The terms environmental social governance, enterprise risk management and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are phrases that have been prominent in business over the past few years. But what do these terms mean for the average company, and how do they apply to enterprise software?
These are some of the questions our CEO and CTO Mark Barrenechea set out to address in his introductory remarks to the audience at OpenText’s corporate responsibility session during Enterprise World 2019 in Toronto. Building on the success of our first corporate social responsibility event at Enterprise World Europe, Mark shared his insights into what the future of sustainable business looks like.
“There are three terms that we use today – environmental social governance, enterprise risk management, and corporate social responsibility,” said Mark. “I think they’re all going to combine down into the single topic of The Responsible Business”.
Responsible business must be part of your DNA
Whether you’re an enterprise software company, an agricultural business or a paper and pulp organization, we all have a part to play. And, for sustainability initiatives to be successful they must be integral to the people, the purpose and the promise of what you do as an organization – in other words, they need to be part of the core DNA.
Following Mark, Andrew Winston, global sustainability expert and author of The Big Pivot, shared his thoughts on how multinational companies can understand and navigate the world’s biggest environmental and social challenges.
- The climate problem: Extreme weather events are happening all over the world. What’s changed in this discussion of climate is who is talking about the data – now, not just scientists but financial institutions and insurance companies are telling us the numbers show a systemic risk to our society.
- Ecosystem decline: There is a base pressure on resources that keeps building. As resources continue to decline, we need better data to help us understand these trends and shortages—and we need to start investing in solutions like circular economies.
- The clean economy explosion: The clean economy is exploding around the world. The number of companies using clean energy is increasing exponentially and the reason is very simple: economics. Renewable energy is not only a good story – it’s also cheaper.
- Generational shifts (Millennials and Gen Z): Millennials and Generation Zers have a different view of business and what success means than previous generations. Research shows that most Millennials would not work for a company that didn’t fit their values – which includes sustainability.
- Rising expectations on businesses: A good product used to be one that tasted good and was safe. Now, a good product is one that is responsibly sourced, manufactured and distributed. Companies and consumers will not do business with you if you don’t have a moral center and sustainable business practices.
Responding to global mega-trends
Businesses can respond to these mega-trends (and increase their own profits) by seeing business through a sustainability lens.
“The potential here is in our ability to make all of these systems much smarter – smart transportation systems, smart intermodal logistic systems, cleaner and better data about how we move things around the world, a smart grid with renewables, smart agriculture and much smarter buildings,” said Andrew.
Finding new ways to manage these mega-trends is critical to business and to do so, we need better access to data and information. This creates an opportunity for IT departments and for information companies.
Andrew left us with a final thought on the impact of responsible business.
Business cannot thrive unless people and planet are thriving. How will you be the hero in this story? – Andrew Winston
Concluding the informative and insightful session, we heard from a panel of industry leaders.
The panel discussed how technology is being used to solve complex environmental and social issues, and the importance of embedding CSR impact into the employee and customer journey. For Sarah, this boils down to one key word: purpose.
“Purpose is becoming a key priority,” said Sarah. “What we’re seeing is a lot of companies taking a look at who they are and what they stand for beyond making a profit.”
This means moving beyond the branding and publicity benefits of CSR to ensure the values are embedded in your organization. According to Alain, one key way to integrate sustainability into your business model is through responsible sourcing.
“People want to be able to go into a store and feel good about it. Sourcing with integrity is one way to have people come into our stores and feel that those standards are being met.”
But organizations aren’t on their own—governments can also play a key role in helping companies integrate sustainability into their culture.
“We’re coming at this—business and government—all at the same time,” said Sheri. “We’re going to reach the apex together where sustainability is not only expected and desired by governments but businesses are already on their way.”
The final message of the day? As Sarah Chapman shared, “Doing more good is not the same as doing less bad.”