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Why CIOs SIT to Lead the Sustainability Agenda

Before organizations can ethically declare that they are creating a positive effect on the surroundings and within their community, they have to be capable of reliably track and report on the carbon footprint. Consumers, investors, boards, and regulators today want transparency and reporting — not bold proclamations.

Despite having basic key performance indicators, sustainability records certainly are a challenge that’s made more arduous because of web of interdependencies and ambiguity. Information originates from internal and external sources, guidance follows several methodologies, and terms and metrics haven’t been defined. The C-suite executive who’s best positioned to resolve these data story problems and lead sustainability progress within their organization may be the chief information officer.

CIOs can shape the discourse around an organizations environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments; support them with data; and achieve transparency and data security. By firmly taking on the next six strategies, CIOs may take the lead on transformation and elevate their role within the C-suite:

1. Obtain trusted data and information

Organizations need accurate data to report against market needs and find out their very own operational efficiencies. But first, they need to know what to measure, how exactly to access data and which benchmarks to set up place. Companies frequently have a problem with these foundational areas. CIOs can solve because of this by combining the info and folks, internally and externally; facilitating the conversation; and establishing trust through technology.

Collecting data from beyond your organization takes a different strategy. Gaining the cooperation of suppliers and all downstream stakeholders to perform a checklist of metrics wont be a straightforward lift, if you don’t can offer incentives, automate this to the extent possible, and protect their data.

2. Unleash the energy of technology

ESG efforts require that parties share trusted information. This is often by means of blockchain-based reporting systems or other styles of technology to automate information exchange without putting the info at an increased risk.

To meet up todays needs and tomorrows requirements, focus on a solid, flexible architecture. Create a framework that satisfies the requirements of consumers, executive leadership, governing bodies and investors, and may track key metrics, such as for example carbon emissions, supplier diversity and labor practices, sourcing and plans for waste disposal. The machine will require a central data repository with controls and processes that endure oversight.

While that is another heavy lift, it could be created incrementally. Once you solve your first data story problem — data collection — you may use that data to inform a compelling story that propels the sustainability journey.

3. Be considered a transformational leader

Every organization is seeking efficiency. We realize that climate change disclosure requirements are coming. We also understand that organizations tend to be more profitable as time passes if they create sustainable experiences. Getting before these events and gathering data to steer the conversation implies that the CIO may take the lead in assisting the business navigate the near future.

A sustainability research study will start within the IT department. Computing power requires massive energy use. Investigate methods to reduce energy consumption or use renewable energy sources at data centers. Learn how much money it could save and obtain buy-in from the CFO. Consider your supplier network. What percentage are women-owned businesses or minority-owned businesses, and so how exactly does that align together with your ambition? Develop initial strategies, measure results, and utilize them to propel the sustainability journey.

4. Drive diversity in the business

The CIOs leadership role in sustainability starts from within the IT department, through creating a talent strategy that supports the organizations future data science needs.

Studies also show that diverse teams always outperform homogenous teams, yet women are underrepresented in STEM fields. Some cite a shortage of qualified talent. The true question is, How do we breakdown barriers that result in segregation and disparity, especially within the computing and technology workforce? CIOs should take part in programs for women, minorities and children in STEM and develop plans for anti-bias practices in hiring and promotions.

5. Support stakeholder engagement

Cultivate relationships together with your internal stakeholders, the CFO, marketing leaders, the heads of supply chain and recruiting. ESG cuts over the enterprise. Each stakeholder includes a different lens, and reporting requirements affect all of them. Create connections across sections and define metrics so you aren’t aggregating exactly the same data twice or measuring inconsistently. The main element to ESG data strategy development would be to identify the proper stakeholders, at the proper time, to create the strategy and gain alignment.

6. Empower an ESG leader within IT

Organizations will require a different group of skills to tackle the business enterprise challenges that lie ahead. Embrace ESG as a subspecialty of IT and empower an ESG leader to operate a vehicle that differ from an executive level. This demonstrates a companys commitment from the very best down, and the ESG leader will undoubtedly be aligned to discover new ESG strategies that may drive long-term value.

CIOs who take these steps can not only prepare yourself with something that delivers a holistic view of the business enterprise and audit-ready reports, however they may also be helping their organizations are more sustainable and resilient, and be better corporate citizens.

The views reflected in this post are those of the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.

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