For all organisations, no matter what sector they operate in, sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) is no longer a ‘nice to have’, and nor is it enough to just address ESG issues from a siloed team within.
Stephen Bovis, vice president and managing director, South Pacific, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) says if the world is going to make the necessary carbon reductions to meet net zero goals, it will need employees from across company divisions and sectors working towards sustainability outcomes.
Bovis also adds that the war for ESG talent is tough and organisations need to look for every opportunity to attract and upskill strong talent.
“Organisations need to upskill talent across their entire businesses to integrate ESG into the overall strategies. HPE’s approach isn’t to build out a huge centralised ESG team but rather to build capabilities – whether that’s in product development or finance,” he says.
To equip leaders from across all HPE’s teams and empower them to confidently create action plans within their organisations that mitigate climate impacts, HPE will be introducing a mandatory climate training programme for all leaders at VP level and above. The programme will inform and inspire HPE executives to learn about the relevance of climate change to HPE’s business.
Also, beginning in 2022, executive committee bonus compensation will be tied to the company’s performance against key climate metrics. “This builds on existing ESG-related compensation metrics related to team member engagement and workforce diversity,” says Bovis.
HPE has the Young Employee Network (YEN) programme - an international group of rising talents who are given the opportunity to connect with colleagues and business leaders, strengthen team building and expand their knowledge to develop a new generation of leaders. YEN employees can also participate in mentoring and workshops to enrich their experience of work and upskill on climate change at a corporate level.
Upskilling, reskilling senior leadership to help mitigate climate change
Achieving net-zero targets requires transformation and accountability across every part of the business.
“Climate change is an existential threat to humanity and our planet. Goals don’t drive change, accountability and action do, and this starts at the top,” says Bovis.
In addition to HPE’s executive climate training, the entire board completed ESG training in 2021 to enhance their competence. “It’s important that ESG is managed at the board given that it’s inextricably linked to HPE’s business strategy,” says Bovis.
“Board-level attention around corporate sustainability is hitting all-time highs with ESG factors now ranked as ‘very important’ to the enterprise value of a company – in addition to being a force for good in the world,” Bovis adds.
And as per IDC’s latest predictions, by 2023, 75% of enterprises will expect sustainability goals to be addressed in RFI responses, demonstrating responsible supply chain principles and secure IT asset disposition capabilities, Bovis says aligning tech strategies with sustainability initiatives, organisations across industries are growing stronger, more resilient, and more able to accelerate a data-first digital strategy.
“Studies show that companies linking digital and sustainable transformation are 2.5 times more likely to be among tomorrow’s strongest-performing businesses,” he adds.
Therefore, businesses worldwide are pledging to aggressively cut carbon emissions, reduce energy usage and strive to achieve “net zero” sustainability goals. On its own, HPE is accelerating its existing 2050 net-zero commitment by 10 years to 2040. HPE is among the first tech companies with a net zero target approved by the global Science-based Target Initiative (SBTi).
Sustainability is inextricably linked to HPE’s business strategy, says Bovis.
“Not only are our customers asking us to help them reduce the climate/environmental impacts of their IT estates, but also – a major portion of carbon emission occurs during the use phase of our product lifecycle. Helping our customers optimise their IT’s efficiency by transforming and modernising sustainability is our biggest opportunity to have a positive impact on the planet,” he adds.
Winning the war of ESG talent
Bovis says now is the time for organisations to ensure sustainability is a key part of their business strategies and incorporate ESG as a workforce strategy - given changing mindsets, especially among the younger workforce.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, climate change stood out as Australian Millennials’ (33%) and Gen Z’s (33 %) primary concern in the workforce, as per Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey.
“HPE has a decentralised approach to ESG that enables us to have a lean team of ESG experts that act as internal consultants across the business to help enable the brightest minds to solve the issues they encounter every day (e.g., helping product engineers design with ethics considerations, helping finance teams evaluate climate risk, etc),” he adds.