By James Brown
A “tsunami of money” is flowing into sustainable investments, according to Piyush Gupta, group chief executive of Singapore’s largest bank DBS. A claim that’s evidenced by the fact that 21% of the world’s largest public companies have now committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions.
The focus for businesses of all sizes has shifted from ‘how much profit’ to ‘how profits are made’. While the jury is still out about whether social and corporate governance (ESG) improves performance or not, companies that focus on ESG, “tend to be high performing”, Piyush Gupta told CNBC.
Many of these businesses are actively looking at ways they can innovate and use tactics and technologies to track and measure ESG, and make their businesses accountable to its principles.
At wtv., our virtual and hybrid event platforms and services are providing large organisations with scalable ways to meet their ESG goals, specifically Scope 3 and the indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain. As the Carbon Trust points out, for many companies most greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and opportunities to reduce these costs sit outside their own operations.
By empowering companies to provide immersive, interactive meetings and event experiences we’re helping enterprises positively engage with their teams and facilitating key ways for them to reduce emissions from business travel and commuting. Ultimately, technology like this is empowering organisations to make the move to hybrid working and cut back on leasing offices globally.
But while the work from home revolution might be helping companies to cut back on carbon emissions, more now needs to be done to ensure carbon hasn’t merely been ‘shifted’ from company offices to employees’ work-from-home locations such as conservatories, where their setup might generate more or less carbon than the office.
Standard Life Aberdeen is one business trying to tackle the problem of WFH carbon emissions. The global investment company has partnered with Scottish eco app Pawprint, to monitor and reduce emissions produced by employees. Standard Life Aberdeen believes employees have a role to play in helping the enterprise meet sustainability goals. The advent of business behaviour carbon calculators and related tools developed by tech companies such as Watershed Technology Inc. are also showing the impact of WFH and other company decisions on workplace emissions.
This raises questions about who has the agency to impact carbon footprints. However, gone are the days when ‘corporate responsibility’ was a nice-to-have and when organisations subscribed solely to Milton Friedman’s assertion that, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profit”.
Activists such as Greta Thunberg and the groundswell of global public awareness, as well as discord about the environmental cost of doing business and the exploitation of the underprivileged, is placing increasing pressure on organisations to change their behaviour. As wealth is transferred to Millennials, research from Schroders shows that 52% of investors aged 18 to 34 prefer investing in sustainable investment over funds that don’t take sustainable factors into consideration. This compares to just 28% of people aged 65 and over. “Climate change, shifting demographics and technological revolution are reshaping our planet, our values and how we invest,” says the Schroders report. The debate about whether ESG improves business performance or not may turn out to be irrelevant when much bigger forces like this are at play.
Find out how wtv. virtual and hybrid event platforms can support your ESG goals.