scorecardCIOs may be the answer to the data problem in ESG implementation
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CIOs may be the answer to the data problem in ESG implementation

CIOs may be the answer to the data problem in ESG implementation
Tech4 min read
Representative image    Pixabay
  • The chief sustainability officer or chief diversity officer is no longer entirely responsible for ESG. Everyone must prioritise ESG goals and play a part if we are to have a substantial beneficial influence on the planet.
  • As of 2020, 88% of publicly traded companies and 67% of privately-owned companies had ESG initiatives in place.
  • ESG strategies can affect operating profits by as much as 60%.

Many firms entrust the creation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reports to a corporate sustainability officer or someone with a similar designation. However, there has recently been a growing need for chief information officers (CIOs) to have a greater role in ESG activities, particularly as ESG standards and guidelines become more stringent.


In fact, Gartner advises CIOs to get ahead of the game by cultivating ties with their colleagues in the field of sustainability. ESG strategies can affect operating profits by as much as 60%. Today, organisations must commit to ESG activities as a matter of course. Following through on commitments can have a significant impact on a company's future – be it its carbon-neutral commitments; reevaluating supplier sustainability criteria; or implementing diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, among other things.


More than three quarters of customers and companies are much more likely to buy from and/or work for a company that stands up for ESG issues, according to a PwC Consumer Intelligence Series study from 2021, and 76 percent of consumers would stop doing business with a company that treats its employees, societies and the environment badly.


The CIO's ability to provide clear, data-driven insights and track progress toward ESG goals is important to the success of any ESG plan. CIOs are increasingly in a position to set the tone for their enterprises by establishing ESG strategy across the board and incorporating sustainability into their own digitalization activities. However, given the wide range of these projects, many leaders are unsure where to begin.

Identify enterprise ESG goals


It's critical to establish and understand the major ESG goals at the enterprise level before assessing how the digital transformation activities may generate ESG outcomes. Some businesses have well-defined objectives that are conveyed to stakeholders, whereas others have hazily stated objectives. It’s important to consider which way the technological function can turn to help meet the ESG goals.

Weaving ESG into the fabric of digital strategy


Once the businesses figure out their goals and have decoded where technology might help them, it’s time to integrate enterprise ESG goals with the organisation's digital plan. As a result, the firm may achieve the required agility from its transformation program while also advancing its ESG efforts. Breaking down silos and making important data more available coupled with the digitising of processes, experiences and products will not only save time and money, but also boost the speed of insight. As part of the digitization process, technology companies can enable the measurement and tracking of ESG parameters, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water usage.

Building a business case


After CIOs identify how digital strategy efforts best serve the firm's ESG goals, it's crucial to share the suggestions and insights with the rest of the organisation to gain a buy-in – it is critical to emphasise that many of these concepts cannot be realised just through the use of digital technologies and information support. Discussing ESG potential with other enabling departments ahead of time will help to figure out which projects can be realistically undertaken. CIOs must consider the trade-offs between value to the company and the amount of effort taken to prioritise initiatives once the digital transformation strategy is reviewed. This will ensure that the ESG goals are top of mind and in alignment with relevant partners and stakeholders.

CIO's Role in ESG equation


The fundamental obstacle to implementing ESG is lack of data. Organisations require access to data from outside the organisation to measure progress and accelerate transformation in areas like emissions, governance, diversity, equity, and inclusion. CIOs play a vital role in facilitating ESG-related projects across their organisations by influencing the conversation around these systems and metrics.


Emissions must be reduced in order to have a measurable influence on the environment. As of 2020, 88% of publicly traded companies and 67% of privately-owned companies had ESG initiatives in place. Clearly, many businesses are eager to make the pledge and follow through but often lack the resources to gather data from third parties that would help assess their environmental footprint and track their progress over the years.


The chief sustainability officer (CSO) or chief diversity officer is no longer entirely responsible for ESG. Everyone must prioritise ESG goals and play a part if we are to have a substantial beneficial influence on the planet. This includes executives from all levels of the company, external partners, supply chain participants and employees. It is time for businesses to pull in all stakeholders to collaborate and focus on the larger goal of giving back to society and preserving the planet.



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