Lots of 'Sustainability' Talk, Little Walk

Lots of organizations are talking about sustainability, but not so many are walking the talk, indicates a new report from Google Cloud.

"Many executives are prioritizing sustainability at their companies," said a report titled "CEOs are Ready to Fund a Sustainable Transformation" that's based on data collected from Dec. 1, 2021, to Jan. 8, 2022, by The Harris Poll.

There may be readiness, but as far as effective, measurable follow-through, not so much: "They say they are willing to do what it takes to have more sustainable practices. Despite their ambition, however, real measures of impact are lacking."

Sustainability is a growing "soft" computing/IT consideration that organizations are increasingly taking into account as the world warms and natural resources dry up, sometimes literally. Definitions of the term abound, but this one focusing on IT comes from Circular Computing:

Sustainable IT, also known as Green IT, covers the manufacturing, use, management and disposal of information technology in a way that minimizes its impact on the environment.

"Sustainability and environmental impact have become top of mind for executives around the world," Google said. "Climate-induced wildfires, an increasing number of massive storms, and deadly heat waves have awoken the corporate world to our planet's stark realities. In the survey, 89 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, 'I realized I care more about sustainability than before' in the last 12 months."

Again, there is a contrast in what they're actually doing about it.

For example, more than half of executives said their company may overstate its sustainability efforts, called greenwashing, and 66 percent questioned how genuine some of their organization's sustainability initiatives are.

In fact, 29 percent of respondents (35 percent in the U.S.) reportedly agreed with this statement: "My company treats sustainability like a PR stunt."

PR Stunt
[Click on image for larger view.] PR Stunt (source: Google Cloud).

As the graphic above shows, the percentage of respondents who agreed with that statement varies greatly among different industry sectors.

Programs to Advance Sustainability Initiatives
[Click on image for larger view.] Programs to Advance Sustainability Initiatives (source: Google Cloud).

Things aren't all bad, though, as many initiatives and programs are in place and many more are planned, more than any other year (see graphic above). However, factors such as measuring their impact, where to begin, authentic communication, accountability and so on present challenges.

"The good news is that it's still early on many companies' sustainability journey -- the majority (more than half) of executives say they are in the planning and early implementation phases of sustainability programming," the report said. "The challenging news is the planet needs urgent action from everyone to prevent the worst impacts of climate change."

All respondents worked at the C-Suite or VP level.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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