5 initial roadblocks to Sustainability

Let’s take an hypothetical case of an IT company. Let’s say it is one of the leading companies in the IT services in India with about 6000 employees worldwide with different domains and the entire work is client-driven.

While it is a forward thinking company, and has taken definite initiatives in the social responsibility area annually, it stalls, when the dialogue shifts to the environment. If I were the ‘invisible’ sustainability officer in that company, I know that I would run into a number of roadblocks while implementing the triple bottom line sustainability system.

The top 5 would be:

  • We don’t have any smoke stacks on the top of our campus. In other words, we are not a manufacturing company and therefore we don’t have any emissions or any major footprint. Therefore, there’s nothing to account for.
  • The middle line managers of each domain will not be even aware of the enormous energy consumption of their own departments, let alone of the entire company.
  • So the real drivers of the TBL accounting – vast middle management will not be on board with the TBL goals that I’ll set, because these goals don’t mesh with their regular goals and the extra environmental goals would sound like too much work.
  • There is no dedicated position to handle the sustainability goals in the TBL area. Probably, one of the HR guys is looking at the ‘greening’ of the company, because it is the ‘in thing’.
  • Getting the management to understand where the major environmental impacts lie will be a challenge as it is a service company. Moving away from servers and getting into cloud computing would be an option. though it would require a upfront cost.

The goal is not to get the Finance to issue a GRI report. That is way down the road. The first goal would be make a case to create a separate environmental cost category by showing them the ‘low hanging fruit’ of just focusing on operational changes and then as their mind sets change, big goals like product innovation will take shape.

Next…The Roadmap to Sustainabiity

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