sustainabilities at work

Insights from Effect 2022: How technology drives more sustainable organisations

SAP was proud to host some of the most influential minds in business at Effect 2022. Over two days we unpacked our evolving post-pandemic environmental priorities. Here, we share insights from our ‘Sustainability Pillar’, where we discussed new employee expectations, data-driven supply chains and disruption for good.

While it was already a priority, sustainability has been pushed up the list for business leaders, driven by natural disasters, global energy, supply chain uncertainty, and the emergence of the younger, more sustainability-savvy generation.

Sustainability has evolved from a tick-the-box compliance requirement to a strategic opportunity to attract a new generation of staff and customers that are demanding action. What’s more, without being cynical, innovative businesses have identified climate change as a multi trillion-dollar opportunity.

As the market and environmental objectives align, doing good for the world’s people, animals, oceans and forests is not just good for the planet, but it can also benefit the bottom line. Sustainability is a global economic challenge requiring swift and market ready solutions.

Insights from our Sustainability Pillar:

A highlight of Effect 2022 were our breakout sessions where we asked business and technology leaders how they planned to innovate in relation to people, productivity and the planet.

Here are some of the takeaways from our presentations and discussions:

  • While many of the older generations would not have investigated green credentials when assessing a potential employer, today’s graduates are more aware, knowledgeable and passionate about this topic than their predecessors.
  • People are demanding the businesses they work for or buy from are operating responsibly and sustainably in terms of energy, waste, emissions and efficiency across their supply chain. They want to work for a brand that is respected, sustainable and is contributing to society.
  • True sustainability requires engagement across all levels, from the CEO driving strategy and the product team designing packaging through to the procurement manager sourcing supplies and the efficiency of front-line workers. The commitment starts in the boardroom.
  • Institutional investors, superannuation fund managers and shareholders are increasingly applying non-financial environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as part of their analysis and demanding detailed reporting to manage reputational risks, identify growth opportunities and maximise returns.
  • As a result, we’re seeing the rise of the Chief Sustainability Office (CSO) to take accountability for strategy, performance and reporting.
  • From raw materials and manufacturing processes to packaging and product usage, end-to-end supply chain transparency is becoming increasingly important. This can incorporate a range of attributes including responsible sourcing, fair work practices, renewable energy, carbon emission, geopolitical environment, transport miles, adverse media, human rights and financial stability.
  • SAP is working with third party data aggregators to enhance businesses’ own internal data to develop sustainability dashboards that pull together a range of these ESG factors to score and rate suppliers across the supply chain and make better decisions accordingly. This also becomes valuable for communicating internally and with the market to demonstrate credibility and action.
  • Under increasing pressure from customers, staff, regulators, competitors, investors and the media, there is a greater desire and motivation in the corporate world to move fast on this issue – often faster than governments.
  • In our discussions with CEOs we know that sustainability is rising fast in terms of strategic objectives, however a large proportion have not taken serious action. We expect to see meaningful action in the coming years.

There is no doubt that digital and climate disruption are major challenges for every industry. However, for businesses willing to embrace digital transformation, they also represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do things better. Better for the planet, better for customers, better for staff, and better for your business.

Visit the Effect 2022 website to learn more about the event and watch a replay of the keynote by Nic Gill, High Performance Manager of the New Zealand All Blacks.