Environmental, Social & Governance3 min read

Core Business Priorities and ESG Are No Longer Inseparable

Photo for Tamar BrooksTamar Brooks

As my colleague Nicola Acutt recently pointed out, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives are by no means a passing fad.

In recent months, I’ve had a significant number of conversations with our customers in the United Kingdom and Ireland, who have expressed an interest in VMware’s ESG commitments. Not only are they turning to us for technology solutions that can improve their green credentials and make their businesses more environmentally sustainable, but they are also keen to hear what guidance we can share to help them meet their ESG targets as they become more and more aligned to their business priorities.

For example, one customer shared that they have noticed that potential recruits take their corporate social responsibility track record into consideration prior to joining, particularly in cases where candidates also have competing offers with similar salaries. In this scenario, failing to keep up with their ESG targets could potentially impact the organisation’s ability to compete for talent in today’s job market.

Another UK customer noted that they’ve adopted the use of a ‘balanced scorecard’ as a means of weighing up ESG credentials against other factors that form part of a business decision-making process. This means that a more expensive option would not necessarily be ruled out if it were also deemed to be more valuable in helping an organisation meet the company’s ESG targets.

At VMware, our ESG commitments are deeply embedded into the core of our business. And as we outlined in our 2030 Agenda, achieving our goals is not something that we can accomplish without the help of our customers, partners, employees and the broader technology community.

While we still have ways to go in terms of helping create a sustainable, equitable and secure digital future for all, we’re also incredibly proud of our efforts so far. Since 2003, our software solutions have helped avoid over 1.2B metric tons of CO2e emissions.

Interestingly, sustainability has also become as much of an ever-present part of my personal life as it has in my career. This year, my family and I made a New Year’s resolution to reduce the number of single-use plastics in our household. So far, we’ve committed to buying vegetables and milk directly from our local suppliers in order to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging. And while using refillable glass bottles and storage containers is arguably less convenient than buying readily packaged products, we need to encourage changes like this in order to guarantee a more sustainable future for our planet.

For our customers, the way they approach ESG is remarkably similar. While adopting and implementing ESG strategies requires a substantial amount of effort and accountability, I’m delighted to see our customers unanimously agree on the importance of doing so. In fact, many organisations have shared that they are increasingly open to collaborative cross-industry and cross-sector efforts in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

But at the same time, each individual organisation also faces vastly different challenges. For one, we still lack a standardisation when it comes to measuring the impact and success of ESG investments. While metrics such as the gender pay gap are undoubtedly useful in terms of helping us monitor our progress in terms of achieving equity, we don’t yet have a regulated way of ranking sustainability efforts. This can make it somewhat difficult to differentiate between those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk.

What’s clear is that organisations can no longer see their core business priorities and their ESG targets as two separate objectives. At the same time, some companies will understandably still be undergoing an adjustment period and will require guidance on how they can best deliver on their commitments.

For more information, check out Nicola's article and our main page on ESG.