More than a third of Irish firms still do not have a sustainability strategy in place.
43pc of Irish companies have firm plans to be carbon neutral. Of those with firm plans, 65pc are confident they will achieve net zero by that date.
However, the research – conducted by Mediateam on behalf of Irish IT business DataSolutions and involving 105 IT leaders – found that more than two thirds of firms (38pc) don’t have a sustainability or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy.
“Having an ESG strategy is no longer aspirational but absolutely crucial, not only from a brand perspective but a growth and costs perspective”
Furthermore, 36pc don’t believe that their organisation is doing a good enough job when it comes to environmental and social sustainability.
Hurdles on road to carbon neutrality
The top hurdles to becoming carbon neutral were cited as a lack of green alternatives (47pc), more of a focus on near-term issues (42pc) and it is too expensive (40pc).
Respondents also revealed the most likely consequences on their company as a result of sustainability or climate change issues. Reputational damage ranked highest (54pc), followed by cost of climate change mitigation (48pc) and customer-driven pressure (38pc). Some 34pc said exclusion from customer or tender opportunities was a likely consequence.
The research also found that 62pc of IT leaders believe the tech industry is not sustainable enough and needs to change quickly, while 71pc think technology will play a positive role in the war against global warming.
Almost a third (31pc) of those surveyed see sustainability as being crucial to economic recovery post-Covid. People working in the IT sales channel were also surveyed and went even further with 34pc viewing sustainability as a growth driver for the organisation in the next 12 months (to some or a great extent).
“There’s no denying it – climate change is the most pressing and urgent issue of our time,” said Michael O’Hara, group managing director of DataSolutions. “And the time for people and businesses to act is right now. Worryingly, there is still a disjoint between the desire to be carbon-neutral or more sustainable and actually putting into place the solutions and strategies to achieve this goal.
“Having an ESG strategy is no longer aspirational but absolutely crucial, not only from a brand perspective but a growth and costs perspective. Every organisation needs to be reducing their CO2 footprint by 50pc by 2030 and achieving carbon zero by 2050 at the very latest. Going green makes sense for both the world and business. However, companies will need to wade through the mountain of information and negative commentary around climate change, educating themselves and producing a plan that will have a real impact.”
In March 2021, DataSolutions announced its commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2022. After measuring its carbon output in 2018 and 2019, DataSolutions set a sustainability target for next year and has already made changes to ensure the goal is within reach as part of its ‘Go Green’ initiative.
The actions DataSolutions has taken so far includes moving its ERP system and other corporate applications to the cloud, adding electrical cars and charging points to the business while cutting down business travel and encouraging working from home to reduce employee travel. DataSolutions installed solar panels on the office roof, which now provides 12pc of its energy needs, and also replaced its gas burning (fossil fuel) office heating system with a more efficient heat pump system.
Alongside its carbon commitment, DataSolutions also announced its Techies Go Green initiative – a movement of IT and tech-oriented companies committed to decarbonising their businesses. The movement has amassed over 100 signatories to date including Softcat, Misco, ET Works and Arkphire.
Main image: Michael O’Hara, group managing director of DataSolutions