ESG - or environmental, social, and corporate governance as it’s known in full - is an acronym that hasn’t been far from many business leaders’ minds in recent months.

The COVID-19 crisis has intensified the role of corporate responsibility for businesses, with philanthropy taking centre stage as companies from all walks of life put helping good causes ahead of revenues and profit. From supporting the NHS with analytics and cloud compute platforms to manufacturing PPE and other critical resources, businesses in and out of tech have played their role to support during the peak of the pandemic.

While we’re still unfortunately at risk to coronavirus, and we’ll never return to ‘business before COVID’ as has been discussed widely (don’t worry, I’m not going to mention the new norm… I know), leaders would be right to start thinking more broadly about how they can continue efforts to keep doing the ‘right’ things by their communities and wider stakeholders.

Nearly six months ago I wrote about why we should applaud Microsoft for its carbon negative commitment. Hot on the heels of that we’ve seen Amazon announce a $2 Billion Climate Pledge Fund to invest in companies building products, services, and technologies to decarbonise the economy and protect the planet – and as part of that news, declaring it will fast-track its path to running on 100% renewable energy by five years, to 2025.

Google Cloud has made similarly ambitious commitments: the company pledged to run on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times, by 2030.  

Recent predictions have claimed the energy consumption of datacentres is set to account for 3.2 percent of the total worldwide carbon emissions in the next five years. When we're comparing datacentre energy consumption to that of aviation, it's clear we all need to take some collective responsibility to tackle this issue. 

That's where individual organisations come in and why now might be the time to consider your organisation’s impact on the environment, including your partners and supply-chain. Prolonged home-working within your business may even further exacerbate the need for such a review, with extra demands likely to be placed on your IT infrastructure through a more distributed workforce.

Obviously a cloud migration is no simple task - requiring strategic direction, planning and delivery capabilities - but the benefits transcend that of increased productivity and cost efficiencies. With the major cloud providers all doubling down on their green credentials, they provide an opportunity for you to help your organisation do the same.

Who we work with. Our impact on our communities. Our impact on the planet. All of this matters more to your customers today than it did a year ago – and will continue to do so as we move forwards. Incorporating ESG into how you work, and then building it into your communications strategy, with regular updates and developments, will be key to maintaining customer loyalty.

Purpose might have taken a backseat this year, with business continuity clearly the priority for most, but expect to see buying decisions still being made based on more than performance and profit.  

We'll be hosting a virtual roundtable discussing such issues, as well as social purpose and measuring purpose and impact, on Thursday 22nd October. If you're interested in attending, please register at the link.