While companies need to grow and push profitability, there are some major socio-economic and environmental challenges ahead. The world’s population will continue to inexorably grow from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 9.9 billion by 2050 according to the Population Reference Bureau, with access to a limited amount of natural resources.
At the same time the digital divide persists with four out of 10 people in the world still unable to access the Internet, according to Internet World Stats’ 2019 figures. Women are suffering from a “double digital divide” in poorer countries, where they are 14% less likely than men to own a mobile phone.
With such glaring issues highlighted in the media on a daily basis, it is no surprise that more and more employees and consumers have increasing expectations that the enterprises they buy from or work for embrace social and environmental topics.
As a result, sustainability is re-modeling the competitive landscape, with enterprises actively looking to re-think solutions, services and technologies. For example, supply chain planning will need to consider sustainability, environmental factors and a social agenda, together with growing green legislation.
Designing a sustainable future
Designing sustainable solutions and adopting a circular economy approach to waste and pollution can both help technology vendors and enterprises meet sustainability targets. We all need to look at reducing energy usage, improving product design and recycling, where possible.
IDC, for example, believes that technology companies can achieve far more in terms of sustainability, given that 50 million tons of electronic and electric waste is produced per annum, yet under 20% is being recycled, claim UN figures.
Co-innovation initiatives are also important to develop joint solutions with partners, start-ups and customers to address key topics such as carbon footprint reduction and IT usage efficiencies.
As part of our Engage 2025 strategy, we are working on greener IT eco-responsible solutions and adopting a circular economy approach. The circular economy is defined as a system of production and consumption based on reusable and sustainable design.
We are also looking to set up “cross-industry clusters” on innovation relating to key emerging topics, such as IT usage and climate change. Technologies including AI and IoT have the potential to help combat global warming. We are also looking to develop one-to-one innovation partnerships with our customers around sustainable objectives.
Internally, we are optimizing our operational carbon footprint to become a green carrier-grade operator. We are also actively contributing to the Orange Group’s objective to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Sustainability begins in the workplace
Digital transformation has an enormous impact on people at work, necessitating new skill sets and roles as well as evolving existing jobs.
People, in particular millennials, want to work for environmentally-sustainable companies that support diversity and gender equality. It is an increasingly important factor in attracting and retaining new talent. In France, for example, 78% of white-collar workers say that the environmental policy of a company is now a factor in their choice of an employer.
At Orange we have successfully managed our own digital transformation by introducing new competencies, sustainability policies and ways of working. We are well placed to advise our customers on the impact of technological change on the workplace culture, and diversity is a key asset that we will continue to develop and promote over the next five years.
Digital inclusion: promoting tech for good
Digital technology has the power to reduce inequalities in the world, embrace inclusion and reduce the digital divide.
We have some way to go in society before we can deliver basic needs to all humans on the planet. Technology has a role to play in this ambition. Through our Engage 2025 strategy, we are looking to make a positive impact on society for social good through e-health and smart cities, for example. We are also actively encouraging our employees to engage with local community projects throughout the world.
Making a positive impact on our world
The world is changing fast. It is paramount that enterprises have a roadmap that will reduce risk, maximize opportunity and accelerate a network for responsible business.
The goal of our Engage 2025 strategy is to nurture and grow a long-term social and economic future for our customers and partners through innovative technologies and services. These are laying the solid foundations for a truly sustainable and transparent supply chain that will support it.
Editor in Chief, International, at Orange Business Services. I'm in charge of our International website and the English language blogs at Orange Business Services. In my spare time I'm literally captain of my own ship, spending my time on the wonderful rivers and canals of England.