Late last year, the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative failed to pass by a small margin.
The bill, aimed at making businesses liable for human rights or environmental violations they cause around the world, gained 50.7% of the popular vote – but failed to secure a plurality of cantons voting in favour.
This is something of a blow for us. As I mentioned in my previous blog, the environment and the ethical behavior is of particular importance to Switzerland, and it’s clear the popular will is there to push businesses to be more environmentally and socially conscious. Indeed, a recent Deloitte survey of 2000 international senior business executives found 89% of Swiss leaders considered the world was at a tipping point for climate change; 91% of Swiss leaders saw the current situation as a climate emergency.
So while this latest vote may have been lost, the direction of travel is clear. Swiss business and society is acutely aware of the importance of ESG initiatives, and there are still steps we can all take, right now, to make progress. And take them we must.
Importance of ESG now
Why right now?
First and foremost, climate breakdown is accelerating. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that global temperature increases are expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C in the next few decades alone. We have to act immediately if we want to minimise further irreversible damage to our climate.
Secondly, it’s a question of future business success. I’m very aware that the demographic situation of today’s workforce is influx. Increasingly, it’s millennials – and now Gen Z – who are dominating the workforce, and their views on the climate and social issues are very clear: Deloitte’s annual Global Millennial and Gen Z Report found that the environment was the greatest concern among Gen Z respondents, and third among millennials.
And it’s logical that this is borne out in the decisions they make every day – including where they work.
In an environment where talented employees are hard to find, damaging attractiveness to younger generations in the workforce is a business-critical mistake. And those who fail to pay attention and act accordingly will not only lose access to the top talent on the market, but they may also lose business, too.
It’s time to take concrete steps
So what can we do?
To start, we need to reconsider the overall value of what we do in our business, beyond just the cost or effort it takes. That includes everything, from business travel, to work events, and even office utilities like water and electricity.
It also means considering how green our data centres are, and encouraging others to do the same. And it means incentivising our colleagues, partners, and employees to make greener decisions when they can, especially in this era of homeworking.
Perhaps most crucially, as the Responsible Business Initiative has underlined, we need to extend these actions right throughout the supply chain. There’s no use addressing what goes on in our own businesses if we merely externalise the problem elsewhere.
Concrete action needs powerful tools
Of course, to really understand the root cause of our problems, we need the right tools to be able to measure them – and the tools to take immediate action where we can.
Platforms like ServiceNow can help you achieve just that. Rather than relying on lagging indicators, they allow you to see across all your business processes in real time, from your internal resource use, to the entire depth and breadth of your supply chain. That means you can find out, live, if something is wrong, or even just if your resources are being used inefficiently. And that, in turn, means you can take action to change your behaviour, both in the short and the long term.
Swiss businesses will be able to take concrete steps to avert a climate catastrophe if we are armed with the right tools to do so. But the tools are there, and so is the will. I’m confident that we can make it happen.
To find out more about how ServiceNow can help your business seize the momentum of ESG, visit our ESG page here.