Investor scrutiny has tightened over the last year, and an organization’s response to the pandemic has been seen as a key indicator of overall company health. Moody’s cites that companies that failed to prioritize public health and social welfare took a hit to their reputation as more buyers sought products and services from those that responded with empathy. As such, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives – a set of standards that measure the sustainability of a company’s operations – have been brought into sharper focus as the societal role of companies plays more heavily into purchasing decisions.
Salesforce’s most recent State of the Connected Customer survey uncovered that in 2020, 56% of business and individual consumers reevaluated the societal role of companies from which they purchase or do business. Interestingly enough, the survey showed that deploying the right technology played a key role in supporting employee wellbeing and improving the ease of doing business despite social and economic challenges. Companies needed to make sure devices and software were accessible and reliable to ensure a seamless transition to remote working. For example, we saw the PC market flourish, and demand is expected to remain high in the coming years as nearly all members of the household need their own device nowadays (versus a shared “family computer”) for virtual work and school. Digital transformations were fast-tracked – moving swiftly away from legacy systems and outdated infrastructure to ensure sustainable solutions for the indefinite future of remote or hybrid working. Video conferencing software and cloud-based programs, for instance, went from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have.”
But as we continue navigating through 2021, companies should consider how their digitalization efforts go beyond solutions to address pandemic-related changes, and rather are contributing to long-term trust and sustainability as stakeholders are paying more attention to ESG initiatives. Adopting an ESG lens when acquiring technology can help an organization proactively manage reputational and legal risks.