In an exclusive Herald essay, Tara McGeehan, President of CGI in the UK, explains how the global technology firm is looking both inward and outward to implement innovative solutions in the race to meet net zero targets
IN THE face of the climate crisis, businesses can no longer ignore how urgent the need for change really is and must act quickly to implement more sustainable practices at the forefront of their operations.
At CGI, we take seriously the role we play in the IT consulting and services space and how we can support our clients in delivering on their commitments, as well as addressing both their, and our own, climate impact.
Here in the UK, alongside other leading international companies that are committed to preventing the worst impacts of climate change, we have committed to initiatives such as the Race to Zero – promising to achieve net-zero by 2026 and have received validation for our Science Based Targets (SBTs) in line with the Paris Agreement.
We are very committed to achieving our targets – and so are our employees, who we refer to as members.
They have been instrumental in driving and guiding our own approach to net zero, and we have implemented a ‘No Planet B’ member initiative within our business where members suggest, share and drive changes, both in their work and home life which have a positive effect on the future of our planet.
President of CGI in the UK Tara McGeehan, who believes the digital sector and businesses must unite in the effort to deliver a sustainable net zero economy
In order to ensure we are tracking and delivering on our commitments we have also created the role of Net Zero Programme Lead, working alongside our Corporate Social Responsibility team.
These days, more and more people want the values of their employer to align with their personal values and I’ve seen a real buzz around our business since we launched our ‘No Planet B’ initiative and, more recently, our commitment to the Race to Zero.
Becoming part of the solution to the climate crisis creates a real sense of purpose.
By implementing a net zero strategy, we’re improving job satisfaction, increasing retention levels and making ourselves a more attractive employer to potential candidates.
Some of our own initiatives include implementing IoT solutions in our buildings to monitor CO2, humidity, energy usage, temperature and occupancy; reducing our waste to landfill; and installing solar panels and additional electric vehicle charging points.
We also run green travel schemes enabling our members to buy electric cars and bicycles more cheaply. We have all got to think very carefully about how we travel and a reduction in car journeys and more hybrid working will help with that, with people using Zoom or
Teams to meet, where possible, rather than travelling.
Another important part of our strategy is to encourage our supply chain and other companies we work with to understand their own carbon emissions and make sure they have plans to reduce them.
We are also seeing, and encouraging, our clients to look at their supply chains, and we work closely with clients and suppliers to actively encourage the integration of climate and natural capital risks into corporate decision-making and promote supply chain decarbonisation.
We have created support frameworks that scale innovations and accelerate the transition towards a net zero economy – while ensuring that sustainability takes priority in our Corporate Social
Responsibility commitments. Now, we are ramping up our efforts to empower other businesses, and especially our peers in the technology sector, to do the same.
We want to try and encourage others to think more ethically about technology and what they can do to help fight climate change because technology is one of the biggest carbon users on the planet.
That’s why it is important that we all head towards net zero quickly and are at the forefront of inventing bits of technology that have a positive impact.
We are encouraging and helping our supply chain to think more ethically about how to make their equipment and inventing bits of software that mean people can live their lives a bit better.
We are involved in COP26 in Glasgow and will be kitting out our Glasgow office to demonstrate ‘green’ technology to our clients – some of which we have found through a Dragon’s Den type competition where smaller companies have demonstrated their technology to us.
It’s all aimed at solving problems and helping individuals, communities and companies reduce their carbon footprint. People are not going to let go of their technology, so we need to find better ways to use it.
We are genuinely trying to share good ideas and make it easy for people to understand how they can make a difference.
I passionately believe that digital technology has an important role to play in enabling us all to live and work more sustainably.
From providing us with the information we need to take the right decisions, to simplifying access to the benefits of a move to a greener economy and delivering a just climate transition, I’m certain that the digital sector will play its part. In the words of the COP26 President, Alok Sharma, ‘We can, and we must, rise to the occasion’.
Business has a vital role to play in what must be a collective effort to deliver a sustainable, resilient, net zero economy.
I am therefore really pleased to be part of the COP26 Business Leaders Group, which is championing ambitious climate action among B7+4 businesses in the run up to the COP26 conference.
From the development of a UK climate advisory practice, to establishing a global network of sustainability leads, our internal commitments are advancing how we collaborate with our clients to deliver sustainable, digital solutions to some of their biggest challenges and stimulate resilient growth.
Committing to net zero has given us at CGI the opportunity to drive innovation, increase competitiveness and, to quote Mark Carney, ‘align value with our values’.
A win win situation for us all.