Sustainability Principles for Every Business

These technology executives discussed the latest sustainability principles that are guiding leaders and organisations today.

The term “sustainability principles” is one that many in the business world are familiar with today, given the importance placed upon driving a greener effort across the industry. When considering sustainability, organisations factor terms such as environmental, socially responsible, and governance into their agendas and company values. In this debate, the speakers discuss the sustainability principles they are interested in and how they prioritised this within their organisations. 


With Lea Sellers moderating, the speakers of this roundtable debate include:


Current sustainability principles 

Moderator Lea Sellers started the debate by asking the speakers what sustainability principles they are interested in for their business.

“In terms of sustainability, we’re looking at broader principles rather than any one particular area at the moment”, said Dax Grant, CEO of Global Transform and former CIO of HSBC.

She argued that a lot of the focus is around leadership behaviours in the organisation. This means combining both effective behaviour symptoms and building a broader societal view of sustainability. She noted that the “congruence of leadership” is what they are focusing on in terms of key principles.

In agreement with Dax, Interim CTO at Nimbla Giles Lindsay doesn’t believe there is an “either, or” case when it comes to promoting sustainability within the organisation. For Giles, sustainability takes him back to the “three pillars”: environmental, social and governance. He pointed out that in addition to the environmental factors, you have to think about the people and teams, and the governance on how to deal with those sustainability problems appropriately. 

While he agreed with Dax and Giles’ definitions of sustainability principles, CDIO of UK Space Agency, Matthew Mallet, had a different take. For his organisation, Matt believes it is key to harness satellite information to educate and provide data. He stated that its main aim is to: “Provide evidence of damage that we’ve already done, the sustained damage we continue to do and how we should be looking to address it”.


Sustainability principles in practice

Dax argued there is a lot more work to do when it comes to putting those sustainability principles in practice. “My honest view is now we’ve got a connected world through digitisation”, she said. This, she explained, provides a greater opportunity to bring people together under the sustainability agenda. 

As a result, technology leaders can globally and locally start to build sustainable teams. In addition to this, the government and key stakeholders across the world can be brought together and work towards a common goal using a “defined action plan”. 

When asked who is responsible for sustainability within the organisation, Dax responded by stating that everyone has a role in this. “I do believe if you start with the next generation they will grow but we as a community and as leaders in society have that responsibility”, she said. 

She admitted that she is most educated by her children who put forward the “best sustainability principles in the world”. 

Explaining how to put those ESG principles into action, Giles argued that we’re only “scratching the surface”. Nimbla is implementing carbon footprint tracking and trying to understand where that spend is coming from. Giles talked about an earlier conversation he had about hybrid and cloud, stating that in this space they are looking to “work with partners who have sustainability as one of their core tenants”. 

He added that they are only on the start of this journey to sustainability. Echoing Dax’s earlier point, Giles argued that responsibility is across the entire organisation, not just the CEO or CFO's.


Sustainability - who’s responsible?

Lea asked the speakers who else is responsible for sustainability within the organisation. 

“From our perspective it’s one of our strategic principles”, said Matt. He added that everyone in the organisation signed up to it. Despite this being a massive area to cover, he stated that his company is trying to drive it through their third party supply chain. By influencing them, Matt hopes to help them become more sustainable in their approaches. 


This roundtable was recorded at The Studio and made in partnership with Cisco.

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