Clients across the UK private and public sectors are increasingly sensitive to environmental impact. Firms need strong sustainability credentials to match, according to Ronan Glennon, business development manager at 3 Step IT. And it is no different outside the UK: similar, often stricter, regulation is in force across Europe.
From the client’s perspective, it is hard to see the difference between accountancy firms. If I visit the website of a top 200 UK firm, I see similar terminology, similar people and similar qualifications. They all have strong testimonials, and they all have awards from organisations I have never heard of.
Which is why when your firm wants our business, a little distinction goes a long way. And for three key reasons, we recommend that you distinguish yourself through sustainability.
First, sustainability is moving from a nice-to-have to a must-have. Since 2016, companies in the UK with more than 500 employees have a legal requirement to report on their sustainability. This scrutiny filters down to suppliers – if they are not green, then neither is the buyer. The UK government follows Defra guidance on suppliers to meet its Greening Government Commitments.
Second, sustainability is rarely a burden. Unlike client hospitality, it is not expensive to save energy, or spend less on travel through remote meetings. Switching the lights off after work is much simpler to implement – and often more significant to clients – than AI assistants or blockchain smart contracts.
And the benefits of sustainability on employee engagement should not be underestimated. In 2018 we promoted a ‘walk the talk’ initiative, pitting local offices against each other to show off how they reduce their environmental impact. Not only was the internal response hugely positive, but the campaign also grabbed attention in the outside world, from many companies that are now our customers.
Third, time is of the essence. When clients assess your green credentials, it is not enough to produce a policy on the spot. Assessment frameworks like EcoVadis factor in longevity of sustainability governance and implementation.
It should be clear that even the most ecologically self-destructive accountant has good incentive to take action on sustainability as soon as possible. The question is not whether to do it, but how.
There are the quick wins. Replacing disposable cups with glasses. Swapping rubbish bins with recycling bins. Switching the lights off, making sure air conditioning is not blocked, and turning down heating rather than opening windows. Simple, standalone practices like these can be implemented by most firms within weeks to reduce waste – and your office bills.
But serious results need a more comprehensive approach. Firms need to identify their biggest CO2 sources, and then replace these linear systems of waste with circular processes that maintain and dispose of assets efficiently.
Take the life of a new laptop. Under a linear system, it is manufactured, shipped and used until it becomes too slow to function, then thrown away. Under a circular one, it could be refurbished for continued use. If it slows too much, it can be resold to responsible second-hand buyers. If no buyers exist, then it can be recycled.
How important is this in the grand scheme of things? A mid-range laptop can cost half a ton of CO2 to manufacture – that is equivalent to the production of over 6,000 500ml plastic bottles. Lowering the amount of IT that gets lost, broken or recycled instead of reused could easily become the most impactful piece of your sustainability policy.
Creating a real circular system may sound daunting. Keeping track of devices, finding second-hand buyers for those that reach the end of their first use, and ensuring the buyer does not discard devices after their second use are common pitfalls. But support is here.
3 Step IT has spent the past 20 years building an IT lifecycle management toolkit to make sustainable IT a reality. When your devices reach the end of their ‘first life’, our remarketing networks enable us to data-erase, refurbish and resell 97% of old equipment into audited buyers, in countries with proper e-waste governance. We can even calculate the impact on your firm’s emissions, so that when proving environmental credentials, it ticks all the boxes.
Our expertise in disposal means we can predict the residual value of devices years ahead of time. By combining this with technology financing, we can reduce up-front costs and overall cost of ownership, and ensure secure and sustainable disposal all at the same time.
So whether you are passionate about improving your firm’s environmental impact, or simply looking for the business benefits of IT lifecycle management, reach out and get in touch.
Ronan.Glennon@3stepit.com +44 (0)7867 487087