The technology industry is at the forefront of developing innovative and smart solutions. However, this often doesn’t apply to a company’s own sustainability, as shown by our study Sustainability 1.0 – Why the technology industry is not a pioneer in sustainability transformation” study, which involved a survey of more than 100 technology companies of different sizes and focus areas. The research proves that while companies have recognised the relevance and opportunities of sustainability, there is a lack of consistent implementation.

Sustainability is often not seen as a holistic challenge

In line with this, the sustainability activities of technology companies tend to be one-dimensional - with a focus on environmental aspects, while the areas of social and corporate governance are neglected. However, a holistic approach to sustainability would need to consider all three ESG dimensions along the entire value chain – including working conditions, suppliers and distributors, for example. According to the study, many companies would benefit from appointing formally responsible sustainability officers in order to better steer and manage the issue.

In response to the question of circular economy principles, around half of respondents state that they are not yet active or hardly active in this area. There is a need for action, in particular with regard to digital solutions for the product life cycle, eco-design and the retrofittability of products.

Shortcomings in data management and reporting requirements

In addition, the companies surveyed do not have a clear overview of their sustainability data. Obtaining robust information about waste volumes, energy efficiency and emissions, or equality and supplier control is a major challenge in the industry. This is a surprising finding because intelligent handling of data is usually a core competence of tech companies.

With regard to the reporting requirements of the new EU Taxonomy Regulation, the majority of affected technology companies are in the planning or implementation process. However, around one-third have not yet taken any steps, and one in ten companies has not yet dealt with the regulation at all. Last but not least, the majority have not or only partially integrated sustainability aspects into their governance systems. There is a considerable need for catch-up here.

See sustainability as an opportunity to secure business success

The tech industry should see the shift to sustainability as an opportunity for a new, value-adding way of doing business. The transformation is accompanied by an improved reputation and more attractiveness among investors and customers, thus ensuring long-term success in business. With their data expertise and innovative strength, technology companies in particular could drive not only the digital transformation but also the sustainable transformation quickly and effectively.