Building a Sustainability Strategy for Business

In recent years, expectations have increased significantly for organisations to make meaningful climate commitments. A Deloitte survey finds that nearly 60% of businesses feel increased pressure from stakeholders to develop and disclose plans that address climate risk. It’s safe to say that the modern business landscape requires a new focus on climate responsibilities. 

In this blog, we explore the modern business landscape and how responsible companies are taking action to increase business productivity in the digital age and reduce their impact on the environment.

Learn more by reading the whitepaper: Building sustainability into the modern business landscape 

Calling for sustainability strategy

Businesses today are facing increasing demands for climate commitments and transparency on data about progress toward those goals. These voices come from all sides; customers, employees, regulators and investors. 53% of the UK’s workforce say sustainability is an important factor in choosing a company to work for.

While carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.4% in 2020, as a result of reduced economic and social activity, global carbon emissions have already bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. As in-office work resumes in full force, organisations have a rare opportunity to reexamine the way they impact the environment and make large-scale operational changes to focus on sustainability. In the same way that companies are looking to preserve the benefits of a remote workforce by continuing to utilise flexible work arrangements, they can also retain emissions improvements by making digital workflows permanent.

How to build sustainability into your organisation

For any organisation looking to reduce overall emissions, the best strategy is to identify achievable targets and commit to specific reduction goals. Modern organisations break emissions down into three categories:

  • Scope 1 emissions 

These are emissions under their direct ownership or operational control of an organisation. 

  • Scope 2 emissions 

These are the emissions an organisation makes indirectly – like the purchase of electricity or energy for heating and cooling buildings.

  • Scope 3 emissions 

Scope 3 emissions are more complicated because it involves all the emissions associated, not with the organisation itself but with its supply chain. Calculating, then eliminating, value chain emissions (known as Scope 3) can be an intimidating prospect because the organisation is not directly responsible for them. 

However, this indirect resource usage makes up the majority of emissions output for companies in most sectors - with Scope 3 emissions accounting for more than 70 percent of their carbon footprint

While there are certainly barriers to reducing these emissions, there’s also an enormous opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. It can also lead to substantial business benefits. Companies that can mitigate supply chain risks will open the door for collaboration with more innovative partners and increase their ability to respond to mounting pressure from investors, customers and regulators. Businesses need to analyse each of the three types of emissions individually and come up with clear goals for each. That includes looking back at past performance (using hard numbers) and determining driving factors for each. From there, companies need to examine reasonable steps they can take to reduce emissions and estimate the quantitative impact those actions will have on emissions measurement.

Learn more about: The accountable supply chain, and how you can operationalise ESG with digital agreements

Leveraging technology and digital workflows to reduce waste and emissions 

The modern organisation has a unique opportunity to embrace environmental momentum and build sustainability into every part of an entirely new workflow. The wastefulness of traditional, outdated workflows is being replaced by remote-friendly cloud workflows that can reduce or even eliminate certain types of waste and emissions.

In pursuing material climate action, Docusign is focused on creating a sustainable business with the environment as a key stakeholder in that business. Given the belief that Docusign has an important role in creating a low-carbon, sustainable future, we want to leverage the core strengths of our products and build on the philanthropic foundations of Docusign IMPACT in crafting a meaningful sustainability initiative. To commit to the climate, we launched Docusign for Forests in 2019, including philanthropic support for forest-focused nonprofits, hands-on and virtual volunteer opportunities and a paper impact calculator in our core eSignature product. Our focus on forests also informs investments in forest projects that reduce emissions as we make progress toward our goal to be operationally carbon neutral in 2022.

Daisy O'Malley Glynn
Marketing Communications Specialist
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