Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage (Imperative!)

Nicola Acutt, Vice President Sustainability Strategy, VMware

VMworld US is just days away, and there is a new track that you need to check out: Emerging Technologies and Trends! With a focus on how your business can best navigate this era of digital transformation, the Office of the CTO (OCTO) will look at the global context for the challenges of digital transformation, and will introduce how IT plays an increasingly important role in delivering innovative solutions that not only solve complex problems but help address broader imperatives.

There is no shortage of opinions about Sustainability these days. “Sustainable IT” (or “Green IT”) is a catch-all term used to describe the manufacture, management, use and disposal of information technology in a way that minimizes damage to the environment. As a result, the term has many different meanings, depending on whether you are a manufacturer, manager or user of technology. Once seen as something the EH&S (Environmental Health & Safety) department dealt with, sustainability has evolved from a compliance issue to a competitive one with implications for our customers and business ecosystems.

For starters, it may surprise people to know that “ESG” or Environmental, Social and Governance performance, is increasingly seen as a business issue considered by the financial services industry as having potentially material impacts on investments. While not yet mandatory, companies representing close to 60% of the market capitalization of the world’s largest stock exchanges all disclose their environmental impact data to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). Additionally, this non-financial performance data is also now an input into Bloomberg terminals.

At VMware, our own evolution and thinking on this topic reflects the transformation from a compliance issue to a business initiative led by OCTO. VMware’s net-positive legacy was best captured in an IDC study on carbon emissions avoidance associated with server virtualization last year.  Building on this work, one of the initiatives we will be highlighting at VMworld this year is the recent work in OCTO to extend our product sustainability impact analysis to include storage and networking.

In another related trend, we see increasing expectations from our customers and suppliers to disclose their ESG performance. We’re being asked not only for our social, environmental and ethical standards, but for information regarding our position on Climate Change and most recently, whether or not we have a “Green Code” initiative.

In the upcoming VMworld session FUT2051BU, co-presented with my colleague Rob Glanzman from OCTO, we will be exploring the market forces at play and implications for your IT infrastructure and business holistically. While VMware’s products clearly provide customers with a Sustainability advantage, we believe we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible to truly drive greater sustainability throughout your organization. Please join us to gain early insight into on some of the innovation projects underway at VMware and learn how you can utilize sustainability as a competitive advantage!

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