The majority of large businesses are not considering IT as part of their sustainability approach, according to a new study.
According to Citrix, just 28% describe IT sustainability as a "top priority" for the businesses beyond mandatory reporting and regulatory requirements.
Although 60% of large businesses in the UK have a specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability strategy in place for IT, just 37% currently measure greenhouse gas emissions created by day-to-day computing by employees.
The majority of respondents working in the telecoms sector (70%) confirmed that this is currently measured by their organisation. Yet only 15% of those in utilities, 19% of those in healthcare, 40% of those in local government, and 43% of those in technology could say the same.
The data also suggests there is division amongst large UK businesses in regards to the measurement of IT end user device electricity consumption, with 55% currently measuring the consumption of devices such as desktops, laptops, notebooks and tablets. A further 59% currently measure IT data centre electricity consumption.
Breaking down the barriers to change
Almost a third (31%) of managerial knowledge workers – those in management roles up to CxO level in companies of 250+ employees – believe that IT departments have more of an impact than any other department when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, improving sustainability and driving widespread and crucial change across the whole business. This is reflected in the fact that the majority of Chief Technology Officers (93%) and Chief Information Officers (83%) are responsible for reporting on IT electricity consumption across the business.
Interestingly, a large proportion of Chief Financial Officers (88%) are now responsible for reporting to the board on IT use related to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, 78% of CFOs are subject to performance measurements such as goals or KPIs related to IT sustainability, which suggests that organisations across the UK understand the potential financial implications of not shifting towards more sustainable IT practices.
However, 48% of respondents cited budget constraints as the biggest barrier holding back their organisation from building a more sustainable IT model. A lack of time (33%) and board support (21%), as well as employee pushback to changes made to IT (20%), were also cited as significant barriers.
Michelle Senecal de Fonseca, area vice president for Northern Europe at Citrix, said: “Anthropogenic interference has already caused a 1° C rise in global temperature. With no time to lose, every business in every industry must think about how they can reduce carbon emissions, improve sustainability and embrace greener practices by default.
"With digital technologies having an unprecedented impact on the workplace, organisations should review their existing IT infrastructure and evaluate its efficiency. They will soon realise they can cut their impact on the environment by transitioning workloads from less efficient on-premises data centres and migrating to hyperscale hosted cloud services."