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"Purpose as the greatest (and best) commitment for managers in the age of sustainability"

ISCTE, one of the most recognized Portuguese universities, just launched a book that brought together 101 personalities who were invited to share their vision regarding sustainability and social responsibility in our planet.

“101 Voices for Sustainability”* has a preface by António Guterres, General Secretary of the UN, and views from leaders like António Costa Silva, Minister for Economy and the Sea, Luísa Schmidt, Sociologist, among others.

As one of the guests in the book, Unipartner’s President, Fernando Reino da Costa addressed the positive impact of Digital innovation in building a more socially responsible and sustainable world.

Read Fernando's article below.

Purpose as the greatest (and best) commitment for managers in the age of sustainability

by Fernando Reino da Costa

These last two years, in which we were faced with Covid-19, have brought greater urgency to digital transformation roadmaps, which, combined with an increasing resilience, allowed organizations that were already on this path to be the ones that best adapted to change. Today, Digital is transversal to all areas and has become something that is essential, but there is now another factor at the top of organizations' priorities, that goes side-by-side with digital transformation: sustainability.

The concept of “sustainable development” is not entirely new, and it were the United Nations (UN) that, in 1987, presented its first definition: “development that meets the current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, ensuring a balance between economic growth, care for the environment and social well-being”.

Concerns about sustainability are also not new, but it’s certain that they have gained a prominent place more recently, in what we call “the modern world”. The uniqueness is not in the concept, but in its constantly evolving perception, which has gained even more importance in these last two years marked by digital transformation. Concepts such as «energy transition» and «sustainable development» are now at the top of managers’ agenda, whatever the sector of activity, and are bringing relevant changes to citizens, but also in the way they relate to each other, live or work.

In fact, the directive on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSDR), published in April 2021 by the European Commission, reinforced this paradigm shift and introduced new rules in the corporate world, with the aim of exploring the potential of the Single European Market to leverage the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economic and financial system, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The main challenge for companies has now become about generating a positive impact on the world, and this is the key to a better adaptation to the era of digital transformation and the modern world. What is new, I would say, is the awareness that digital is the “ingredient” for a more sustainable world. This point leads me to positively assess that the EU's vision of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) is exactly on these two axes, and somehow formalizes the priority and union of digital with sustainability."

The feeling that the European Commission and the Member States are committed to the implementation of directives and standards is valid, aiming for transparency regarding sustainability in the business world. It is now up to us, managers and leaders, to become more involved in responding to environmental challenges, whether through internal initiatives, which may include the simple adoption of remote or hybrid work (thus contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions), or through the change of fleet (to electric vehicles), as well as in the response and solutions that we present to our customers.

At this stage, I would say that “commitment” is the keyword here, especially regarding the 2030 metrics. It is necessary to establish concrete goals for all parties involved in the business, from infrastructures, to supply chains, back-offices and front-offices, operations, among others. The entire value chain reveals impacts, but also opportunities for innovation and transformation, with very positive contributions.

At Unipartner, the concern about sustainability has been with us since the beginning. Our purpose as an organization is to create a positive impact on people's lives through digital innovation, while promoting sustainability, social responsibility and well-being. Our action focuses on 3 vectors officially designated ESGs, which stands for environmental, social (in terms of well-being, quality of life and requalification of people) and governance aspects – growing legally and ethically, ensuring transparency and best-practices to all stakeholders. Through internal and external initiatives, we aim to leverage the power of digital technologies to reshape the way we produce and grow today, making a significant and positive contribution to society and the health of the planet. This is a vision that we have incorporated into our ethos and culture as an organization.

Today, technology is a new way to implement greener solutions, mobilize people and encourage behavior change. Digital act as an enabler, for example, for the much-needed energy transition and for the new models of distributed production, as well as the element that allows us to work remotely and speak today of a transformation of work models. These are just two examples, amongst many others that lead us to aspire to a world in which companies and organizations, of all sizes, carry out their own digital transformation journey with the purpose of contributing to a more sustainable and responsible world.

As members of the international organization, GeSI, and its “Digital with Purpose” movement that unites sustainability and technology, we believe that investing in digital with this focus, with this purpose, is a priority. Firstly, it helps create visibility and transparency about each organization's emissions, then it accelerates its transformation, innovation and differentiation, through the implementation of digital solutions and business models with positive impacts on the SDGs. Finally, it reinforces commitment to its own plan and contribution towards 2030.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a criterion: it is already today, but will be even more so in the near future, a central aspect of competitiveness and business, establishing an authentic value advantage. Therefore, it helps organizations and companies differentiate themselves in the market and to place themselves in a more favorable position, not only nationally but also globally. I also believe that, in addition to hiring rules and regulations, the main responsible for rewarding or "discarding" companies and organizations will be the market itself - consumers and citizens -, since this mindset is increasingly present in younger people. They will choose to work at and buy products and services that show a true commitment to change, that are transparent about their emissions, their value chains and the positive contribution of their operations to the SDGs.

It is necessary to assume that Digital has a positive impact on people's lives and that it influences the way they relate, communicate, live or work. It is therefore urgent to move quickly from vision to action, and not forget that every contribution counts.

Find out more about the book and order your copy here.


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