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Why all businesses need to think about social responsibility

I have a plan for 2020 in regards to my monthly blogs and articles that I post on LinkedIn. Some of them relate to the work I do at Colt Technology Services in the area of inclusion and diversity, some of them relate to the industry project I have led for the last two years, and some of them will, of course, be about the #ColtBikeRide, our annual global fund-raising event for children’s charities. I had another blog planned for January, however the news over the past few weeks has caused me to shift my focus.

Instead, what I would like to bring attention to are the ongoing bushfires in Australia (my homeland) and the impact they are having, as well as the changes they are bringing to bear for the future. While I have been an ex-pat in Singapore and the UK for the last 10 years now, in the words of Peter Allen – I still call Australia home.

Many Australians will have grown up with the best known verse from the Dorothea Mackellar poem, My Country;

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land for me.

As at the 14 January 2020, the statistics from these fires were that 18.6 million hectares (72,000 square miles) of land has been burnt out, 5,900 buildings (2,683 of them homes) have been lost and at least 30 people have died as a direct result of the fires.  It is also estimated, conservatively, that around 1 billion animals have died, including up to 60% of the koala population. As Australians we have seen a number of fire incidents and accept bushfire as part of that “sunburnt country” we so love – with Black Friday, Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday used to recognise devastating bushfires in Australia in 1939, 1983 and 2009 respectively.

As there is naturally with any large-scale state of emergency, people seek to understand the cause of such devastation. In the case of the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires, periods of unusually high temperatures, combined with a long period of drought is thought to be significant contributing factors. This leads to more discussion regarding climate change and the role that everyone needs to play in this.

While I don’t intend to start a debate on climate change specifically, technology and connectivity have a role to play in how we deal with this issue. In fact, a statement made by the World Economic Forum after their 2019 annual meeting said, “Connectivity will be a key enabler for many, if not most, exponential climate solutions … In this report, we argue the digital technology sector is probably the world’s most powerful influencer to accelerate action to stabilize global temperatures well below 2°C.”

They published a report, Exponential Climate Action Roadmap, which outlines how carbon reduction can be implemented across all key sectors of the global economy, with technology playing a critical role.

So, while these bushfires are deeply personal to me, what I really want to highlight is the social responsibility that every business and every individual has to ensuring a viable future for the next generation and the one after that. There is no silver bullet to securing this future, and it will be a combination of initiatives, but it cannot be done in isolation. Technology will play a part in this, for example the work that is being done by car manufacturers to move to electric cars, or the way in which Australia and Singapore are collaborating to cater for power consumption needs from solar energy, but we can always do more.

At Colt, we are thinking about how we can reduce our climate impact, how we help to transform our customers experience by providing more efficient and sustainable solutions. It’s a problem that needs to be top of mind across industry and across geographies, but one that can only be solved by collaborating for one shared goal – a more sustainable future for all.

Louisa Gregory, Chief of Staff and VP, Inclusion and Diversity, Colt Technology Services

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