While sustainability has long been a well-known and adopted business slogan, large companies and even financial institutions are taking note. More businesses are turning to a focus on zero emissions, carbon offsets, clean energy, climate tech, decarbonization, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.
Research shows that 60% of businesses today embrace sustainability, and growing evidence suggests that ESG and green initiatives lead to greater profitability. Recent data demonstrates that 64% of consumers chose environmentally sustainable or socially responsible products in at least half of their last purchases. Now, the sustainability movement is becoming part of the channel–and the new way of doing business. Here’s what that means.
What Sustainability Is and Why It Matters
Sustainability has become one of the biggest ways governments, businesses, and individuals are addressing climate change and demonstrating responsibility to their customers. Many major corporations now offer a sustainability pledge. Microsoft, for example, announced at the beginning of 2020 its commitment to becoming carbon negative by 2030. Amazon has also pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and, in 2019, the company founded the Climate Pledge to encourage other companies to do the same. Most of the world’s largest companies issue a sustainability report, and nearly one-third of Europe’s largest companies have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Sustainability goes beyond protecting the environment. It is a holistic mindset that addresses the social, economic, and ethical implications of climate change along with social inequalities and wage disparities. Quite simply, sustainability is about understanding the strong link between ecological and social stability, and about creating the conditions for a thriving planet. According to McGill University, “Sustainability is not just environmentalism. Embedded in most definitions of sustainability we also find concerns for social equity and economic development.”
What Does Sustainability Mean for the Channel?
Large vendors have taken the lead in rolling out sustainability programs, not just internally but for their channel partners. In February 2021, Hewlett Packard introduced HP Amplify Impact, an industry-first partner assessment, resource, and training program that reflects the company’s ambition to become the world’s most sustainable technology company by 2030. This initiative enabled its partner network to tap into HP’s “extensive knowledge, training, and resources to assess and improve their own sustainability performance while optimizing sustainability-driven sales opportunities.” A year later, HP Amplify Impact rolled out to an additional 24 countries. The program is now available in 43 countries around the globe, with the potential to reach more than 10,000 partners.
“We all have a shared stake in safeguarding our planet and having a positive effect on the communities we serve,” said Kobi Elbaz, General Manager of HP’s Global Channel Organization. “By partnering with our vast global channel ecosystem, we can more effectively scale our goals in forging a path toward a better future for all.”
Hewlett Packard already realized what a growing chorus of corporations now are learning: Resellers are crucial partners in making the planet a better, safer place. Increasingly, as major corporations lead the charge on combatting climate change and social responsibility, channel partners are expected to join the effort. Business discussions will revolve around how to decrease carbon footprints and replace traditional mindsets with more sustainable, eco-friendly solutions.
It goes way beyond cost savings; sustainability is now viewed as an important requirement for any kind of request for proposal (RFP) or business partnership. A May 2020 study found that “the majority of supply chain RFPs currently include sustainability (70%), while another 24% will start including it in the future.”
According to Alastair Borissow, VP of Circular Technology Solutions at distributor Westcon-Comstor, “Sustainability credentials are beginning to lead decisions. It is getting more teeth within the organization. Sustainability used to be an afterthought, but now you could have two potential partners and one might be slightly cheaper than the other, but if it doesn’t have a sustainability play in it, it doesn’t get chosen.”
How Some Companies Incentivize Sustainable Solutions
With growing pressure from governments and corporations alike, many organizations such as Hewlett Packard are encouraging their partners to get serious about sustainability. Green technology solutions not only make environmental sense but are increasingly financially lucrative thanks to lucrative tax credits and other subsidies. Below are just a handful of the many sustainability partnership initiatives unfolding in the channel.
VMware’s Zero Carbon Committed Initiative: As part of its own 2030 net-zero initiative, the cloud computing and virtualization technology company is seeking to ensure that by 2030 all VMware public clouds and data centers will be powered with renewable energy and run infrastructure-, energy-, and carbon-efficient operations. In turn, channel partners can confidently pitch VMware solutions to sustainability-minded prospects.
Salesforce Drives Sustainability Management: To complement its own journey to Net Zero emissions, Salesforce has rolled out “Net Zero Cloud” to its business partners. Net Zero Cloud provides enterprises with a reliable reporting dashboard and means to track their emissions in real time using sophisticated data analysis, which enables them to take immediate action toward meeting corporate climate objectives.
Bringg Is Greening the Supply Chain: Bringg is a delivery and fulfillment cloud platform for “last-mile” delivery and a Salesforce ISV partner on the AppExchange committed to helping raise awareness of the supply chain’s impact on the planet. To accelerate their eco-friendly efforts, the company created BringgGreen, a sustainability tech practice that offers customers and partners a suite of educational resources and solutions for tracking their last-mile sustainability efforts and communicating their own sustainability initiatives to their end customers.
Microsoft Accelerates Net Zero Reporting: The recent release of the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is significant, given the company’s huge global footprint. The platform provides partners with ways to enhance their sustainability efforts in four core areas: Unifying data intelligence, building a sustainable IT infrastructure, reducing the environmental impact of operations, and creating sustainable value chains.
For channel partners, today’s focus on sustainability means going the extra mile to develop strategies and best practices for a more eco-friendly and equitable planet. This journey can start with companies examining existing products and services, tracking their carbon footprint, inquiring into vendor initiatives, and being closely aligned with their own customer and target market’s attitudes toward sustainability. Make this the year of purposeful actions or renewed commitments to a successful sustainability journey.