Climate change policies are no longer a 'nice to have' - They must be at the heart of business practices

clock • 3 min read

Tara McGeehan, President of CGI in the UK and Australia, argues all businesses need to make climate action core to their long term strategy

For decades, businesses have measured their success on profits and growth, often without consideration of whether these were sustainable or the cost to our planet. In recent years, attitudes have begun to shift as organisations of all sizes wake up to the devastating impact that this has had on our climate. Today, we can no longer ignore how urgent the need for change really is and businesses must act quickly to implement more sustainable practices at the forefront of their operations.

CGI has a robust strategy, and we take seriously the role we play in the IT consulting and services space and how we can support our clients in delivering on their commitments, as well as addressing their climate impact. Here in the UK, we have committed to initiatives such as the Race to Zero, promising to achieve net-zero even before CGI's global target of 2030. We have also committed to Science Based Targets (SBTs) in line with the Paris Agreement, alongside other leading international companies that are committed to preventing the worst impacts of climate change. 

Having done the difficult job of identifying our own shortfalls and implementing a plan to address them, we have now started our journey to becoming a business that is increasingly ethical and sustainable. Some of the things we are doing include implementing IoT solutions in our buildings to monitor CO2, humidity, energy usage, temperature and occupancy; installing solar panels and additional electric vehicle charging points; reducing our waste to landfill; and working with our suppliers to encourage them to adopt SBTs.

Our employees, who we refer to as members, have been instrumental in driving and guiding our own approach to net zero, and we have implemented a 'No Planet B' member initiative within our business where members suggest, share and drive changes, both in their work and home life which have a positive effect on the future of our planet. We have created the role of Net Zero Programme Lead, working alongside our Corporate Social Responsibility team, whose objective is to ensure we are tracking and delivering on our commitments.

We are also seeing our clients look to their supply chains to help them address climate change, and we work closely with our clients and our suppliers to actively encourage the integration of climate and natural capital risks into corporate decision-making and promote supply chain decarbonisation.  We have created support frameworks that scale innovations and accelerate the transition towards a net-zero economy - while ensuring that sustainability takes priority in our Corporate Social Responsibility commitments. Now, we are encouraging our peers in the technology sector and are ramping up our efforts to empower other businesses to do the same.

Business has a vital role to play in what must be a collective effort to deliver a sustainable, resilient, net zero economy. I am therefore delighted to have been invited to be part of the COP26 Business Leaders Group, which is championing ambitious climate action among B7+4 businesses in the run up to the COP26 conference.

There is no longer a trade-off between doing the right thing and operating in a way that preserves our planet for the future generations. In the words of the COP26 President and co-chair of the Business Leaders Group, Alok Sharma, "We can, and we must, rise to the occasion."

Tara McGeehan is President of CGI in UK and Australia. She was appointed as President in 2018 and leads a team of over 5,500 professionals and consultants. Tara joined CGI in 2001 and prior to becoming President, served as Senior Vice-President responsible for the North and Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Business Unit where she developed business across commercial and government industries. Tara previously worked as a Senior Manager at National Grid and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering. As Senior Sponsor of the UK Diversity programme, Tara is passionate about diversity and encouraging young people and women to enter the technology industry. She was also recently appointed to the COP26 Business Leaders Group, and will play an important role in championing ambitious climate action among B7+4 businesses in the run up to the COP26 conference.

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