PETALING JAYA: Companies in the Asean bloc, including Malaysia, lack a holistic sustainability strategy amid the environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives gaining strong momentum in the region.
To ensure success and that sustainability strategies are impactful and comprehensive, Kyndryl Malaysia managing director Joey Mak said companies must collaborate with partners that are aligned with their goals and hold them accountable.
He told StarBiz that the move to value creation is an important paradigm shift as it focuses on potential business opportunities posed by the sustainability agenda, adding that integrating sustainability and digital transformation drives stronger business performance.
“To get started, organisations should think strategically about adopting a data-first approach and tackling the data availability challenges.
“Unlocking the power of data is key to driving a holistic approach to sustainability objectives. To truly make a difference, sustainability must be a core component of any company’s organising principles, a C-suite mandate, and a major part of its DNA.
“Finally, it requires leadership from businesses of every size and industry,” he said. C-suite refers to the executive-level managers within a company.
Kyndryl, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is one of the world’s largest information technology infrastructure services providers.
It has about 90,000 employees and serves over 4,000 customers in about 100 countries worldwide, including 75% of the Fortune 100 companies.
Mak said all the countries in Asean are members of the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative, and have issued green bonds either at the government or corporate level.
Besides lacking a holistic sustainability strategy, he said data is also one of the challenges for sustainability initiatives.
Based on a recent study, he said data availability is among the top three barriers to sustainability projects in Asean.
In today’s data-driven world, he said it is very likely that organisations have access to the data needed for their sustainability efforts.
“It is, however, not often integrated within their overall data strategy to help identify the right data sets, collect the necessary data across all operations, and have embedded analytics that provide the right insights.
“It can take up to two years to identify and harness the data required to set science-based targets,” Mak said.
Putting sustainability into practice effectively requires conviction, fortified by a strong technological and data foundation, in addition to open innovation, he added.
Kyndryl recently collaborated with technology research and advisory firm Ecosystm to publish the “Kyndryl Asean Digital Transformation Study 2022.”
Over 500 Asean C-suite leaders participated in the study, and the findings revealed that 77% of organisations are focusing on becoming sustainable.
Despite the greater focus on sustainability, many of the sustainability goals are often unclear, making it difficult for organisations to know where to start and how to execute, it noted.
In Asean, only 23% of organisations have a corporate sustainability strategy in place, the study cited.
While sustainability initiatives are yet to mature, Mak said some industries are already leading the way.
The media and telecoms as well as energy and utilities industries, for example, are among the most mature industries that have been given cost-related incentives to adopt sustainable practices for future survival, he said.
“Other industries that have initiated smaller eco-friendly measures have also found some success.
“This includes the retail industry where there has been a focus on reducing the use of plastic in packaging and procuring locally to reduce carbon footprints,” he said.
He said the hospitality industry has also introduced energy-efficient lighting and measures such as recycling linens to reduce water use.
“Regardless of the industry, the sustainability movement is experiencing a shift as its key drivers – from ending poverty, and promoting diversity and inclusion, to supporting the circular economy – become integrated into mainstream corporate environments.
“Sustainability initiatives have often been perceived as being cost centres for organisations.
“However, there is now growing evidence that leveraging the right scale and method can transform the ESG and sustainability agenda into a key source of value creation and differentiation for organisations,” Mak added.