Can Software Save the World?
11 September 2008 at 5:48 pm
Although the software industry is a relative newcomer to corporate social responsibility (CSR), companies in this sector are already making waves with innovative products and services that are meant to advance the way people, businesses and communities interact to achieve sustainable development.
That’s the conclusion of “Software Accelerates Sustainable Development,” a new report by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). In the past year, the BSR Software Working Group has convened leading software companies — including Adobe, Autodesk, HP, McAfee, Microsoft, SAP and Symantec — to identify and prioritize the most important CSR issues for the sector.
Commenting on BSR’s work with industry stakeholders such as investment analysts, environmental and social advocacy organizations, and CSR thought leaders Cody Sisco, BSR’s Manager, Advisory Services says the software industry has a responsibility — and the potential — to contribute solutions to the world’s sustainability challenges.
Based on the BSR Software Working Group model, the report identified three key steps software companies can take to collaborate on CSR issues:
– Establish a shared purpose around the most important issues:::: Materiality analysis at an industry level has clarified what is most important, has identified opportunities for collaboration and has brought companies up to speed on the issues. For the software industry, the most important issues are innovation and software solutions to achieve sustainable development; governance, ethics, compliance and transparency; global workforce management and employee engagement; access, privacy and security; and environmental issues such as energy management and climate change.
Although there is substantial activity underway, more attention and effort is needed to make progress in these areas.
– Engage with stakeholders in ongoing discussions and activities: In many industries, stakeholders have a limited view of the business challenges and opportunities related to sustainability. Likewise, business leaders often miss out on important discussions about sustainability trends affecting their own company and partners throughout their industry’s value chain. Ongoing dialogue builds mutual understanding and insights, particularly in an industry such as software, where CSR is a new priority.
– Lead the industry through research on emerging trends and opportunities: By
providing thought leadership, companies can accelerate conversations internally to tap into employees’ enthusiasm for sustainable development. Innovation sparked by interactions among stakeholders with different expertise and viewpoints can result in break through products and services. For example, pairing environmental experts, software developers and marketing gurus can be the source of product innovation to address sustainability challenges.
Sisco says this is an exciting opportunity for the software industry to really make an impact in CSR. The BSR Software Working Group member companies are helping define how software products and services can solve sustainable development issues — and this is the kind of innovation that just might save the world.
For more information about BSR’s Software Working Group, please contact Cody Sisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BSR is a Not for profit business association that serves its 250 member companies and other Global 1000 enterprises. Through advisory services and research, BSR works with corporations and concerned stakeholders of all types to create a more just and sustainable global economy. For more information, visit www.bsr.org.