How to integrate and amplify ESG with the digital workplace  

June 6, 2024 by

In November 2022, DWG boldly stated as one of its predictions for the coming year that:  

“ESG programmes will pressure digital workplace teams to clean up their act. It’s time to start addressing your dirty ecosystem.” 

Alas, cut to November 2023, and the prediction was one of two that had to be marked with a sad red cross rather than a joyful green tick.  

And yet, Edelman’s 2023 Trust Barometer had revealed that trust in businesses to do the right thing for climate change had fallen, dipping below 50%. The call for action had been clear.  

With trust falling, why is it that organizations failed to up their game when it came to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues? 

The concept of ESG has increasingly been facing a backlash from all sides. It is accused as either going way beyond the spheres of responsibility for organizations, or not going far enough and being merely a fig leaf for bad behaviour.  

However, public and employee desire for organizations to be ‘good citizens’ isn’t going away.  

For digital workplace teams, the heat may not yet have been fully turned up on them to fold ESG considerations into their work. But it is definitely starting to simmer, as we have been seeing in our conversations with members and the queries they raise with us. 

ESG and the digital workplace research report cover

The opportunity for this moment of pause – the beat before the next inhale of breath – is to start to get your house in order. Digital workplace practitioners have the chance to take on a leadership role in how the digital workplace can both integrate and amplify their organization’s ESG mission. 

DWG’s new freely available research report ESG and the digital workplace acts as a guide to help you along those first steps, offering a primer on what ESG is, what it means today, and a look at how each pillar of environment, social and governance can support your digital workplace programme – and vice versa.  

ESG as relationships 

One of the key messages of the paper is that it can be helpful to think of ESG in terms of relationships: 

  • Environment: An organization’s relationship with and impact on the environment (sometimes referred to as the ‘more than human’ realm), including a long-term commitment to contribute to a habitable planet for future generations. 
  • Social: An organization’s relationship with and impact on people and communities across its ecosystem, both internally and externally. 
  • Governance: An organization’s relationship and impact on both broader societal cohesion and with itself, grounded in its guiding values and ethics. 

This relational approach helps embed ESG work in the different and interconnected systems within which an organization exists. It reminds us that the organization’s own success and longevity are reliant on the health of each of those systems.  

Integrate and amplify!  

From there, the paper dives into each vertical of environment, social and governance. We look at how practitioners can integrate those particular considerations into how they design and manage the digital workplace, as well as harness the digital workplace to amplify the organization’s wider ESG work. 

 Environment Social Governance 
Integrate within the digital workplace Minimizing (and ideally reversing) the environmental impact of hardware and software used for the digital workplace, including through sustainable UX methodologies and through vendor and supplier partnerships.  Approaching the digital workplace through an inclusivity lens, taking in elements such as developing an impactful and co-created digital employee experience (DEX), and focusing on digital inclusion, digital accessibility and digital wellbeing. Embracing transparent, ethical and participatory approaches for how the digital workplace is designed, managed and held accountable.  
Amplify with the  
digital workplace 
Telling the story of the organization’s environmental impact journey through the digital workplace,  
while also hosting conversations, support and learning for employees (for example, on coping with  
Making an organization’s equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts readily accessible through the digital workplace, through both storytelling and policies. Also supporting a digital community for employee resource groups, and ongoing EDI learning for employees.  Using the digital workplace to make the organization’s governing structures, processes and policies easily findable, while also using the digital workplace to help minimize the power distance between senior leadership and employees (for example, through participatory decision making, conversations and feedback mechanisms). 

Roman Krznaric invites us to consider the question ‘How can we be good ancestors?’ through his book The Good Ancestor: How to think long-term in a short-term world. For organizations and digital workplace teams, the opportunity of ESG is to actively live the answers to that question.  

Download the research for free 

ESG and the digital workplace research report cover

ESG and the digital workplace: 
A primer on integrating and amplifying the organization’s mission   

Download now >> 

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This report forms part of DWG’s best practice Research Library of 120+ reports covering key areas such as strategy and governance, personalization, user experience and change management for intranets and digital workplaces. 

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Categorised in: ESG

Shimrit Janes

Shimrit is Director of Knowledge for DWG, focused on curating knowledge on the digital workplace for its members and clients such as Adobe, The Coca-Cola Company, and Ubisoft. Shimrit has worked with Paul and DWG colleagues on various initiatives, such as Digital Nations Group, as well as co-hosting the 24-hour global digital experience DWG24. She has had a number of research papers published with DWG on topics such as organizational readiness and collaboration. Shimrit lives in London, where she crochets, enjoys video games and keeps more books than the space allows.

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