Sustainable Information Technology

How to Align Green IT with CSR

In part two of our guide to implementing Green IT in a large or medium sized organisation, we look at aligning with CSR before the Green IT project is even approved or started.

Managers responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility should be among the staunchest supporters of the Green IT initiative. If any elements of the proposed Green IT changes don’t fit in with CSR policy or the overall vision for CSR in your organisation, you’ll be involved in an uphill struggle from the start.

Foundations of Your Green IT Initiative

Getting the Green IT project off on the right foot involves three related activities:

Why align Green IT with CSR?

Communicate Green IT vision to CSR

Communicate Green IT vision to CSR (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green IT is not just a technical issue of moving to virtualised server environments or wider use of SaaS models. If that is all you are trying to do, and the benefits of the project are mostly financial and technical, then normal governance structures should suffice. If the CSR policy is effectively managed, it will be deeply embedded in the Change Governance models of your organisation already.

In other words, when your virtualisation-type project is being approved, there will be a challenge from CSR to ensure compliance with their standards.

However, this is not what true Green IT is about. Your project should be taking into account the complete Green IT life cycle including manufacture, procurement, use and disposal of IT technologies and services.

You’ll be concerned not just with usage emissions, but with the bigger picture of embedded emissions. You’ll also need to communicate your efforts internally and externally, and the CSR policy may have its own approach to how communication should be coordinated and carried out.

How to Align Green IT with CSR

You will need to align with both the CSR policy and the people who created and manage it day to day. Formal alignment with the policy itself is probably the easiest of these activities. Obviously, a deep knowledge and understanding of any written CSR policies is essential. Here are the specifics to look out for:

  • The policy will probably have internal and external elements. Make sure that your Green IT plans don’t seriously contravene either of these
  • For example, external elements might involve endorsing a government approach to waste disposal. The way in which you are proposing IT equipment is disposed of or recycled will have to comply with or exceed expectations
  • As already mentioned, internal elements will most likely involve a communication plan.  You may need to fight your corner in terms of controlling your Green IT communications, but in the end you will want to be seen by all stakeholders as being an integral part of the organisation’s CSR efforts

Be a CSR People Person

The more skilful and subtle part of aligning with CSR involves gaining the support of the people involved. The general approach to ‘how to win hearts and minds’ was covered in Part 1. More specifically:
  • Make it clear that you have taken the time to understand Corporate Social Responsibility policies
  • Get up to speed with current CSR initiatives, and use IT and your own influence to support them where you can
  • Explain clearly how Green IT doesn’t just comply with CSR, but advances its agenda
  • Outline any areas of concern early, and find a constructive way forward

In Part Three, we’ll look at Creating a Rock Solid Business Case for Green IT.

Go to Part One – Green IT Plan: How to Win Hearts and Minds

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