Cyber-Security and Social Value – Joining the Dots for ESG

ESG is a term that is becoming ever more popular yet can still feel shrouded in some mystery. The acronym simply stands for the measurement of elements that apply to every business: Environmental, Social Governance.

Over the last few decades, organisations have become more aware of the economic, social and environmental impact they have on the world around them, and more active in ensuring that impact is positive. Social Value is an umbrella term for these effects, and by contributing to the well-being, quality of life and resilience of individuals, communities and globally, organisations can be seen as adding Social Value. This work might have previously involved different areas of business and come under different titles. However, the largest area of most of today’s organisations is often overlooked – the IT systems! How do these affect Social Value? How does ESG relate to Cyber Security?

What happens when data is lost or stolen? You don’t have to look far to find headlines of data breaches. The effects can be wide-reaching, in a ripple effect that goes far beyond company boundaries; that’s where ESG comes in.

ESG is about measuring the impact of your organisation, from the immediate and obvious, to elements further down the supply chain. When data is lost it may be unused or sold on, so the subject is not immediately affected; but if their identity is stolen or their finances compromised, it could be lifechanging.

Staff involved in the breach may lose their jobs, and even lose their relationships or homes, suffering prolonged stress as a result. These examples might be extreme, yet they easily illustrate just how important ESG can be in measuring a company’s far-reaching impact and raising awareness.

Consider the supply chain too. Are your switches and routers, firewalls and gateways capable of reuse, re-engineering or repurposing? If not, what happens at their end of life? Landfill?

For organisations looking to truly improve their standing within their communities, and globally, effective ESG measurement is essential.

How do we define and measure ESG?

Finances are often easiest to monitor and report on, but what about everything else? The impact on the people you employ or serve, or the effect your day-to-day dealings have on your local environment? It can seem like these things can’t easily be tracked – yet they can.

To help you do this well, Accordant has developed software and tools that do the calculations for you - we call it the Accordant Solutions Library, (AccSL®).  Accordant has placed ESG at the heart of its development, helping organisations understand their purpose and impacts across a range of different areas. Also, how they can effectively link technology and cyber decisions to social and environmental benefits - evaluating, monitoring and reporting on them effectively.

ESG & IT – connecting IT Choices and ESG measurement in practice

Although each case is unique, let’s consider this example: Working with a housing association to upgrade its IT systems. We developed a solution that used Cloud-based technology and automation processes. The changes allowed the company to move its existing data centre and install telephony systems that connected with newer technologies such as 4G.

The upgrades required a £980,000 investment yet enabled a saving and benefits of over £280,000 per year through changes in operating expenses and working practices. This was reinvested to install additional street lighting and CCTV systems in a housing development where crime had been an issue.

The housing association worked in partnership with the police, NHS, social services and community groups. As a first step, staff were able to track that the measures had led to reduction in incidents of street crime, drug dealing and other petty crimes and link these back to tangible positive outcomes:

  • Environment: Less power was used because the cloud data centre was efficient and green, support staff spent less time travelling to resolve user issues, and there was greater saving for enhanced services, creating a net positive carbon impact.
  • Social: Reductions in crime meant an improved standard of living for local residents, who experienced less stress and anxiety and sought fewer interventions from health services. There was improved social inclusion and community engagement in the area, less policing, better take up of housing and lower calls for property maintenance; all of which has improved the feeling of security and prosperity for residents.
  • Governance: The operational savings made through changing the IT system created an impressive return on investment for the housing association and made the money available for reinvestment in the local community.
     

Putting these and other metrics in the annual board report for the organisation demonstrated social value and helps ensure ongoing bid success and secure further grant funding – a virtuous circle is evolving.

Event Diary

digitech21 will seek to demystify the increasingly complex technology landscape and will showcase a host of public sector best practice case studies and the very best solution providers, each of whom are helping organisations to transform and improve the way in which the public sector delivers services to the citizen.

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