Unlocking equitable growth: the role of the CEO in driving change


Flags of various countries

If you weren’t convinced already, the past few weeks at COP26 have shown us that climate change is a real, accelerating threat to our children and future generations. 

There’s no denying either that businesses have played a role in creating this situation. Unsustainable practices of the past century are now fully coming to a head. 

But, to paraphrase David Attenborough’s comments earlier this month, where business has created problems in the past, we are more than powerful enough to solve them. 

And solve them we will. The climate crisis is an opportunity for total transformation: for solid collaboration between businesses, for next-level innovation, and the chance to create a better world. 

The importance of equitable growth

To get there, we need to focus on equitable growth. 

But what does that mean?

For CEOs, there are three key areas to focus on.

Firstly, equitable growth is about fulfilling our moral responsibilities to society, and to the environment: making sure we understand the nature of the problem, and that our words are met with actions.

Secondly, it also means ensuring our employees are on the same journey. That means creating fulfilling job roles that don’t add to climate damage, and that we empower employees in those roles to make a difference.

And, finally, in doing so, we create an ecosystem where we continue to successfully manage – even excel at – customer expectations.

All three of these elements are key to building lasting companies.

How we get there

It sounds good. But this isn’t something we can sit and talk about ad nauseam. The situation is such that we don’t have the time to wait anymore. We need to enable, execute, and transform quickly. 

What we need to do that is, firstly,  greater accountability from companies. Businesses need to understand their impact on the environment, and, more importantly, measure it. We need to use our influence to push others around us to accelerate changes in their own businesses and become carbon neutral. 

That leads to my second point. Decisive leadership is key to making a success of equitable growth. Covid showed that while technology was important and fundamental, it was also about the inspiring leaders who brought about the changes needed. We have the power – and the responsibility – to push our companies to the changes that need to happen.

But we can’t do it alone.

Collaboration at the heart of transformation

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. The important thing is that we club together and use our collective power to actually do something. There is so much more we can hope to achieve together than acting as individuals.

One way is to join existing initiatives that are making a difference. We at ServiceNow, for example, have joined the “Business Ambition for 1.5°C” global net-zero campaign led by the SBTi, in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition, to take ambitious climate action in partnership with UN agencies, business, and industry leaders.

You may recognise it better from its ‘scopes’: Scopes 1 and 2 focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions with ambitious targets across direct operations, while Scope 3 – just as importantly – focuses on decarbonising the supply chain. Elsewhere, the initiative also aims to finance high-quality carbon offsets with verified emissions reductions.

How ServiceNow is driving change

So what is ServiceNow doing to meet these aims?

Firstly, we’re beginning to collaborate to support our suppliers on their sustainability journeys through a comprehensive supplier engagement model, which will be rolled out next year. We’re also creating tools and processes that businesses can implement to help in their own journey towards equitable growth. 

As a business, we remove the siloes both internally within enterprise organisations, and across different organisations, from logistics to supply chain. This means there is visibility and reporting of data in real-time. 

This ‘control tower’ view is vital from an ESG perspective, as it allows businesses to bring together siloed data so they can effectively measure and report on their ESG efforts, in real-time.

We’ve now brought all these benefits together in our new ESG-in-a-box solution, which is designed to help companies drive greater environmental, social, and business impact. 

Our partner and developer ecosystem will also serve as a force multiplier for our ESG solution. Leveraging the Now Platform® and ServiceNow’s low-code app development tools, our partners and customers can quickly spin up new workflows that address new and existing ESG challenges and opportunities in unique ways.

The time to act is now

The challenge ahead of us may seem daunting, but we can’t let the immensity of the climate crisis numb us into inertia. We have no alternative but to act.

We can make change happen, and we can unlock equitable growth. We have all the tools and the drive to do it. We just need to get started.

At the end of the day, the world is watching. As we’ve heard from so many of the speakers – and protesters – in Glasgow this month, if we fail to protect our planet and improve the society we live in, we can’t expect employees, customers, or society at large to exonerate us. That’s a bigger burden than any transformation initiative.

Our partner and developer ecosystem will also serve as a force multiplier for our ESG solution. Leveraging the Now Platform® and ServiceNow’s low-code app development tools, our partners and customers can quickly spin up new workflows that address new and existing ESG challenges and opportunities in unique ways.

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