Easy Agile Podcast Ep.15 The Role of Business in Supporting Sustainability Initiatives with TietoEVRY

Beck Griffith

by Beck Griffith, Team Assistant

12 Jan 2022

Business Sustainability with TietoEVRY

Rebecca Griffith

"It was amazing to have the opportunity to talk with Ida and Ulrika about what the team are up to at TietoEVRY, they are truly leading the way in sustainability" - Rebecca Griffith

Rebecca and Caitlin are talking with Ida and Ulrika from TietoEVRY, about big picture sustainability and the role of business in supporting sustainability initiatives.

🌍 Implementing sustainability in daily business operations
🌍 The role of technology in advancing sustainability
🌍 Ensuring your sustainability & DEI report doesn't turn into a stagnant document
🌍 Framing challenge in a way of opportunity
🌍 Getting the whole team on board

An important listen for everyone, enjoy!

📲 Subscribe/Listen on your favourite podcasting app.

Transcript

Caitlin Mackie:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Easy Agile Podcast. I'm Caitlin, marketing coordinator at Easy Agile.

Rebecca Griffith:

And I'm Beck, team and operations assistant at Easy Agile, and we'll be your host for this episode. Before we begin, we'd like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land from which we broadcast today, the worthy, worthy people of the Tharawal nation and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. We extend that same respect to all aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people joining us today.

Caitlin Mackie:

Today, we're joined by Ida and Ulrika from TietoEVRY. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Thank you so much for having us.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Thank you.

Rebecca Griffith:

It would be great if we could start with some introductions. Ida and Ulrika, could you tell our listeners a bit about yourselves and your role at TietoEVRY?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yes, of course. I'm Ida and I'm heading up the sustainability team at TietoEVRY since four years back. And Ulrika?

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah. I work within the sustainability team as a sustainability manager also here at TietoEVRY.

Rebecca Griffith:

Excellent. Thank you. Thanks for the introductions. Let's jump in. For our listeners who might not be familiar with TietoEVRY, can you give us a bit of an overview about what the company does?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yes. Sure. We are a company based in the Nordics, like very, very far away from sunny Australia. We are a tech company. We provide different solutions. For instance, in software, cloud and infra and also business consulting. I think nowadays, we are the biggest tech provider in the Nordic, at least.

Caitlin Mackie:

Sustainability is a huge part of TietoEVRY. You really have a robust sustainability game plan and your strategy for 2023, which highlights your key priorities for ethical conduct, climate actions and creating an exciting place to work for your employees. Can you elaborate on the sustainability game plan for 2023?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yeah, we would love to. The sustainability game plan is our long term plan that we created last year. We were actually two companies merging into one last year. We had different legacies. X Tieto were good at some things and X EVRY were good at some things, but of course, we had lots of challenges too. We had to sit down and really try to find out what should be our focus going forward and not only actually to build upon what we already have, but also look at the major challenges out there to see like, where do we want to be and what role do we want to have? We created a game plan that is two-folded. We have like the responsible operations that is the traditional sustainability work that you would find at any organization that takes sustainability seriously.

We have the ethical conduct where we have business, ethics, and the corruption, cyber security, privacy, human rights, responsible sourcing, for instance. Then, we have exciting place to work, which is more like HR related because we're people companies, we have to be very good at this in order to attract the right talent and also to keep the talent that we have. We have major challenges when it comes to bringing in and keeping women in our sector, for instance, so we have to be very good at diversity and inclusion and also employee experience, of course, to make this a fun place to work at. Then, of course, climate action may be the one thing that people think about most when they think about sustainability due to the emerging climate crisis. We work a lot with that, of course, and also circular economy and our take on that.

That is like the foundation for us that we have to be very good at like our license to operate, and we work throughout the value chain with these topics, but then because we are a tech company, we also wanted to see what can we do to not only improve our own sustainability performance, but foremost our customers? What's due, I think, and what really stands out for TietoEVRY now is that we have this really, really strong business focus going forward for this sustainability game plan. I was thinking maybe Ulrika could take over and explain and elaborate a little bit about the upper half of the circle.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah, exactly. What we identified when we were developing this strategy or long term plan was that some of our biggest impacts also actually resides among our customers. We have a lot of capabilities and we have a lot of customers, so why not combine those and see where do we have the biggest opportunity in terms of actually helping our customers to become more sustainable? We developed a methodology where we investigated our capabilities, our customer pain points, our customer opportunities and landed in four broad impact opportunities. That's where we have business opportunities in making our customers sustainable. Those are new focus areas within our sustainability long term plan, where we engage with our own business to drive these areas and develop together with our customers to create positive impact on people, planet and societies.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

I think also if I may add to that, Ulrika, so we set the plan to do that, and we had of course, a lot to build upon. We had lots of good reference cases, but of course, we needed to pin it down to get the buy-in from management. Also, of course, get the resourcing. We started with identifying those areas where we think that other people have, or other customers or stakeholders have impact opportunities, which means a business opportunity for us. We must not forget that, but in order to actually deliver in a good way and at the speed that our customers require, we also had to create a consultancy team that could help in the delivery organization because the customer requirements become... The pressure was so high.

For our little team group sustainability, we couldn't really handle everything, so we created something that we call the sustainability hit team, which is a consulting team consisting of consultants that knows data and sustainability within business consulting. Ulrika, you have been given also... You have the role of leading this group, perhaps you would like to say something more about that group?

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Well, this is a group of people that, just as Ida said, they have this kind of expertise, combining sustainability knowledge with IT and technology. We work together to identify both ongoing projects that might be related to sustainability in one way or the other that we perhaps can scale and create synergies, but we also work to identify new opportunities, having our ears towards the ground and listening into what do the customers actually want to have. Then, we take in these opportunities and try to see how we can develop them to actually support our customers. Hopefully, this team will just continue to grow and us with our other efforts, become very integrated in all our business operations. That is at least our aim, so the responsibility lies where the responsibility is sort to say.

Rebecca Griffith:

That's wonderful. Now, I think you've kind of touched on this in a broader sense, but in the TietoEVRY annual report, you talk about implementation of sustainability into daily business operations. What are some other key ways that you're doing this?

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah. If I can start, Ida?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Sure.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

I think one of the most important things is to involve everyone from the beginning in what we actually should focus on and what are the most important topics in terms of sustainability, both for all our stakeholders, but also for our business, so that we actually give the ownership of sustainability to the organization. Not so that they feel it comes from the side or from above, but it's actually something that is relevant and that the organization owns. That means that each and everyone has the responsibility to also contribute to our joint targets that we also have involved the different business leaders and parts of the organization in setting. I think that ownership is a keyword here to actually enable integration of sustainability in the operations. Ida, do you agree?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yeah. No, but the group sustainability, our group, we are a small team consisting of specialists with long experience, but we are only so many, so we have to have a very integrated way of working in order to make this fly. What we've been focusing on a lot since many years back is to get it integrated. For instance, if we look at responsible sourcing, which is crucial how we handle our supply chain. We work closely together with a chief procurement officer. The sustainability goals that we have that are public and that we disclose every year in our annual report is just as much his goals as it is our goals, so we really get some power behind driving it and we get the results that we need in order to move forward. That is one thing. Then, as Ulrika explained earlier in the last question about the sustainability hit team, how we also now have taken this step further to really approach the business in a more structured way that we have done before. As I said, we had very good reference cases and we have a portfolio of sustainability related services, but now we're doing this in a much more structured manner because of the market, the demands that has increased so much.

Caitlin Mackie:

Yeah. That's great. I think what you mentioned, having that structure helps with that company buy in and getting everybody on board and realizing that it's everybody's commitment and it's like a journey you're all on together. Yeah. I think that's great. Something that's often talked about is the overlap between business and sustainability and the role of the business in addressing some of the major challenges we face as a society. I think so many look to clearly distinguish their responsibility and draw a line somewhere, but I'm not so sure that's the right approach. TietoEVRY certainly recognizes they have an important role to play and really pave the way towards carbon neutrality. What's your approach to this?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Okay. First of all, I think there must be an overlap or there must be like, if you are a company like we are, we cannot do things that we don't think also is good for us, like financially long term. That is the beauty of sustainability. If you have good and long term targets, it's also support the growth of the company in financial terms, so we always have both those perspectives in mind, creating strategies going forward. For us, we work both for our own operations when it comes to climate change to decrease our carbon footprint, obviously, so we are changing. We have renewable energy in all our data centers and offices. We are now currently at 80% and approaching 100. It's going to be difficult. The last percent is always the most difficult ones, but we have a good development as for now.Then, of course, we work super hard because this is the, I think number one question that our customers is asking for, ways to manage their own carbon footprints. Here we are strong in data, of course. Do you want to add something around that?

Caitlin Mackie:

No, but I think that the first reflection that you had that we have this financial perspective also when developing the sustainability plan, it's important because I think that what we see is that... Our business is doing business. Yes, of course. But if you don't do it right, there will be no business on a dead planet, right? So that you have to have the long term perspective where you take into account all the different aspects. It's not only the financial, because they're also interlinked. I think that also the risks that are connected to, for example, climate change for business operations, so the inbound risks that the surrounding is posing to us are becoming more and more clear. I think that it's also becoming evident that if you don't have sustainability integrated in your operations, you will no longer have a license to operate in 2021 and beyond. I think it's just a smarter way of doing business, to be honest.

Rebecca Griffith:

We can all acknowledge that climate action is one of the biggest global challenges for our generation. In recognizing that this is one of your key priorities to address, how do we take these challenges and frame them in a way of opportunity?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Well, this is the beauty of being a tech company. We have the luxury of not having lots of goods that we need to take care of cotton or food or so, so we can go straight to the point, I think, and start to listen to what our customers need and create services and solutions that support them in their journey to decrease their carbon footprint. It sounds very easy when I say it like this. It's not that easy, of course. It requires a lot of hard work and everything, but that's what we should do. I think that when you look at the crisis that is emerging, the tech industry is also seen by the other industries as the great enablers. I think that we have a key role to play. I think that we have a responsibility to our stakeholders to be there and to be in the forefront.

I think that's what we've been doing. For instance, for the last year, the guest team has been working on a very interesting solution called the sustainability hub, which actually addresses this spot on. Would you like to...

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I totally agree with you, Ida. The tech industry, it's really an enabler and that also means that there's a lot of business opportunities. As you said, the sustainability data hub voice, one of our responses to these kind of business opportunities that we see out there, so what happened was that we were sitting and discussing and realized that one of the biggest obstacles for companies to actually integrate sustainability into decision making, into risk management analysis, et cetera, is the lack of data as you have now produced your own ability report, the big hurdles that comes with actually collecting the data for that report, it sits in shattered data sources.

The collection is often manual. The data might not be in the right shape. Most companies actually collect the non-financial data once a year for their annual sustainability report. That means that when you have that data, you are actually steering through the rear view mirror because you are not steering proactively by taking fresh data into account when you take your decisions or plan your operations. What we did was that we started to develop a solutions, which builds on automating the data collection of sustainability data by helping customers to identify where does the data sit? How can we actually automate it? Is it via automation, via IoT solution? Who will use the data? Which KPIs and metrics do we want to map it against? How often do we want the data to be updated? Then, visualize it in real time? A modern way of an ERP system for ESG data, you could say, so that it is actually possible to equate non-financial inform and with financial information.

That should give the opportunity for companies to treat the data in the same manner and actually integrate sustainability into the decisions that they take. For example, let's think about the impact of us going from working at the offices to now working hybrid. What are the actual impacts? Can we see that the sick leave has increased or decreased? How has the carbon emission been impacted by us not traveling back and forth to the offices? If we have that data, we could also use that to decide whether we should continue with hybrid working, or if we should force our employees to come back to the office, or if everybody should be working from home. If you can get hand of that collective view of the activities that you take, you could also make more holistic and informed decisions. That's one response kind of how we try to treat sustainability as a business opportunity and identify which are the pain points that our customers have in terms of co-creating a sustainable future, and where can we tap in into that? That is the kind of beauty, as you said, our industry.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

It is.

Rebecca Griffith:

Really interesting looking at it in real time, as you said, as opposed to a retrospective assessment of the data, which really, you can't change.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Exactly. Yeah.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yeah.

Rebecca Griffith:

What's the point in waiting another 12 months to then look at it again when you have completely done [crosstalk 00:18:32]?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yeah. Both sustainability.... Yeah. Sorry. Both sustainability and tech is moving extremely fast. I think we need to work like this. I think customers are going to require... We see more and more before they wanted us to report once a year, but now so many of our customers, they want us to report different types of data related to the solutions or our delivery to them on a quarter basis. The more we can have real time data, I think it's going to be the new normal very soon.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Me too. That will be a huge game changer for companies. When the data is there, you can get it black on white. There is no excuse for taking bad decisions, right?

Caitlin Mackie:

Yeah. Yeah.

Rebecca Griffith:

Quite exciting.

Caitlin Mackie:

Exactly. I don't know about you, Beck, but I'm definitely sitting here being like, "Wow," at all, like this would've been super handy 12 months ago.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

It's out there. Yeah.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

It's on the market, so you're more than welcome.

Caitlin Mackie:

All right.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

I think that's also typical from sustainability that you have to understand that the solutions to all of these kind of complex problems, they can't be solved by any actor. We need to work in ecosystems and everybody will have to bring their expertise to the table. Then, we can get things to actually be solved. I hope that that logic will also impact other areas so that we more try to cooperate instead of having the cake ourselves, because then there will be no cake left over. That would be sad.

Caitlin Mackie:

It's so, so refreshing to hear you say that. I think for so long businesses have always had this idea about, "Oh, competition," and like, "Keep what's yours. Keep it to yourself. We're going to succeed in this area." But moving into this space, it's just not about that anymore. It's about how we can collaborate together to reach those solutions. I think that's so powerful.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

For sure. No. Sustainability is horizontal work. As an organization, as an entity, as a company, we are not stronger than our closest stakeholders anyway. Our performance is very much reliant on their performance.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

I think it's so interesting also because since we come from that kind of background, Ida and I also always working across all silos, across all kind of company functions. We also get a special role in our company because we don't have the legacy of working in silos, so we just totally break them all the time because we're not aware of them. That's just what is needed to be able to get the job done. I think that it's really interesting to see how the organization actually appreciates that.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yes. Sometimes, they don't.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Sometimes, they don't. Exactly. Sometimes, they don't. Yeah. That's true. Yeah.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

But we have our battles internally. If you're a sustainability professional working in a big organization, you must be very prepared to have those tougher discussions as well, but we all get there, not always on time from our perspective, but that's the way it has to be. Fearless and just...

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Stubborn.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Stubborn, and don't be too bothered about silos or hierarchies or so, because then you will never get anything done.

Caitlin Mackie:

I wanted to highlight or expand on the idea of opportunity and the fact that we constantly need to be exploring new and better ways of doing things so that we can move forward. It would be great to get your thoughts on the role of technology in advancing sustainability. I know you've touched on it, but it'd be great to elaborate.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

If I start, then you can build on it.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Sure.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

I think that some of the business opportunities or the solutions that we can develop are cross industrial. For example, the need for data and the need to get hold of it and to visualize it and to be able to act on it, is of course, something that all companies in all industries could make use of. But then, I think that for many solution, they are industry specific. For example, logistic. They need certain solutions to be able to optimize their logistic, their rooting, or to better pack their lorries and trains, et cetera. But I think that... There are both this industry specific solution and this cross sectional business opportunities stuff that you have, and also one of the hidden gems within the IT sector is the side effects of digitalizing services or solutions.

It's also important to understand that even though a solution might not be developed and deployed for the use of mitigating or climate change, for example, the actual impact of its implementation might lead to less carbon emission. Let's think about we have a solution that is called patient engagement. It means that you could engage with your doctors and nurses over your phone, which means that you don't have to take the public transportation or your own car to the hospital or to the medical clinic, which of course saves that transportation and in turn, saves carbon emissions if you travel with something except for an electric car. Many of the digital solutions actually have that positive hand print impact or effect, I would say. Of course, the opportunity of expanding on those is also massive and to identify them, perhaps it's the possibility. If you have a patient engagement app, could you use it for other purposes for other users to increase the impact.

Rebecca Griffith:

At Easy Agile, one of our goals was to establish a baseline and publish our very first sustainability and diversity report, which I believe we've shared with you. We'll also share that report as well as the TietoEVRY annual report in the show notes for our listeners. But what advice would you give to organizations to ensure that these kind of documents don't turn into a stagnant document or a mere check of the box exercise? How do we use these reports to encourage conversation and continually seek ways to improve?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Okay. I get so many thoughts now. First of all, keep up with an upcoming frameworks. Don't get stuck in all the good old GRI for instance. In the European Union, so we are now approaching the taxonomy reporting or TCFD or so on. Go for those new ones. Also, of course, everybody has to do the ground work. You have to do your stakeholder engagement, the dialogues, the materiality analysis in order to know that you focus on the right things and so on, and you have to have really concrete goals and action plans and KPIs and everything, so you can measure your performance against the goals that ultimately what sustainability reporting is about. But then, I think the opportunity with reporting, because reporting can be a little bit boring too, in a sense, and it can feel stagnant in a way. It is that it's such an important tool in the strategy work.

This is where you get the attention from the leaders like, "What goals are we going to have and how did we do and so on?" That's where you can have the good discussions or you can also raise the ambition level as you go along. That I think is really crucial. Use it as a strategy tool as well, and then never get stuck in like, "Oh, yeah. It's good. We met our targets. We moved 3% forward or whatever." Don't think so much about that. Think about lie what are the major challenges right now? What is your role as an organization? No matter what organization you are, find your way to be part of the solution instead. We have that discussion sometimes internally. People are like, "Oh, but you're doing so good. You have a good results and so on."

But for me and Ulrika and our sustainability professionals, we're like, "Yeah. Okay. We move forward. That's good." But from a greater perspective where we are reaching the tipping point for the planet, so we feel other pressure in order to move forward faster. Don't end up in like, "Yeah. We move forward. We're keeping the pace." Full on power ahead, and speed is of essence going forward. 

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

Yeah. No, I fully agree. I think that's really good reflections to hook the sustainability reporting up on the challenges to understand. What are the purposes? What are we actually trying to achieve by this report? We are trying to contribute to minimize the negative impact and to increase the positive impact, and the sustainability report is a tool for that. I think another thing that is really important is to actually also engage with the organization to get them define their own targets and their own metrics to report on, so that they feel ownership. For some of the areas that we have in our sustainability report, when we have an engaged partner within the organization that themselves have ideas on targets, we develop their own KPIs.

They feel that, "I really believe in this. I want to work with this." Then, the follow up and the continuous reporting is much easier than while we have perhaps other parts of the organization where there isn't so much clear targets internally, so that the sustainability report is more felt like something that is done on an annual basis just collecting the data, but not making use of it actually. Just create that commitment and build on the company's own targets and own KPIs that are useful. Then, of course, sometimes if you do report according to a sustainability framework such as the GRI standards, which is commonly used in Europe, then you, of course, need to report according to some of the metrics in that standard, but then add your own key guides, your own metrics, because that will make the organization feel engaged, I could say.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yeah. Yeah. Basically to summarize that, so three things, do the groundwork according to the upcoming and fresh frameworks, and then two, use it as a strategic tool to have those important discussions with management and make it a part of the overall strategy, so you don't end up with the sustainability strategy and an overall strategy. Then, three, be bold. Look at the challenges and not only what's doable or keeping the trend or whatever. Those three things, I think is important to have in mind.

Rebecca Griffith:

Spot on.

Caitlin Mackie:

Yeah. I love that. I think that's great advice, especially the idea of you're mapping out what you're doing internally and what that looks like, but being able to take that step back and say, "Okay. But what does this contribute to in the big picture? What are we actually helping and what are we doing to move in the right direction?" Something that I often think about is things like the UN sustainable development goals and looking at those and being like, "Well, what can we do to of map where we are at and where can we offer? What can we be doing in this space that helps reach those targets?" Yeah. Great advice. I love it. But I think just to wrap us up, our last question for both of you is looking forward, what keeps you hopeful?

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

It keeps me hopeful. Well...

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

For me, I think the younger generation, to be honest. I think that seeing my brothers' daughters that are teenagers, or to see [inaudible 00:31:19] and the commitment that she's able to steer up, I think that gives me hope that things will move faster in the future. I think that's positive.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Yeah. I also second that. I think I visited the school last week with students like 18, 19 years old, and I've been doing that every year for a couple of years now and I always ask them, "What do you know about sustainable? What do you think about it?" Before, it was like, "Yeah. The environment or recycling maybe," but now they were like, "Yeah. The UN SDGs..." So the level of knowledge has increased so much. There is huge interest and when I gave them, "What can you do on a practical level if you want to live a more sustainable life?" They were like, "Yeah. Don't buy a new party cup for the Friday night. Borrow from your friends, or there are these sites. I can text you these sites where you can borrow dresses and stuff like that." They are doing it in real life in such a good way where they combine technology and sustainability, so they're much more tech savvy than we are. I was very inspired by that.

Ulrika Lagerqvist Von Unge:

They're also willing to actually sacrifice stuff. It's like, "No, we don't fly. We don't do this because we would like to have a future to live in." I think that that is something which we are so comfortable and so used to having a certain lifestyle, but they are perhaps not and they are challenging that lifestyle that we have been having, which has also led to where we are today.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

I think also to add to that, I think that finally the leaders of our countries are getting it, at least getting close to getting it. I think things are changing, so that's good, but my hope stands to the young ones still.

Rebecca Griffith:

It's nice to feel that it's becoming a normal part of consciousness for the newer generations where it's something that we had to learn to appreciate and respect and to take action on, but it seems to be a part of their upbringing and a way of life now, which is great.

Caitlin Mackie:

Well, I think that's great. I think it's great to leave the episode on such a high and leave the audience with a bit of inspiration moving forward. Thank you both for taking the time to chat with us and sharing your expertise with the Easy Agile audience.

Ida Bohman Steenberg:

Thank you so much for having us. It was fun to talk to you, and it's nice also to talk about the perspectives from the Nordics and from the tech industry. Thank you very much.

Rebecca Griffith:

Thank you.

Easy Agile Podcast Ep.15 The Role of Business in Supporting Sustainability Initiatives with TietoEVRY

JUMP TO

Subscribe to our blog