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Saving sustainability from the business buzzword cauldron

By Nicola Downing, COO Ricoh Europe


Ricoh Europe, London, 28 May 2021 – It can feel like certain buzzwords and phrases will be with us forever. What I’d give to see the back of promises to ‘reach out’ and calls for ‘blue sky thinking’…

One piece of business speech that isn’t lacking in substance is ‘sustainability’. Yet it’s often a loosely used term that can bring to mind ‘greenwash’. It’s can also be used as a catch-all to show good intentions but little else. That’s why it’s essential to show measurable actions.

There’s no denying that long-term business success requires companies to re-evaluate their sustainability credentials while acting fairly and responsibly towards their customers, suppliers, local communities, and the environment. Equally inarguable is the importance of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That’s why on 1st June we’ll be kicking off our annual Global SDGs Action Month. It’s a tradition that I’m particularly proud of and one that encourages all of us, as an organisation and as individuals, to take positive action for the sake of our communities and planet. As always, our efforts will tie in with World Environment Day on 5th June to ensure a greater global impact.

It’s become increasingly clear that workers want their employers to be part of the solution when it comes to solving societal issues. In fact, our latest research reveals that 60% of European employees expect their company to act. That’s why organisations must include an Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) approach within their wider sustainability strategy. The trick is to not only reduce environmental impact but to prioritise healthier and smarter ways of working for all. Crucially, ESG targets are measurable and as such make organisations accountable for their actions.

At Ricoh Europe, we revised our 2030 global greenhouse gas reduction target from 30% to 63% compared to our 2015 baseline year. We’ve also endorsed the Business for Inclusive Growth’s (B4IG) roadmap to inclusive recovery, thus pledging to use our expertise to help bridge the digital divide by providing vulnerable communities with access to digital infrastructure, tools, training and skills. These are just two in a long list of actionable commitments.

Ensuring that your people are happy and productive is a key part of operational sustainability. We’ve recognised that this includes offering employees the option of hybrid working which in turn helps to improve staff retention, attract new talent, and motivate all workers to perform to their best. After all, a happy and inspired workforce is often one that oozes new ideas and creativity. Giving people the choice to adopt hybrid working not only makes smart business sense but helps support employees’ mental health and work-life balance.

Aside from the people element, the other key ingredient to the ‘sustainability puzzle’ lies in technology.

It’s no longer feasible from a cost or productivity perspective to maintain time and admin intensive manual processes – companies that want to secure a long-term competitive position simply must invest in the tools and technologies that make their business more sustainable. Taking action to automate time-consuming processes not only has an impact on carbon footprints, it also improves employees’ work experience, too. It gives them the headspace to focus on more cash generative and productive tasks. Our latest study found that 47% of employees feel they’d be more productive if their administrative burden wasn’t so high.

ESG targets offer a brilliant framework from which to establish long-term, sustainable, and measurable success. We’ll be celebrating this throughout June as we work harder than ever to take demonstrable action for the benefit of the planet and society. At the same time, I’ll have my ear plugs at the ready in case of requests to pluck ‘low hanging fruit’ or ‘get ducks in a row’.

|About Ricoh|

Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services, thus enabling individuals to work smarter. 

With cultivated knowledge and organizational capabilities nurtured over its 85-years history, Ricoh is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, communications services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group has major operations throughout the world and its products and services now reach customers in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2021, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,682 billion yen (approx. 15.1 billion USD).

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