Being a responsible business is at the core of what we do
- Posted on June 29, 2023
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
What does it mean to be a responsible business? If you find yourself asking yourself that question, you’re not alone. We can easily imagine what it takes to be a responsible friend, or parent, or citizen – after all, responsibility is one of the core pillars of human character. But the idea may feel harder to envision for an entire organization, even as social responsibility takes on an increasingly vital role in corporate governance.
Here at Avanade, the answer is baked into our purpose: To make a genuine human impact for our people, clients and communities. As a leading tech provider, we’re on a mission to advance the world responsibly through the power of people and Microsoft. It’s a broad vision, covering everything from environmental sustainability to pioneering new, trustworthy approaches to emerging technologies like AI and the metaverse.
Leading with purpose is key to establishing and building trust, and the acceleration of generative AI has only highlighted how critical this is. To truly make the most of the technology, we must hold firm to our commitment as a responsible business and mitigate risks in areas like ethics, bias and transparency. To maintain trust, we hold ourselves accountable with trackable goals covering environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, making a tangible effort to ensure our business is sustainable for the long term.
How do we achieve these goals?
Simply put, we do what matters. And for us, that means starting with a people-first approach.
Being responsible for our people
Doing the work of a responsible business starts from within, which is why we place a careful emphasis on empowering our people with an inclusive, supportive environment. Our goal is to create a workplace where everyone can go beyond and achieve the full scope of their potential, whether that means taking advantage of flexible working hours and arrangements, progressing their career with a new role or joining an employee network to help elevate the voices of underrepresented communities.
This message has resonated with our people, who strive to help shape a brighter, more sustainable future every day. People want to work for a company that matters and makes a difference, both in the work we do for our clients and also through our corporate citizenship efforts. For example, we offer eight hours of paid volunteer time annually to encourage people to explore the causes that inspire them outside of work. I personally spent a recent Friday volunteering at a fundraising event for the Bardo Foundation, a non-profit devoted to helping children and families affected by Osteosarcoma. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Avanade employees recorded more than 15,000 volunteer hours helping to make a difference in their communities. That effort has continued apace, with 24,000 volunteer hours logged over the course of the last financial year. The results are clear – when you invest in your people, they’re equally prepared to invest in the world around them.
Being responsible for our clients
We know our clients are more committed than ever to making environmental sustainability a priority for their business, and with the power of Microsoft behind us, we’re delivering solutions to help clients take measurable action when it comes to shaping a greener future. We work with our clients to create specialized approaches for tracking and reporting emissions reductions, harnessing technology to make real strides in reducing their carbon footprint while tackling other key issues of environmental sustainability. We’re also a founding partner and steering committee member of the Green Software Foundation, a collection of organizations dedicated to cutting carbon emissions related to software.
But sustainability isn’t limited to doing what matters for the environment. With every client we focus on the human impact of our work. Recently there’s been a great deal of conversation about technologies like ChatGPT and other forms of generative AI, innovations that are exciting and daunting in equal turns. We know it will be crucial for our clients to establish trust with their customers and prove how these technologies can drive growth for everyone, which is why we’re focused on developing ways to ethically use data, AI and automation in business.
Being responsible for our communities
No organization exists in a vacuum. In a world challenged by climate change, war, an unstable economy and the lingering aftereffects of a global pandemic, it’s not enough to do good for your clients – you have to do good for your community, too.
We strive to be an active participant in our communities, helping effect real change for the people who live there. Part of making a genuine human impact means fostering the next generation of leaders, providing new opportunities to the youth who will shape the future of business and technology through programs like our Avanade STEM Scholarship Program – which funds scholarships for young women across the world – or our partnership with the entrepreneurial education programs sponsored by Junior Achievement (JA). Similarly, we work with partner organizations to create new opportunities for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, and regularly deploy our specialists to offer support to the social sector on a voluntary basis.
Measurable indicators of success are vital for advancement, and we’re currently in the process of setting ambitious goals to fulfill our ESG commitments by 2025. But when it comes to being a responsible business, there’s no fixed target for success. The path is always shifting, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to innovate along the way.
This is the first of a blog series to dive into all the ways organizations uphold their commitment as a responsible business, and I’m honored to kick us off.
Stay tuned for future entries – next month, we’ll be hearing from Florin Rotar on how to be responsible in the age of generative AI.