VENDORiQ: Greenwashing Concerns… Here We Go Again

The Latest

12 April 2022: IT consulting firm, Atos, has partnered with low-code enterprise software developer Mendix to expand the former’s low-code application service offerings. According to the press release, the collaboration will also enable Atos to promote its commitment to lowering enterprises’ carbon footprints through digital modernisation tools.

Why it’s Important

Atos’s partnership with Mendix is one of the many collaborations between tech consulting firms and vendors that were forged to respond to the surge in demand for low-code solutions. IBRS has observed that major service partners are increasingly using low-code tools to deliver results more quickly, while simultaneously opening up new opportunities for other more sophisticated and profitable IT projects. 

This is a result of the growing market for low-code being a fundamental component of Fourth Wave ICT (or the low-code everything era), and the benefits of adopting such a culture for many organisations as discussed in our Special Report

In addition, many vendors are touting their sustainability credentials: all the hyperscale Cloud vendors and many of the major SaaS vendors all now report their progress towards zero or negative carbon footprints.

However, IBRS has previously pointed out that technology vendors with no credible approach to transparency are highly likely to leverage energy and carbon efficiencies to promote themselves, but diverge towards greenwashing – claiming benefits for the climate but without actually changing anything. 

Unfortunately, the agreement between Atos and Mendix appears to be no exception. By claiming that organisations can build applications to assist with decarbonisation, it does not necessarily translate for Mendix or Atos (or for any low-code for that matter) to produce viable carbon emissions reductions. This is because emission reductions are attributed solely to organisations that are actively involved in energy consumption or those that have a carbon footprint. For a software developer to overstate such claims, it is at best double-counting, and at worst blatantly committing cynical greenwashing.

Vendors will stretch their claims regarding sustainability, especially how products can impact carbon footprints. Without clear accountability and metrics, this is often little more than posturing. 

As more consumers are becoming aware of corporate disinformation, enterprise compliance on emission reduction claims in procurement policies for technologies needs to conform to proper sustainability reporting such as the Global Reporting Initiative Standards while incorporating the Oxford Offsetting Principles. Greenwashing will backfire. Proper reporting must include demonstrating a real and measurable commitment to contributing to environmental campaigns.

Who’s impacted

  • CEO
  • Procurement teams
  • IT teams

What’s Next?

  • Familiarise the concepts of allocating and reporting on carbon emissions within your industry. Include what standards exist, and which are likely to be mandated by regulatory institutions in the coming four to five years. 
  • Apply reporting standards to hold vendors accountable when claiming decarbonisation and emissions reductions. 
  • Prevent greenwashing from detracting from the very real business benefits of reducing carbon emissions, such as reduced costs, adoption of elastic ICT provisioning where needed, and meeting staff and public expectations. 
  • Ensure there is transparency in every claim by demonstrating how such green declarations were achieved through reliable accounting methods that gauge emission reductions more accurately.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Considerations for Selecting Modern Low-Code Platforms

  2. Think green IT: Think saving money

  3. Greening your ICT purchases

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