Have you heard of the term 'Greenwashing?'

Last year, for Earth Day, we wrote an article all about sustainability and tech, exploring what kind of responsibility businesses have to be sustainable. 

As the term Climate Change changes to Climate Crisis, we think that this topic, more than ever, deserves some thought – especially from our perspective as a growing business using more resources than we used to. We’re in a bigger office at the Round Foundry, we have more staff,  more computer power, more meetings (therefore travel!) and more of everything, really.

What is our responsibility to the environment as a business?

We’re paperless, we use public transport when traveling for Art of Cloud whenever we can, we use our own reusable coffee cups and recycle in the office. As a new, growing business our impact is important, but nowhere near as important as a global business.

Employees are demanding ethics more than ever before.

We’re not just talking environmental ethics here – we’re talking employee rights, office culture, and diversity, too.

“Today’s prospective employee has more information than ever before, and businesses are more transparent now than they ever have been.”

Forbes

And that’s because businesses have to be transparent. With websites like Glassdoor, companies can’t really get away with the problematic office practices they used to have (as easily, anyway!). 

The workforce is now primarily new generations who are demanding ethics from their employers. A survey done by Bentley University revealed that the majority of millennials would take a paycut if it meant they could work for a company with ethics over one that didn’t. 

Is it long-term sustainability, or short-term greenwashing?

Are large businesses truly making long-term sustainable changes, or are they operating the same as they used to, just with some empty ‘green initiatives’?

“Between 2011 and 2015, the percent of Fortune 500 companies that published sustainability reports ran from 20 percent to 81 percent.”

Forbes

“We’re entering an era in which every single company has to go from self-protective, “check-the-box” compliance to a long-term focus on ethics, values and compliance.”

– Patrick Quinlan, CEO of Convercent, writing for Vox

Don't just say it, prove it.

Greenwashing is harder and harder to get away with, in this growing tech age, just because people can usually spot it a mile off. It doesn’t matter that your office is recycling if your business invests in fracking – and people can find this information out so easily, now, that it’s not worth trying to pull the wool over their eyes. 

“Trust me and show me are no longer considered good enough. There is a growing demand for businesses not only to say they are ethical, but to prove they have ethical values embedded throughout their organisation.”

– Tim Melville-Ross writing for The Guardian

So, is big business really becoming more ethical?

At Art of Cloud, we certainly think so. We have modelled our own behaviour on Salesforce who are, without a doubt, one of the most ethical tech companies out there. 

Salesforce even have a Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer, Paula Goodman, whose job it is to “develop a strategic framework for the ethical and humane use of technology across Salesforce” which is a hugely important role in these recent days of data infringement. We wonder how long it will be til most tech companies follow suit.