To say that a corporate’s ESG credentials have grown in significance over recent years would be an understatement. Indeed, how a business manages, negates and reports its impact on the planet and wider society has become a key yardstick by which investors, legislators, customers and one’s own employees judge that business as a whole.
Climate, in particular, has moved to the heart of strategic decision-making for any progressive enterprise, but doing this successfully requires such considerations, efforts and competencies to be spread across the business, making them integral to one’s overarching corporate culture.
“As we grow internationally, it is more important than ever that we consider our impact on our employees, customers and the communities in which we operate,” says Uma Thomas, chief risk officer at Hexaware. “We have rolled out our ESG initiatives across various global locations and are constantly on a vigil to improve and evolve in response to changing regulations and the evolution of our business.”
These efforts have included appointing a head of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as becoming a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The company also produces an annual sustainability report that is externally assured by Price Waterhouse Chartered Accountants. The report covers materiality assessment, governance, cybersecurity and data privacy, environmental sustainability, human capital, supply chain, and quantitative data on key sustainability indicators.
Hexaware has been working with the independent ratings platform EcoVadis since 2019, providing an assessment of ESG performance. These efforts have culminated in Hexaware being recognised as a leader in ESG adoption by the Neo ESG adoption survey.
But efforts for improvement are ongoing, particularly around climate reporting and transparency. For example, the business is now looking to align its climate reporting with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.
Taking the long view on ESG
“When we say, ‘environmentally sustainable business’, it is not simply about reducing the amount of waste we produce or using less energy, but also developing processes that will lead to our business becoming completely sustainable in the future,” explains Thomas. “We are considering not only the immediate impact our actions have on the environment but also the long-term implications as well.”
As a tech company working across various geographies and industries, Thomas acknowledges that perhaps the greatest challenge in regard to managing environmental impact comes down to tracking and controlling indirect scope 3 emissions across its value chain.
“That involves the emissions of those that we operate with,” she explains. “The size of scope 3 as part of the total greenhouse gas emissions amount to more than 85%. While employee vehicle travel and office emissions are easier to track as they account for less than 10% of the GHG total, the rest is generated within the supply chain and is challenging to manage.”
Thomas and her team are introducing additional parameters for scope 3 tracking, while at the same time significantly reducing their direct carbon footprint. Engagement with external partners and SMEs is an essential part of this journey.
“Hexaware believes that the only way to achieve long-term business sustainability and growth is by developing great partnerships,” the chief risk officer explains. “We work closely with various stakeholders – customers, suppliers, communities and employees – to understand their needs, expectations, and interests while providing economic and social value.”
ESG: Gauging success
For the next-generation provider of IT, BPO and consulting services, this collaborative approach includes a focus on maximising renewable energy usage, even going so far as investing in an Indian wind farm company that powers its Chennai campus. The growing use of solar has also removed an estimated 1,787 tonnes of CO2 emissions from its Indian operations, efforts further underpinned by the installation of on-site electric vehicle (EV) charging points.
Employees are also encouraged to use shared means of transportation or bicycle to work. Single-use plastics have been removed from the workplace.
Hexaware’s Chennai and Pune campuses are now zero-water discharge facilities and 11 of the company’s sites – nine in India, one in the Philippines and another in Poland – are certified for Environmental Management System standard IS0 14001.
Hexaware is keen to publicise these ESG goals and commitments, which include achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2040, transitioning to 70% electricity usage from renewable sources by 2030, and increasing the share of female employees to 40% by 2030.
As Hexaware sets increasingly ambitious targets across environmental, social and governance, the expectation is that these efforts will not only result in a better, more sustainable company for their partners, investors and employees but also make a significant contribution to creating a better, inclusive and more sustainable world.