Part two: Changing Buyer Priorities - Sustainable Practices

As the price of electricity, petrol and general inflation rockets more businesses are looking at their sustainability practices. And this is being driven by multiple stakeholders, primarily customers and regulation.

Kristal Jamieson, Founder of One Little Seed

Here in Australia, the impact of climate change has been felt more severely than ever before. You only need to say 'iceberg lettuce' and people's eyebrows raise in unspoken agreement.

ESG is now commonly bandied about as driving business priorities. But what does ESG mean?

According to Deloitte, 98% of consumers believe that brands have a responsibility to make the world better'.

McKinsey defines it as:

The E in ESG, environmental criteria, includes the energy your company takes in and the waste it discharges, the resources it needs, and the consequences for living beings as a result. Not least, E encompasses carbon emissions and climate change. Every company uses energy and resources; every company affects, and is affected by, the environment.

S, social criteria, addresses the relationships your company has and the reputation it fosters with people and institutions in the communities where you do business. S includes labour relations and diversity and inclusion. Every company operates within a broader, diverse society.

G, governance, is the internal system of practices, controls, and procedures your company adopts in order to govern itself, make effective decisions, comply with the law, and meet the needs of external stakeholders. Every company, which is itself a legal creation, requires governance.

ESG in actual fact stems a lot further than just sustainability. However, given that it's not my (or our) area of expertise, I'm not going to delve into the governance side of ESG.

From the same WSJ report referenced in part one, 63% of customers are driving increased business sustainability investment. For many years we saw businesses such as Evian, Gatorade, Mt Franklin pay for the right for their water bottles to be front and centre at tennis grand slams. With the French government banning the distribution of free plastic bottles, Perrier (the drinks sponsor for the French Open) had to provide players with reusable, transparent containers. No longer were there the fridges full of water bottles courtside. It also meant that players could bring their own unbranded drink bottles on court. This changes the brand presence and the value given to consumers through these types of sponsorships.

when 44% of Millennials are the primary decision-makers in today's buying economy, they can't be ignored

According to Deloitte, 98% of consumers believe that brands have a responsibility to make the world better'. They state that the CIO has three areas of opportunity when it comes to being a leader in the sustainability agenda:

  • implementing a holistic, integrated data and insights program to measure and drive environmental sustainability
  • leveraging a sustainability-driven tech strategy, and
  • driving transparency and accountability in the value chain.

The use of data and analytics to make decisions relating to sustainability is at the forefront of the CXO agenda. Back to the WSJ report, 73% of CXOs believe it's possible to use new technology competitively whilst minimising the organisation's carbon footprint. This shows that sustainability is really starting to gain traction within the decision-makers' priorities, matching the ask from the customer.

It's also important to consider the fact that the loudest advocates for the environment and sustainability are the 'younger' generation. Greta Thunberg is probably the most visible globally, but when 44% of Millennials are the primary decision-makers in today's buying economy, they can't be ignored.

Who's already doing sustainable stuff?

Within our industry, VMware's vision is that by 2030 all VMware clouds will be Zero Carbon through 100% renewable energy-powered data centres. They provide their partners with a free 6-month trial of Clean Energy Buyers Association.

NEXTDC is 100% carbon neutral, and across their datacentres, they've invested heavily in solar. They're certified under the Australian Government Climate Active Program. In 2021 they also launched NEXTneutral which allows their customers to offset the carbon emissions for all their equipment and environs located in their data centres.

HPE identified opportunities to procure sustainable materials and components, reducing material waste in their supply chain. HPE examined more than 3 million assets in its supply chain and was able to remarket or reuse 90% of them.

How do you integrate ESG into your marketing message?

You can start small. We've done this a couple of times this year with our customers, offering delegates at events the opportunity to plant a tree instead of collecting a piece of merchandise.

Think about your corporate gifting policy in general, and who you use for disbursement. The sea of bubble wrap and plastic courier bags are small but visible touch points that can be recyclable. Personally, the compostable courier bags are now saved and used in our countertop compost bin.

As for social responsibility, this comes from within. From within the leadership, from within your employees, and your clients. One Little Seed has a no dickheads policy (HR keeps telling me I can't say this in public), and we encourage discussion when we think people are getting close to that line. I've built this business to support my trusted employees to do their job as they see fit, and when it suits them as long as our clients are supported in the way they need to be. Sustainability is also about the human heart and the mental tank. They need to stay just as balanced as the business balance sheet.

You can look to partner with a local organisation that resonates with your business brand, or simply your employee's situation. One Little Seed has donated to causes that support MS because of personal connections within our business to people with the disease. I'm still trying to figure out where else we can contribute, and like most things in a start-up business, I'm not afraid to admit that it's a work in progress.

You only need to scroll LinkedIn to see other organisations doing great things with ocean clean-up days and participating in sustainable activities. This week alone, I've seen Slalom employees plant 600+ trees to support the koala ecosystem, and The Missing Link grow mullets for Mental Health.

There is the ISO4001 sustainability certification for those who want to go to the wall.

So in summary, sustainability, whether it's environmental or societal needs to be an important factor in your business mix. To use a phrase you might have seen around here before. Start little, think big.


  • Global Software Trends and Buyer Behavior Insights 2022
  • McKinsey - Five ways that ESG creates value
  • WSJ 2022 CXO Tech Agenda
  • Deloitte:
  • Forbes: