What Is Sustainability? Why Should An Enterprise Architect Care?

What Is Sustainability?  Why Should An Enterprise Architect Care?

Rachelle Beltejar.jpg

Rachelle Beltejar – Enterprise Information Architect | Dell Technologies

Sustainability has transitioned from a niche to a mainstream subject, especially for publicly traded companies, over the past few years. It will drive growth and transformation, as we grapple with the realities of the world’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change, poverty, hunger, and inequality. Because sustainability is a very broad topic, I plan to share my experiences as an Enterprise Information Architect through a series of articles on this subject.

My ultimate goal is to educate and raise awareness among my fellow Enterprise Architects (EAs) about the concepts of sustainability and how we can help accelerate the journey. This is my first installment, and it aims to introduce the topic of sustainability, its meaning and relevance, and ultimately, why we should care.

So, what is sustainability?

Simply put, sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their requirements. It means using our natural resources responsibly today so they are available for generations to come. It is a societal goal, to be achieved jointly and collaboratively, to create and maintain the conditions for productive harmony between humans and nature. As mentioned in tech entrepreneur and environmental activist Adam Werbach’s book ‘Strategy for Sustainability,’ sustainability has four components, each aimed at the preservation of a particular resource:

  • Social – ensuring the well-being, cohesion, equality, and development of society with a focus on areas such as public health, education, labor, and human rights
  • Economic – how people and businesses meet their economic needs. For example, operating profitability of businesses in perpetuity
  • Environmental – protecting and restoring the ecosystem, and subjects related to the earth’s ecology such as climate change and preserving natural resources
  • Cultural – nurturing, protecting, and valuing cultural diversity and traditions

Corporate sustainability translates into a business strategy for long-term growth that focuses on ethical, social, environmental, cultural, and economic dimensions of business. It aims to engage in business practices that work in harmony with the people and the planet.

Many organizations measure themselves with sustainability metrics. This is one way to track progress in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), which cover a breadth of topics such as good health and well-being, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, work and economic growth, innovation and infrastructure, responsible consumption and production, among others.

Why should we care?

Everything we use, from water to our cell phones, comes from natural resources. Unfortunately, many resources are being consumed faster than they can be replaced. Today, we are not only experiencing the effects of climate change but also the changing consumer trends. Consumer decisions are being influenced by the environmental impact of purchased products or services. Shareholders are holding companies accountable to environmental impacts and goals. Similarly, customers are requesting innovations to support the achievement of their environmental goals.

So as EAs, especially in the midst of digital transformations, sustainability should be top-of-mind in whatever we do because technology plays a huge role in helping us accelerate the sustainability journey. Sustainability is not a buzzword. It is not only here to stay, but will endure and have generational impacts. I am hoping we will continue to act with tenacity, resolve, sense of purpose, and integrity. Meaning, doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

In the second article, I plan to cover various sustainability reporting standards and frameworks, which organizations use to share their performance and progress on a wide range of sustainability topics. Some of the most common standards and frameworks include the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.

In my third article, I will delve into the role of Enterprise Information Architects and how we can enable the sustainability journey in our organizations. This overview will consider data foundations, data stewardship and quality, and hundreds — if not thousands — of data points needed for data-driven decision-making when delivering sustainability outcomes.

Finally, I plan to share lessons learned and experiences as an EA, and how my role has contributed to my organizations’ sustainability journey.

Please stay tuned.

About the Author

Rachelle Beltejar is a strategic, results-oriented IT professional with over 20 years of progressive experience. She is currently an Enterprise Information Architect with Dell Technologies leading the Enterprise Information Management and Data Strategy initiatives for Sustainability, the Subscription business, and Product and Sales Data Subject Areas. Prior to this she has had different IT roles (Software Engineer, Consultant, Systems Analyst, Solutions Architect, Program Manager, Analytics Leader and Enterprise Architect) for Materials Science, Utilities and Consulting Companies.

Over her career she has spearheaded scalable transformation initiatives in the realm of Manufacturing 4.0, Next Generation Data Platforms, Digital Thread and Artificial Intelligence. She is passionate in leading a diverse and inclusive organization by inspiring and motivating talents so they can bring their best self to work. Rachelle has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology and an MBA from Northwood University.

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