While climate change is clearly a pressing issue, organisational sustainability initiatives should not overlook the need to address the human factor – particularly in a digitally transforming South Africa.

This is according to Annelee Le Grange, General Manager for HP at Axiz, who notes that recent unrest, ever-increasing unemployment and a significant digital divide are all signs that South African businesses have to focus on people as a key part of their sustainability strategies.

“As a major HP distributor in South Africa, we align wholeheartedly with HP’s focus on climate action, human rights and digital equality as three key pillars of sustainability,” Le Grange says.

HP’s Sustainable Impact Report 2020 quotes Enrique Lores, President and CEO, as saying: “At this moment in history, and from this point forward, companies will be judged by more than the profits they generate. They will be measured by the value they create for society.”

HP for the planet

HP, with the ambition of becoming the world’s most sustainable and just technology company, has a plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 2040, with a 50% reduction by the end of this decade. HP has also pledged to reach 75% circularity for products and packaging by 2030, and is committed to maintaining zero deforestation for HP paper and paper-based packaging and counteracting deforestation for non-HP paper used in its products and print services.

Examples of its commitment in action in its products are the HP Renew Series, which includes a backpack, topload, tote and slim brief made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, while the HP Renew Sleeve, a laptop sleeve, is created with recycled plastic bottles and knit to shape with minimal manufacturing waste.

HP has been phasing in recycled materials into the Elite Dragonfly – the first ultrabook to incorporate ocean-bound plastics. At CES 2020, HP announced that over 80% of the Dragonfly’s mechanical parts and 90% of the magnesium chassis are now made of recycled materials, and new HP Elite and HP Pro computers will also incorporate the new composite components.

People-focused sustainability

HP is also working to create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion while advancing human rights, social justice, and racial and gender equality across its ecosystem, as well as working to break down the digital divide.

Le Grange notes that while addressing climate change is crucial, South Africa needs to look to empowerment, people development and overcoming the digital divide with equal urgency.

“At Axiz, discussions about how we continue to keep our people safe in an unsafe world remain top of mind. This doesn’t apply only to pandemic safety measures and vaccine education, but also to how individual contribution determines future job security, while giving people an opportunity to grow and making them understand that they are included and valued.

“Axiz continues to place its employees first by creating an environment where people feel that their voices count, and that they control how they contribute to the growth of the entire business. We invest in learnerships and make it possible for people to progress across departments if they show the interest and aptitude – for example, our business model creates opportunities for warehouse staff to move into product or sales positions. We create sustainability in advancement.

“We aim to create an environment where diversity thrives, and is not just an item on a board report, so thus it is a focus area for each manager to understand where key talent resides in the business, to find out what makes them tick so that we can help make their jobs more exciting and include them in projects that challenge them and provide opportunity for growth,” Le Grange says.

Axiz also created its Asikhule forum, which is an open forum led by staff. In this forum, we pursue challenging topics across diverse platforms. It provides for frank discussions on overcoming bias, empowering women, gender equality, addressing imbalances and creating an empowered environment for employees. “For us, sustainability is not only about zero emissions, it’s also about breaking down barriers and giving people a voice,” she says.

This people-focused sustainability extends to the broader Axiz and Alviva ecosystem, with the group understanding that its people are its biggest asset, and with the drive for constant improvement and a service-driven culture, we are building a company for generations to come. “We support multiple organisations with ICT equipment, training and ongoing use, and we also equip our partners to provide sustainable solutions to their customers,” she says.

Says Le Grange: “We work with HP to create additional service components, embracing digital to empower our partners. In this way we are uplifting them to create additional value resulting in additional revenue. The digital transformation journey we take our resellers on will enable them to shift from being traditional resellers to value-based resellers, and at the same time this is enabling us to shift from being a traditional distributor to being a value-based distributor. This is also sustainability.”