Every day more, the topic of the energy transition is encouraging businesses to consider how to organize their dialogue with stakeholders more effectively.

This blog will explore the importance of creating inclusive networks that foster trust environments and how scenario analyses can help address social variables when defining alternative energy pathways. Analytical tools are vital in enhancing organizational inclusion by addressing financial and societal challenges and setting sustainability outcomes.

Specifically, those tools that foster wider ranging participation earlier in decision making processes, from input gathering and data collection to the analysis, use and sharing of information, are central to laying out all possible impact scenarios for businesses and civil society in an environment of transparency.

We keep hearing it loud and clear around the globe: social innovation can aid in closing the inclusion gap and promote collaborative and impartial group communication.  Yet, fostering trust as a foundational component of corporate accountability and societal purpose is connected to the chosen business ownership model. In North America, for example, progressive models such as employee ownership trusts (EOTs) that prioritize organizational incentives and employee well-being are increasingly eyed as the organizational model of choice for smaller and mid-sized enterprises.

Outside of the wider, transparent participation in decision making and in the creation of financial wealth in the workplace, where should the dialogue around inclusivity in stakeholder networks start?

Inclusivity and business management

In social sciences and business management, inclusion is often used interchangeably with participation. Consequently, practitioners often apply exclusion criteria to determine a target population while evaluating best fit inclusion metrics, as either qualitative or quantitative targets of impact. Applied research extends this approach to inclusive networks removing the conventional practice of starting with exclusion factors and targeting outcomes. For the learning organization, inclusivity is a matter of continuous discovery. One example that comes to mind is the increasing adoption of building designs for inclusive schools and education centers to transport hubs so to define the accessibility and safety factors from the perspective of people with disabilities in a dynamic way (i.e., during the full travel into school or the workplace) as opposed to a static assessment (i.e., from the perspective of one building and only at the time of tenant occupancy). The roll-out of clean electricity infrastructure is another example of the core need to design systems according to inclusivity criteria to prevent at-risk populations from being left behind.

Why is an inclusive mindset important when designing organizational initiatives and commitments around sustainability-oriented projects?

To yield the most effective impact outcomes, scaling innovation and extending technological advances beyond traditional software design or lab-scale hardware environments is critical.  By forging use cases for technological solutions that identify outcomes far beyond the initial target population is a start. Thereby enveloping all beneficiaries of societal advancements instead of optimizing cost per user or other metrics of user-oriented domain-frequent visits to the development of green energy services will create an environment where the societal cost of decisions translate into more durable, resilient, trustworthy solutions.

Part of that journey involves developing ecosystems of developers that innovate in an open space setting, where voices and inclusion are organic outcomes.

Transparent tools to empower inclusive networks should prioritize measurable employee support for business sustainability targets. Framing “experience” metrics in building trust is key to achieving social impact.

To succeed, inclusive networks that catalyze internal efforts for impact must amplify stakeholders’ participation and create a movement with values aligned to corporate sustainability commitments.

The energy transition trend exemplifies the need for businesses to consider inclusive networks to transition their economic activities to low-carbon practices. While scientists and financiers have outlined the technical requirements for moving industrial processes from fossil fuels to renewable energy, misaligned perspectives exist on the “how to” of organizing the shift.

There are three factors to consider:

  • variables that speak of the degree of environmental justice built into solutions,
  • development of technical competencies and upskilling across various economic development communities, and
  • social policy actions to support the practical as well as the behavioral shift.

The right tools for success

Scenario analyses are powerful tools that recognize social factors in their multidimensional nature and ensure inclusivity when defining alternative energy pathways. They are useful in several ways. The ability to capture environmental and socio-economic impacts as they evolve on a timescale is core to scenario-based analyses dealing with energy transition.

Scenario analyses are also particularly useful in spurring an active, multi-stakeholder dialogue on societal shifts in the deployment and consumption of energy products.

Finally, scenarios can incorporate feedback mechanisms through participatory learning and the short-term versus long-term impact of technology adoption on socio-economic variables.

Key takeaway

The adoption of technology and the development of trust networks can help businesses better consider their impact scenarios. Through open decision-making, companies can build a transparent environment that fosters inclusivity while understanding and managing potential risks. This process is an opportunity to increase social responsibility and create more value for all stakeholders.

To learn more about building inclusive networks for trust and transparency in the organizational design of a business, you’ll want to read my book, The Impact Challenge, also available in open source.

About the Author

ALESSIA FALSARONE, SASB FSA, is a sustainable finance expert and a fellow of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program. Her work bridges the gap between sustainability, financial innovation and risk management. A sought-after commentator for media outlets and contributor to academic programs, Ms. Falsarone is a member of high-level advisory groups that promote environmental and climate finance, including the G20 Environmental Ministerial, the London Stock Exchange, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (Value Reporting Foundation) and the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. In recognition of her innovative vision for business and society, she has received an Honoree Award from the Women’s Venture Fund and the 2021 Global Leadership Award by the SheInspires Foundation in the UK.

She is an alumna of Stanford University, the MIT Sloan School of Business and Bocconi University. Ms. Falsarone holds certified director status with the National Association of Corporate Directors. An avid advocate of sustainability in business education, she has contributed to educational initiatives on the topic at the Asian University for Women, the Society of Corporate Compliance, the Swiss Sustainable Finance Initiative, the United Nations, the World Bank, Stanford University and University of Chicago, including delivering training on climate risk and green finance in Asia Pacific and Latin America.

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