The importance of including the entire team in the organization's RL process

The importance of including the entire team in the organization's RL process

While Digital Corporate Responsibility (DCR ) is gradually becoming a real pillar of CSR, many organizations want to embark on a Responsible Digital (RD) approach(CSR Platform). Indeed, according to the Green IT Benchmark 2021 report, greenhouse gas emissions associated with digital office already represent 27% of the sustainable GHG package of a French person.( While GHG emissions from the digital sector are increasing by 6% per year(The Shift Project), companies are struggling to reduce their digital footprint.

There are many good practices to ensure a complete and coherent approach, but where to start and who to contact?

With Zei, we wanted to take a step back and return to the primary importance of involving all of its employees in order to ensure a coherent and complete NR approach. Indeed, as the Information System (IS) is now at the heart of the functioning of organizations, and all the members of an organization use digital technology as a work tool, a structure cannot carry out a real NR approach without involving all the employees in a NR behavior.(SPN)

A little reminder about the digital world and its footprint

As a reminder, digital technology , far from being immaterial, has significant environmental impacts - impacts mainly related to the manufacture of hardware:

  • According to the Digital Europe report, the impacts come mainly from users' equipment and not from data centers: 71% of environmental impacts come from terminals.
  • And, it is not the fact of using one's device that has the most impact, but rather the fact of manufacturing a new one: the majority of impacts occur during the manufacturing phase (54%), before the use of the equipment (44%).(

Contrary to many preconceived ideas, the major cause of the digital footprint is therefore linked to the over-manufacturing of equipment (which leads to over-consumption) and their very short lifespan(Frédéric Bordage)

Thus, it is the users and IT department (DSI) that concentrate the majority of impacts within organizations ( This is even more of an upward trend, due to the growth of new professional equipment put on the market each year (371 million in France in 2019, which represents a 50% increase compared to 2018 according toAdeme). Taking into consideration the fact that the duration of use of a computer is now 4 years, against 11 years in 1985(INR), it is clear that the growth of our IS is unsustainable.

This is why it is so important for every organization to embark on a structured NR process.

Responsible Digital Manager: one of the most sought-after positions in French companies in 2022

However, according to a study conducted by Birdeo, a recruitment firm specializing in Sustainable Development and Impact, this is precisely "THE big challenge of the coming months, increasingly emphasized by stakeholders in the sector: the urgency of integrating environmental considerations into technological innovations. This is why the NR manager is one of the Top 5 most sought-after positions in French companies for 2022.(Birdeo)

The objective of this position is to drive the IS and digital accountability process of an organization as a whole, from impact measurement to the implementation of a more virtuous digital strategy. Having a fine understanding of the footprint of the entire digital universe, of the three thirds that make it up, and across their entire lifecycle, is thus necessary in order to make the best choice of IT equipment and all the technological management thought around.

To achieve this, an educational approach is essential in order to raise awareness, educate and involve all employees.

The NR manager exists to bridge the gap between the IT department and the CSR department in order to decompartmentalize technical knowledge and skills on the one hand, and a more global and general understanding of environmental issues on the other. Indeed, "to infuse the entire organization, a responsible digital strategy must be sponsored at the highest level. It must also be embodied by a consensual and fluent IT and CSR personality."(ITforBusiness)

In order to converge the digital and environmental transitions, the NR manager works across the board and has the capacity to act on the entire organization. It is therefore a job and a mission in its own right to structure a complete and coherent NR approach.

Impact optimization: Prioritization of actions to be implemented

This being said, many companies (especially those without a NR manager) do not know where to start, or identify the main causes of this digital impact. Hence the importance of prioritizing the different actions to be implemented according to their impact capacity and ease of implementation.

Indeed, as pointed out by Bordage, a lot of figures and information circulate on digital pollution, starting with those concerning uses, victims of an over-focus.

"The media and influencers are also pushing us to sort our emails, empty our mailboxes and use so-called "green" search engines. Objectively, as the vast majority of the environmental impacts of digital technology come from manufacturing, it is not by deleting our emails or changing our search engine that we will change anything. The only two really effective approaches are to reduce our equipment and improve its lifespan."(Maddyness)

In order not to make users feel guilty and contribute to greenwashing, it is essential to put things into context and keep orders of magnitude in mind. Hence the importance of educating employees to this end.

The inclusion ofemployee education in the NR action plan is therefore crucial to a company-wide approach. This is why "employee awareness of environmental protection" is included in the Rzilient dashboard on the Zei platform. What is the purpose of this indicator? To provide employees with the keys to understanding and taking action to reduce their environmental impact in the context of their job, because the process must be carried out collectively.

Organizational and individual level: levers to combine

In order not to fall into the triangle of inaction and put the burden of guilt on the Other, it is essential to note that everyone has a role to play within an organization to reduce its digital footprint. A complete approach is composed of a strategy carried at the highest level by the management, combined with a NR behavior from each employee.

Individual actions are important and relevant in parallel with collective actions. Thomas Wagner in particular emphasizes the combination of these two levers:

"Not only are individual actions inseparable from collective actions, but they can even lead to the latter. We had seen that politicians rarely (never?) took initiatives by themselves and simply made political recuperation. This is called the social tipping point. Structural change happens because people see an interest in it or have clearly expressed it. Seeing an interest, politicians follow. Of course, this tipping point is heterogeneous. Sometimes it takes 10% of the population, sometimes only a few individuals."(Good Guy)

Similarly, within an organization, if there is a strong interest clearly expressed by the employees, the management has no choice but to follow.

It is thus essential to get everyone on board and to carry out a real NR approach to raise awareness and educate on the importance of the approach upstream, otherwise no one will act, even if an action plan is determined beforehand.

Involve all employees in the process

Now that we have set the framework around the why, comes the how. Here is an action plan as an example, using several good practices explained by the interministerial Mission Numérique éco-responsable(Minum_eco):

Governance and strategy

  • Designate an NR manager to lead the process,
  • Designate a network of referents to ensure that the approach is sustainable and that it is integrated into each team and department,
  • Formalize a charter or a manifesto to formalize the approach,

Awareness and training

  • Deploy an awareness plan to acculturate teams to RL,
  • Deploy a training plan to support the increase in NR knowledge and skills.

Integrating awareness and training on the employee experience from the onboarding stage, and on an ongoing basis, helps create a corporate culture that is conducive to continuous improvement. For example, including the NR MOOC developed by INR in the onboarding of all new employees is a good first step.(INR) At Rzilient, we have decided tooffer the NR knowledge certification to all team members.

Offering regular awareness-raising and/or team-building workshops, such as the Fresque du Numérique, or registering the company on engagement platforms, such as Vendredi, allows the approach to be sustainable, particularly thanks to the challenges offered.

In order to make learning more fun, offering an escape game such as the one developed by Escape Game en Ligne on the subject of NR is a simple and fun way to raise awareness among employees.

Events like Cyber World CleanUp Day also provide annual reminders and dedicate a day to raising awareness about the digital footprint through action.

To go further, integrating NR knowledge in a training plan is essential in order to accompany the development of NR skills of the employees. This is why we work to offer one training session per year to each team, notably thanks to theAgence Lucie or Point de M.I.R. catalogs.

At the same time, developing internal content, such as booklets, guides or checklists of good practices, allows employees to appropriate the key figures, information to remember and good actions to implement. In this regard, Zei creates a fun poster each month on a CSR or impact theme to raise awareness of eco-actions in the workplace and thus accelerate awareness. You can download their free poster on good digital habits here.

Finally, promoting in-house footprint measurement tools, such as the Calcul de mon impact environnemental pro developed byINR x Décathlon or Nos Gestes Climat(Datagir), makes it possible to monitor one's impact over time and measure its evolution.


In order to launch a complete and coherent RL approach, it is important tocombine the top-down approach, i.e. the impulse of the management, with a bottom-up approach, via the direct request and involvement of each employee in the approach. This requires a strategy and governance thought out accordingly thanks to a determined action plan, supported by the management and involving all the internal teams.

First, raising awareness and educating all employees about the sources of digital pollution and their individual footprint is essential to understand the importance of the approach and create momentum and motivation internally. Then, integrating continuous learning into the employee experience helps create a corporate culture that is conducive to continuous improvement.

Written by

Audrey Pogu

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