These days the tenth edition of the Salone della CSR e dell’Innovazione Sociale, the main event dedicated to the theme of sustainability in Italy, is being held. While scrolling through the programme, I was intrigued by the presentation of the book ‘Sustainability for Sceptics‘: as the authors point out, even though everyone is talking about sustainability today, there is still no full awareness of how pervasive this concept can be and how it refers not only to the environment, as is usually the case, but to the whole of society. It is a valuable opportunity for companies to initiate positive change and draw competitive advantages and development opportunities from it.
This is something I have often been confronted with during these months in which I have had the opportunity to work on a challenging project: the drafting of our First Impact Assessment Report.
At Aton there has always been a strong focus on sustainability issues, which are inherent in its DNA and raison d’être and represent the heart of our mission. In 2021, we wanted to go a step further and became a Benefit Company, putting in black and white in our Articles of Association certain aims of common benefit for the entire ecosystem that surrounds us.
Together with Tania, Aton’s Impact Manager, and the entire company board, we have embarked on a journey of in-depth analysis of these issues, supported by a consultant, to measure the direct and indirect effects of our activities on stakeholders in the areas of workers, the environment, governance, customers and the community.
This is how our first Impact Assessment Report was born, a voluntary document, given that this is our first year as a Benefit Society: we wanted it in a streamlined form and conceived, also in the direction of the Sustainability Report, as a new way of telling our story and expressing the value of the people who participate in this project every day, in order to realise all together the common benefits for sustainable growth.
The most complex and at the same time most exciting aspect of this journey was certainly translating what until now had been free expressions of our way of doing business, taken almost for granted in our daily actions, into numbers and KPIs that would allow us to report our contribution to our main stakeholders.
If numbers are the indispensable element in financial statements, it is not so when we have to evaluate the effects on people, the environment and the community. How do we assess social and environmental impact? How are results to be declined? With which indicators and which objectives?
In our first common benefit we put people and their professional and personal growth at the centre. The training activities and the coaching course with an external professional involved 152 atonpeople for a total of 2850 hours of training and 1348 hours of coaching with 30 courses held. The objective of these activities is to help us express our potential starting from active listening and constant coaching, articulating for each of us an evolutionary project based on our aptitudes and our professional and personal skills: Giulia told us this well in her article “3 tips for choosing the right company”.
For the fourth consecutive year in 2021, Aton was again awarded the Great Place To Work certification as a quality working environment: 85% of Atonpeople consider Aton an excellent working environment and the average satisfaction index increased from 79 to 81%. In our opinion, this is the main achievement of this year and is also the time to gather new ideas for improvement and thus initiate new engagement initiatives with a view to the continuous development of our team.
For us, growing also means being constantly on the lookout for new talent and new ideas, contributing to creating quality job opportunities in our region (benefit 6): we believe in the importance of internships as a win-win tool between educational institutions and the world of work, and as many as 68% of the internships carried out in 2021 resulted in recruitment.
In reporting our actions for the environment, we asked ourselves how much our contribution could affect the planet, at a time in history when these issues are more topical and ‘hot’ than ever: we found ourselves agreeing on the importance of first of all promoting a culture based on the responsible use of resources through many small gestures that, repeated every day by each of us, can bring great results. This applies, for example, to the promotion of video calls, which, together with smart working, have enabled us to save 77,000 km compared to 2019, thus reducing pollutant emissions.
The multiplicative value of small everyday actions on the planet also applies to our solutions. Another key aspect expressed in Common Benefits is the commitment to designing software and services that help customers make their business more efficient while reducing their environmental and social impact.
These results were measured by the involvement and active participation of customers who share with us values related to sustainability and made us reflect on the ‘multiplicative’ power of our solutions. This has led us to set ourselves increasingly challenging sustainable growth objectives, continuing to invest in research, development and innovation so that our solutions are increasingly designed from the outset to generate environmental, social and economic value for our customers and for the entire ecosystem around us.