TSR: The Intersection of Technology & Corporate Social Responsibility
Sustainable LeadershipTechnology and InnovationEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceTechnologyTechnology, Data, and DigitalSustainability
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September 02, 2021
Sustainable LeadershipTechnology and InnovationEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceTechnologyTechnology, Data, and DigitalSustainability
Executive Summary
Nada Usina explains all about the growing concept of TSR.

Excerpt from the article originally published by AESC's Executive Talent Magazine

AESC's Executive Talent Magazine quotes Nada Usina on the emerging concept of technology social responsibility.


Digital technologies are reshaping how humans live and work, and the impact on everything from individuals to economies is immense and growing. Mitigating the disruptive impact of tech and being deliberate about its constructive application is at the heart of Technological Social Responsibility. 


Nada Usina co-leads the Technology Practice at Russell Reynolds Associates and serves on its Executive Committee. She says, “Think about radio or newspaper going digital, and that’s become the norm. In a real business sense, where is the revenue coming from, how do they build an ecosystem? Digital transformation has clearly been a topic for 15, 20 years. Now you have Spotify or your favorite streaming services. You have e-commerce, so retail had to think about selling online.” 

Digital tech adoption extends well beyond information, retail and entertainment. Usina says, “Financial services was probably the next sector on that spectrum. I think healthcare is following that just because it was more complex from a regulatory and a complexity perspective. And then the industrial environment is late to the topic of digital transformation, and many are only just understanding what digital means for them today.” 


TSR in the C-Suite

“Board and C-suite leaders have a real opportunity for TSR to make a difference,” Usina says. “Tech social responsibility initiatives have impact when embedded into the fabric of the business by the Board, the C-suite, and the customers.” 


For Usina, “TSR is really connected to a broader mood that’s in the world today. We are seeing a lot just around ESG in general, this whole broader sense of environmental and social and corporate governance. If you are following the themes of discussions at Davos, it’s on every leader’s mind. Not surprisingly, so many of the technology titans are driving what is happening in the world today, so it’s not surprising that there’s an increased interest and focus around how this sector brings their perspective into the societal impact.” 

Balancing Responsibility and Growth 

Is there a cost to organizations that adhere to corporate social responsibility and ESG principles? Do companies have to weigh business losses or gains against societal costs or benefits? Usina considers a longer-term view. “There is something to be said for a long-term investment in how a company operates. It will impact the type of talent it attracts. Think about how people are selecting employers and why they’re remaining with employers. Often, it’s well beyond the job itself. It is the culture of the organization. It’s the impact that an organization has more broadly, and it’s around the values that an organization has. Whether it’s from a talent perspective or a customer perspective, there is certainly something to be said around a longer-term, less immediate, pure-profit focused lens on the world." 

“What is interesting about the technology sector, because there’s been such growth and innovation and venture minded acceptance in this sector, it’s not always been purely about profit,” Usina says. “It’s been around innovation and driving for the future. And so I think there’s a really interesting alignment between this sector and the general principles that organizations that fall within technology typically employ. The types of people who are being hired and the focus of institutional investors around companies that have a sustainable focus is, in our view, not going to slow down anytime soon.” 


For Usina, TSR “aligns really well with the idea of being future-facing and forward-thinking. Profitability isn’t always first on the mind of many of these organizations. It is often about disruption and creating new paradigms. It’s really quite exciting to see what may come of it as the world becomes a little bit more serious on the topic, the crescendo of how this broader topic has entered into the forefront of the dialogue over the last couple of years. I think it’s more than just words. It’s real deep thinking about, okay, now what does this mean? What is the investment around it, and what is the impact?”

To read the full article, click here.