As data becomes an increasingly integral part of nearly all digital sectors, the ‘Investors for a Sustainable Digital Economy’ (ISDE) network has underlined the importance for setting a high bar when it comes to digital ethics.

It comes as the group of institutional investment managers and asset owners has released an in-house report titled ‘Considerations of Data Use for Global Investors in a Digital Age’. 

Examining previous research into data use, the study highlights investment-related issues, while also simultaneously marking the best emerging practises within the area alongside different causes and effects of data use within corporations. 

Drawing from the International Data Corporation’s prediction of 175 zettabytes in global data by 2025, the report takes on the job of a signalling post in raising awareness amongst businesses that data should be taken seriously across all industries in order to appropriately prepare for the future of extensive data processing.    

Putting an emphasis on adequate data handling, the ISDE has made an attempt at assembling a practical to-do list by examining various case studies that have emerged as a result of poor data management. 

The conclusions made then act as an advice to investors on how they can act productively towards supervising their portfolio companies and be able to reap maximum profits while also minimising harms associated with data use.   

Di Rifai, Founder of the ISDE network, praised the report by suggesting that ISDE members and stakeholders in general should consult with it in their journey towards achieving comprehensive tech ethics.

“This literature review report uniquely encapsulates an investor viewpoint on data use, and its implications for their portfolio companies. Furthermore, it reinforces their role as stewards of capital in securing a sustainable future for broader stakeholders,” said Di Rifai.

“The report was a stepping stone towards building a systematic framework such that ISDE members can meaningfully engage with their portfolio companies regarding tech ethics. Through ISDE, we are calling on the investment community to address the pressing need for ethical digital governance, at an inflection point for digitalization,” she concluded. 

Some of the current ISDE members include asset management firms like Baillie Gifford, Sands Capital, and Zouk Capital, as well as institutional asset owners such as Church Commissioners for England and Ethos Foundation.

Brian Christiansen, Director of Stewardship at Sands Capital, commented: “The investment risks associated with potential mishandling of data are too great to ignore and forward-looking investors must recognize the opportunity to guide corporations to set clear guidelines for appropriate data use.

“We are proud to be a part of this important effort in paving a stewardship pathway for investors to shape the future of an ethical digital economy.”