Dec 27 2010

How CIOs Without Borders Originated

CIOs Without Borders saw its earliest days in the guise of the E-Waste Task Force, a group Atefeh Riazi, then global CIO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, formed to help address this considerable downside of technology.

"I wanted to raise awareness on the negative environmental and social impacts electronic waste is having in developing and underdeveloped worlds, mostly Asia, India and Latin America," says Riazi, who has since left her position with Ogilvy and is now CIO for the New York City Housing Authority.

In particular, the E-Waste Task Force lobbied North American lawmakers to disallow the use of hazardous materials like mercury, lead and cadmium in electronics such as computers, printers, servers and televisions, she says. While much work is still to be done on solving the global e-waste crisis, the task force did manage to secure promissory notes from some IT industry players to stop using hazardous materials in their gear by certain timeframes, she says.

And in the meantime, the E-Waste Task Force has morphed into CIOs Without Borders.

"We saw so many issues that we had to get the IT community to focus on and get engaged with," Riazi says. "E-waste is certainly a critical one that we all continue to be passionate about, but there are also issues of poverty, health and education -- and these are areas to which the immense power of technology could help contribute positively."