Thursday, June 26, 2014

This is an unsustainability unreport unreview

This is not a post. This is not a blog. This is not a review of EMC's latest sustainability report.

Haha. Of course it is all of the above.

However, I wanted to draw attention to Kathrin (Kate) Winkler's brilliant unblog post which totally made me want to read EMC's seventh annual sustainability report.  I recommend you read her post before you carry on reading mine. By telling us everything that she wasn't going to do, or isn't going to do, Kate effectively describes everything she has done. It's not only creative, it's truly insightful about the value of reporting and the process, recognizes key players that made a contribution and totally has the effect of getting you interested. Totally.

Naturally, I had to not take a peek. Which, in Kate's language, means, take a peek.

EMC has take a big (positive) step forward this year by organizing the report around sustainability (material) issues rather than the traditional triumvirate of people, planet and profit. This year, the body of the report is in 12 sections, representing the issues identified as most material and displayed in this infographic.

Oddly, these are listed in alphabetical order. I wouldn't have thought this is particularly helpful when reviewing material issues. Rather, order of size or magnitude of impact might have been more meaningful. Perhaps they are all equal? With corporate governance at the top, I tend to think that makes corporate governance the most important. As a result, since the report content  is ordered in line with this list, you end up with a whole bunch of corporate governance stuff at the start of the report. Now, anyone who reads reports knows that corporate governance is the most boringly tedious mind-melting yucky section of any sustainability report. Fortunately, at EMC, this is only two pages. But it's still boring. So I skipped to what I thought would be the most fascinating section: the role of IT in society.

Indeed. In this section, after some copywritery type generalistic stuff about how the cloud is transforming our lives and Big Data has become Big Everything, EMC provides three truly interesting case studies about the use of technology that makes a difference.

First: How better IT solutions have helped the fire service streamline its operations and make it possible to help save lives in Australia, one of the world’s most susceptible areas for bush fires.

Second: The ShieldMe App, activated  in situations of distress when no immediate help is available, using virtual channels to send out various types of SOS alerts. This was developed in India, in light of the increasing (despicable) situation relating to crimes against women that we have been witnessing for some time.

Third: Providing IT support and interactive data visualizations to bring the reality and impact of climate change to life for an online audience, during the 640-kilometer trek from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica to the South Pole by environmental campaigner Parker Liautaud.

In each of these short summary stories, that indeed give a view of how technology is helping make a difference, EMC provides additional clickable detail in the form of videos or other website content. If you want more stories (I did), you have to download an expanded customers section that is a supplementary piece of the executive summary report, focusing on EMC's customer interface.  (I did). There was one additional story .. and a further half a dozen pages of explanations about EMS's Voice of Customer program and other background.

For EMC, "the role of IT in society refers to the impacts, both positive and negative, of the use of EMC® technologies, products and solutions, with particular focus on the enabling effects of cloud, Big Data, and Trusted IT." No negative examples, mind you.

As for the rest of the material issues, information security and privacy became the next topic of most interest to me. More blurby copy. In order to get the full picture, we are referred to three more sections to download. (I didn't).

Overall, I find EMC's report to have been developed with creativity and for that, I am happy to magnanimously confer a CSR Blog Cone Award.

The report comes in an Executive Summary of 40 pages and a suite of downloadable report sections, that together form the entire report, that can be accessed separately or as a comprehensive suite.  Self-service menu style. It's a bit unwieldy. I prefer a good old one-size-fits-all PDF. But it's creative. The Executive Summary is long and short enough to get an appreciation of a range of positive impacts that EMC is advancing without it putting you to sleep (except for the governance section haha). Each material issue starts with describing EMC's approach and follows with highlights of the year's activities.

The section on Goals and Targets and Progress follows the material disclosures. Multi-year targets for operational emissions and renewables show (good)  progress made to date. One target on ewaste was achieved. A range of other targets (all environment or supply chain related, with the exception of two community involvement targets) appear to be new targets. Most are detailed and measurable, as targets should be. And there is even a is a hidden gem! In the supply chain highlights we can find this short but really powerful update:

"Strategic direct material suppliers are now formally required to publish sustainability reports to the GRI standard."

 And the 2020 target is:

That deserves a load of cones:

I have maintained for years that the way to get more companies to advance sustainability practice in their business and report on sustainability is to have their customers require them to do so. More than regulation, more than consumer pressure, the need to do business will leave many companies with no choice other than to act and report. I am pleased to see that EMC is making the commitment to drive this forward. I'd love to see a list of EMC suppliers that have already published sustainability reports (especially the ones that wouldn't otherwise have done so). 

All in all, I am glad that Kate Winkler didn't write her blog post and that I didn't take the time out of my busy ice cream schedule to take an unlook at the report. 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via   or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm

1 comment:

Patent Attorney said...

I'm sure they'll be thrilled that they got the cone award!

Related Posts with Thumbnails