Monday, November 9, 2015

The Elastic Sustainability Report

How do you make a Sustainability Report that's elastic? That's easy, you have to be an elastic company. ECI is a global provider of ELASTIC Network™ solutions for service providers, utilities and data center operators. In ECI's fourth Sustainability Report, entitled "Reinventing the Future", ECI explains how elasticity goes hand-in-hand with an innovative, responsible and ethical approach to conducting business.

All this is in addition to continuously improving environmental impacts  - check out these results: since 2010, ECI has reduced
  • Energy consumption by 54% 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions by 49% 
  • Water use by 15% 
  • Waste by 62%
But back to elastic. One of the problems these days with technology is the fact that it becomes obsolete so quickly as the pace of innovation overtakes it - especially in the world of ICT - internet and communications technology. In order to keep up with technology, which can be the main key to remaining competitive, companies have to replace old technology with new. That is, unless they have ECI's ELASTIC targeted applied technology solutions that hook onto legacy technology without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as we say in Manchester. This is the sustainability of ECI's network solutions. In most cases, solutions are new enough to enable customers to stay ahead, and old enough to be compatible with existing platforms to avoid large investments that dent profitability or delay new competitive offerings. This is the case for example in Mexico. ECI supports the Mexican government's digital inclusion strategy by providing ELASTIC solutions for internet connectivity that reaches up to 97% of Mexico's population through fiber optic digital communications transported by existing power lines built for transmission of electricity. Bandwidth at the flick of a switch, combining legacy and innovation to deliver optimal flexibility, efficiency and conservation of resources. 

The concept of elasticity in business was introduced in a book called "The Elastic Enterprise" by NicholasVitalary and Haydn Shaughnessy - a truly interesting read. The authors present concepts such as radical adjacency, mass differentiation, new scale economics, sapient leadership and active strategy, supported by five dynamics of new operating models that together form a manifesto for business revolution. Elastic enterprises do well even in recession and support the creation of societal wealth and advancement. You'll have to read the book to understand the concepts in more detail. Even though The Elastic Enterprise was not written as a sustainability textbook, it could certainly be mistaken for one. 

Back to elastic reports. There is something always that little bit extra in ECI's Sustainability Reports - innovation with legacy. Each year, the report is brought to life by a global activity that engages employees in the company's mission and community spirit. Whether it's a Green Camera competition, or an "ECI and ME" photography competition or, as is the case in ECI's 2014 Sustainability Report , a "get-your-kids-to-draw-the-way-they-see-ECI" competition. The 2014 Sustainability Report is illustrated with drawings by ECI's extended family and includes children between ages 4 and 12 who creatively show ECI in its global ecosystem with drawings about about connectivity, the family culture of the company and the pace of technological advancement. Some show ECI simply as a home to thousands of employees and their families and communities.

Three other things that add interest and insight to ECI's 2014 Sustainability Report are commentaries from prominent voices in the world of sustainability today. These are (in surname alfa order):

Deborah Leipziger advises companies, governments and UN agencies on social innovation, human rights and business, and sustainability. Professor Leipziger is a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at the Lewis Institute at Babson, and teaches at the Bard MBA in Sustainability program and other business schools. The third edition of her book, The Corporate Responsibility Code Book will be published soon (I have editions I and II - these are essential books for susty professionals). Deborah's commentary refers to the Guiding Principles on Human Rights, explaining their importance.

Margo Mosher is a Manager with SustainAbility. SustainAbility is a think tank and strategic advisory firm working to catalyze business leadership on sustainability. SustainAbility was founded by activists John Elkington and Julia Hailes in 1987.  Last year, SustainAbility published a very insightful paper on transparency and the need for greater strategic material focus. I mentioned this in a post back in December last year. Margo's commentary is about the role of the private sector in working to create a sustainable economy and the value of reporting. 

Luis Neves is the chairman of GeSI - a membership organization for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies and organizations around the globe and a leading source of information, resources and best practices for achieving integrated social and environmental sustainability through ICT. Luis's commentary is about the value of ICT an an enabler, helping companies to reduce environmental impacts through the use of technology. GeSi has produced some impressive publications about the role of ICT in helping create a sustainable future, and since Luis prepared this commentary for ECI's Sustainability Report, GeSI has managed to put out SMARTer 2030, which updates prior research and insight into how technology can transform business efficiency and deliver environmental advantage. Well worth a review. 

Anyway, back to elastic. Now you know what an ELASTIC Sustainability Report is.

As always, take a look. Give feedback!

(Disclosure: ECI is a valued client and I supported the writing of this report and all prior reports)

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, 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 Twitter (@elainecohen)  or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm).  Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine:  

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