CSE Announces Surprising Findings for Corporate Sustainability In Silicon Valley

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) announces its ground breaking report: Sustainability Trends in Silicon Valley. While much has been made about whether Silicon Valley corporations, start-ups and tech giants are or are not models of sustainability, CSE provides the first systematic research on the true picture of sustainability efforts by analyzing the current state of sustainability and corporate social responsibility reporting by Silicon Valley-based companies and organizations.

The report, released in mid- November 2016, provides insight for investors, business leaders, company boards, CSR and sustainability professionals, NGOs, customers, academics and students and other stakeholders. This research examines 100 companies ranging from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to large businesses with 1000 to over 100,000 employees. The research reports on company or organization size, type, industry, and it tracks if organizations follow best practices for sustainability and whether or not they are sustainability role models to other sectors.

Some of the 100 companies examined are global leaders in their field such as Adobe, AMD, Apple, Cisco, Dolby, eBay, Facebook, FICO, Google, Intel, Intuit, PayPal, Oracle, SunPower, Tesla, Twitter and Zynga. Industries covered include automotive, computer and internet, entertainment, financial services, medical, renewables and telecommunications. The findings outline trends and various analyses ranging from which particular focus areas are emphasized more heavily than others to which type of companies generally produce the highest number of comprehensive sustainability practices, have the highest percentage of sustainability professionals or sustainability reporting, if any.

The report notes that 61% of companies have a sustainability professional, weighted in favor of large companies over SMBs. Even though more than half of the companies studied have sustainability professionals, only 29% have sustainability reporting. Companies choose instead to vaguely display what sustainability practices they have, often with slick online promotion. The report breaks down sustainability practices into five categories: community, environment, employee, ethics, supply chain and philanthropy. Only 21% of the companies studied address all six practices, each showing greater or lesser emphasis on particular categories. Finding Google on the list is no surprise, while Apple is notably absent.

While many of the companies examined are leaders in their field, they are not necessarily leaders in Sustainability as many people expect. Overall, the companies to do not appear to have a clear strategy to address stakeholder concerns or expectations. With the exception of those strongest companies at the top of the scale such as Adobe, Applied Materials and Cisco, corporate strategy seems to be focused on one or two elements of sustainability, rather than a systems approach.

While the report offers many insights, one surprising finding is the focus on Ethics, with 95% practicing ethical governance. What are the implications for due diligence, investors or community watchdogs? In this political climate where ethical behavior is gravely in question, the computer industry, across the board, as well as entertainment, financial services and telecommunications demonstrate a heavy emphasis on Ethics. This contradicts perceived malfeasance and reported unethical behavior. The report raises the question of how an industry can show significant ethical conduct in-house (governance) while having a reputation for misconduct toward customers and consumers at large.

This report is the first of its kind to delve into corporate behavior in Silicon Valley. CSE also has reports on Sustainability Reporting Trends in North America for the mining, energy, food and retail industries. CSE’s research furthers its commitment to providing the highest caliber training in sustainability for corporate executives and sustainability managers worldwide. Its Sustainability Academy (www.sustainability-academy.org), a global initiative with the mission to train 100,000 sustainability professionals by 2020, provides rigorous education to sustainability professionals, entrepreneurs and graduates needing the latest resources to advance in this ever evolving field. See CSE’s lineup for 2017.

For more on the new Report go to www.cse-net.org

 

Certified Sustainability Practitioner (CSR) Program. Leading program for qualifying Sustainability Professionals that want a career in this field:
• Houston, TX, February 23-24, 2017,
• Toronto, Ontario, March 27-28, 2017
• New York, NY, May 25-26, 2017

More Details at www.cse-net.org/article/127/upcoming-trainings

The Sustainability Academy offers the following specialized Online Programs for continues education:
• Diploma on Corporate Sustainability
• Certificate on Sustainability (CSR) Reporting
• Certificate on Carbon Reduction Strategy
• Online Certificate on ESG performance for Investors and Sustainability Professionals

More details at www.sustainability-academy.org

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Sustainable Business

Comment

  • The Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) announced its 2019 business-focused research into the state of Sustainability Strategy and Reporting in Silicon Valley. Sustainability Reporting Trends in Silicon Valley 2019 is a follow-up to CSE’s 2016 research. The report finds limited sustainability leadership from the world’s largest concentration of tech companies.The significant and positive exception are certain large multi-nationals with strong sustainability awareness and action.

    See detailed findings in the report: https://cse-net.org/silicon-valley-research-2019/

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