Last week, EMC published our seventh annual sustainability report: “Thinking Forward: Redefine the Future.” The subject matter is not just about “being green”, nor is it just about feeling good about ourselves. Both dramatically understate the reality.
Topics covered by the report include (but are not even remotely limited to): EMC’s approach to innovation, the role of education in our company’s future, how our products affect customers’ environmental impacts, employee training, and policy priorities.
Sustainability really is core to our business. There are many definitions of “sustainability,” but I often describe it as how we choose to interact with and respond to the world around us and how we affect the people that we touch. EMC’s approach to sustainability is key to taking advantage of the business opportunities arising from changes happening around us, being an attractive employer, our desirability as a supplier, and our resilience in the face of new social and environmental risks.
I’d like to call out three particular aspects new to this year’s report:
- The Executive Report looks at sustainability not along the lines of organizational structure, but from the perspective of our stakeholders. It is organized to answer questions such as “Why is energy efficiency so important to EMC and what is each part of the business doing about it?” and “How does EMC think about the role of governance?” followed by detailed reports about approaching sustainability in each part of our business.
- We are no longer organizing around the three traditional pillars of sustainability: people, planet, and profit. We think every decision needs to be considered from all of these angles. After all, responsible handling of eWaste prevents leaching of chemicals into the ground, protects human health, and recovers more non-renewable material (and thus more economic value). Our goal is to optimize all three dimensions in every choice we make.
- We have added a significant portfolio of goals for 2020, including a mid-term absolute greenhouse gas reduction goal. It’s an aspirational one for sure, and is a great example of why innovation and sustainability do – and must – go hand in hand!
So where is this all going? There is a considerable movement toward “integrated reporting” in which material sustainability issues are included in corporate financial reporting. In fact, EMC has a pretty comprehensive explanation of our sustainability priorities in our most recent 10-K filing already.
But I believe that even when integrated reporting becomes standard, the sustainability report will persist. People still want the narrative of our journey, information on how we approach issues that may not be material to EMC but are important to them, and the stories of teams and individuals at EMC who have made an impact. Like a resume, it’s really a foundation for dialogue – with our customers, partners, investors, employees, and neighbors.