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Is there truth in Silicon Valley Companies as sustainability leaders?

February 1, 2017
Is there truth in Silicon Valley Companies as sustainability leaders?

During a webinar featuring research from CSE on sustainability practices in Silicon Valley, attendees indicated a widespread perception that Silicon Valley is strongly in tune with sustainability practices.

We’ve all heard how Millennials are purpose driven, favoring companies which model their values – Silicon Valley is rife with Millennials.  It’s the home of start-ups, young companies situated to take advantage of IoT and other sustainability technologies.  And, of course, with social media, viral videos, blogging, eye-catching websites, producing CSR reports must be second nature.

Over 78% of the Global Fortune 500 produce a sustainability report (many receiving instruction from us!); 61% when looking only at the Fortune 100.  So, Silicon Valley companies should be in that 60-80% range.

Yet, only 29% in our study produced a sustainability report.  Low emphasis on reporting could be due to a lack of resources – time, budget, mandate.  Perhaps Silicon Valley culture is still short-sighted.  Who worries about sustainability when quarterly returns are due and an exit strategy in place?

What do you think?

One reason given is that they lack the know-how.  They are doing admiral work in ESG – 95% claim to focus highly on ethics, 63% on environment, 51% on community and employees.  But, when it comes to reporting accomplishments, they need to do more than post a few feel-good bullets on their website.

There is a process to good CSR reporting – accepted practices, ever changing guidelines and regulations. Public Relations is often tasked to spread the message, but without a well-trained and dedicated staff, at best CSR reporting falls to the wayside. While strong CSR reporting can be an effective tool in a company’s public relations arsenal, at worst, it can fall prey to greenwashing.

CSE’s research furthers its commitment to high caliber training in sustainability for corporate executives and sustainability managers worldwide.  Our Sustainability Academy offers affordable, online courses providing the foundation for sustainability strategy and reporting.  We offer advanced training to improve sustainability organization wide with our Certified Sustainability Practitioner (CSR) Programs: Houston, Feb. 23-24; Toronto, April 5-6; New York, May 25-26.

Branding and reputation are critical for building positive stakeholder relations, whether customers, investors or the global community.  Consumers and clients need to ask for transparency via CSR reporting.  Every company, Silicon Valley or not, should offer this look into their own progress toward sustainability.  Let’s align reality with perception!

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