Senior social responsibility leader Rose Kirk addresses how Verizon‘s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy today is building on past success – tackling the biggest problems in the world to benefit our customers, shareholders, employees and society.
We’re sharpening our vision of what social responsibility means at Verizon, and that vision is a bold one: To tackle the biggest problems in the world to benefit our customers, shareholders, employees and society.
Today there is a heightened interest in a company’s purpose, going beyond financial performance to assess how it delivers value for all its stakeholders. How is Verizon’s CSR strategy evolving?
We’re sharpening our vision of what social responsibility means at Verizon, and that vision is a bold one: To tackle the biggest problems in the world to benefit our customers, shareholders, employees and society. We are being even more intentional about understanding the pressing economic and social challenges that communities are dealing with and leveraging products and solutions to address them. Also, we are working to ensure that socially responsible practices are integrated throughout every facet of our business and become a core element of our corporate DNA. Our focus is on minimizing the environmental footprint of our own operations, and also on working with our vendors to improve the energy efficiency of the components and equipment that comprise our world-class network. Moreover, as a purchaser of more than $50 billion of goods and services, we are working in partnership with our suppliers to promote ethical and responsible business practices throughout our ecosystem. As a champion of diversity and inclusion, we are working not only within our own company and among our suppliers and business partners, but also serving as a leading voice among technology providers to ensure that the digital world provides equitable opportunities so that no one is left behind.
In today’s digital world, privacy is more relevant than ever. As you think about Verizon’s CSR strategy and objectives, what role do privacy and data security play?
Verizon’s Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Information Security Officer, both of whom are women, are leading the charge so that Verizon is well positioned to meet the diverse needs and expectations of our customers and ensure trust with their data. They participate in the efforts of numerous organizations composed of diverse stakeholders so that they are actively engaged in how new developments can engender even greater consumer trust.
You have a goal to cut the carbon intensity of your operations in half by 2025. Are on you on track with this and other environmental commitments?
Since 2016, we have reduced our carbon intensity by 28 percent and are on pace to reach our goal. In 2018, we announced a new commitment to source renewable energy equivalent to 50 percent of our total electricity usage by 2025, a significant undertaking for a company of our size. This will further contribute to reducing our carbon intensity. Verizon recently issued a $1 billion green bond, a first for our industry in the U.S., with proceeds to be used to fund key environmental priorities like renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, water conservation and biodiversity. So, even as we make gains toward our goals, we are raising the bar on our environmental objectives.
For many years Verizon has been recognized as a leader in diversity and inclusion. How does that approach contribute to business success?
We are proud of our standing as a leader in diversity and inclusion, not only in our industry, but among all major corporations. We are consistently recognized as a top employer for veterans, people of color, women and people with disabilities. And at Verizon, diversity starts at the top. Half of our board members are women or people of color, and these groups each fill roughly a third of our senior management positions.
Our business is all about innovation. In order to attract and retain the very best innovators, it’s essential that we have a work culture that is inclusive and lets employees bring their authentic selves to work every day. Also, our primary goal is to serve our customers’ needs. The millions of customers we serve are diverse across every dimension, and a diverse and inclusive team is an absolute necessity to understand and meet their expectations.
Today, millions of American students are lacking the technology and skills required for success in a world that grows more digital every day. As a country, we cannot ignore the importance of developing the next generation of technology savvy citizens to fuel a healthy economy and promote our global competitiveness.
Verizon’s efforts to close the digital divide are aimed at helping those with little or no access to the digital world gain the ability to use technology in economically advantageous ways.
Our Verizon Innovative Learning program provides free technology, free internet access and a next-gen, technology-infused curriculum that changes the way teachers teach and students learn. We work hand in hand with nonprofit partners and our team of education and technology experts to build and administer STEM-focused programs from the ground up. We carefully measure and refine our programs to ensure we’re making a difference – and we have. Our programs drive real academic improvements such as improved math achievement and increased student engagement as compared to non-Verizon Innovative Learning schools.
Additionally, we are committed to being the first to bring 5G technology to the classroom, where our students and teachers will be at the forefront of the transformative technology that will drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology such as virtual and augmented reality and advanced, low-latency robotics, along with more immersive collaboration experiences will further prepare the next generation for tomorrow’s digital world.
Since 2012, we have committed a total of $400 million to help under-resourced communities bridge the digital divide. We have helped more than 1 million kids to date and plan to help roughly 2 million more by 2021.