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March 03, 2010

Vodafone Tops List of Sustainable ICT Companies
    by Robert Kropp

Ranking of the largest global information and communication technology companies finds strengths in product innovation and supply chain engagement, but room for improvement in emissions reduction and stakeholder engagement.

SocialFunds.com -- The importance of corporate sustainability in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry sector is two-fold. With extensive supply chains and the significant environmental impact of e-waste, the ICT industry is under pressure from key stakeholders to demonstrate leadership in sustainability management. As providers of tools that other industry sectors and social institutions use to improve their own sustainability practices, ICT companies are increasingly expected to be leaders in corporate transparency and reporting as well.

Two Tomorrows, a UK-based sustainability consultant, recently issued its ranking of the sustainability leadership practices of the world’s 20 largest ICT companies, assessing them according to their performance in the areas of business strategy, corporate governance, stakeholder engagement, supply chain management, and product innovation.

According to the company’s benchmarking methodology, “Assessments are based on companies’ public disclosures, including their annual report and accounts, sustainability, CSR and corporate citizenship reports, and information on their websites.”

In general, Two Tomorrows found that ICT companies performed well in providing innovative products and services to support the global response to climate change. In addition, the company’s Tomorrow' s Value Rating tool found that the highest-ranking performers were taking steps to address e-waste through recycling programs, and engaging with their supply chains to reduce emissions and increase transparency.

On the other hand, while many ICT companies have set emissions reduction targets, most have yet to achieve significant reductions, according to Two Tomorrows. Many ICT companies also lag in stakeholder engagement.

Two Tomorrows ranked Vodafone first among sustainable ICT companies. Thomas Krick, global manager of the Tomorrow’s Value program, said, “Vodafone has implemented comprehensive governance mechanisms for sustainability issues. It listens and responds to stakeholders both locally and globally, and has a strong track record of developing services that help improve the lives of disadvantaged people and remote communities.”

Nokia ranked second on the list, followed by HP. HP was cited by the report for integrating social and environmental considerations into its supply chain relationships, and for transparency in disclosure.

According to Two Tomorrows, seven European companies ranked among the top ten companies in the Tomorrow's Value Rating, two are Asian, and HP was the only US-based company in the top ten. However, a look at the list suggests otherwise. Two US-based companies, Motorola and Cisco, are listed as tying for ninth in the Tomorrow's Value Rating.

The two companies that finished at the bottom of the list, AT&T and Verizon, are both US-based.

It is interesting to note that Two Tomorrows recently published its ranking of the 15 largest Silicon Valley-based companies. Not surprisingly, HP ranked first, and Cisco finished third. Intel, which ranked second, is not included on the list of global ICT companies. Because there appears to be no discernable difference in the methodologies applied by Two Tomorrows for the two lists, Intel’s absence from the global list must be attributable to the company’s size.

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