For two years in a row, Alcatel-Lucent has been ranked No 1 in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and is Supersector leader for its strategy and performance in the technology sector
Alcatel-Lucent is at the forefront of global communications, providing products and innovations in IP and cloud networking, as well as ultra-broadband fixed and wireless access to service providers and their customers, enterprises and institutions throughout the world.
Ethical Corporation: How are corporate communications around corporate responsibility and sustainability evolving in your business?
Christine Diamente: Corporate Responsibility (CR) and Sustainability communications have definitely evolved significantly in the last 4-5 years, particularly in the telecoms sector. Where most “CSR” communications in the past focused on employee philanthropy activities, today sustainability communications targets corporate performance on the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability, with clear KPIs, backed up with external verification of information. It is seen as a business imperative and an industry competitive differentiator.
There are key factors affecting this change:
- Increasing disclosure obligations in national law or other (eg Grenelle II law in France, SEC Dodd Frank Act etc)
- Increasing importance of CR in customer buying decisions in B2B as well as B2C
- Increasing global attention on sustainable and sustainability-led investments by the financial community
- Increasing importance of CR in company brands to address risks, build business and ultimately build reputation
- Rise of social media and open nature of telecommunications enabling any individual to access information and provide input/questions instantaneously on CR/Sustainability (eg traceability of products, human rights, energy efficiency, carbon emissions etc)
- Subsequent development of more expert and detailed content via CR reports following well recognized global frameworks (GRI, UN Global Compact etc.)
- More credibility by incorporating external vertification of information by third parties
In many leading companies, these are now two separate activities: the former focused on promoting key facts and initiatives from the CR/Sustainability Report and latter focused on producing targeted reports mostly for customers and financial analysts.
There is also more multilateral and open dialogue with key stakeholders including financial analysts, customers, NGOs and civil society. Due to the very nature of ICT and telecommunications, social media and open communications channels are just as essential as formal reporting.
Companies therefore need to have a comprehensive CR communications strategy which includes performance reporting, website, social media (Twitter, Blog, YouTube etc) as well as proactive stakeholder dialogue with key actors relevant to the business. They are two separate disciplines that definitely work hand in hand.
Ethical Corporation: Is there, in business generally, too much of a disconnect between reporting and communications teams? If so, why?
Christine Diamente: “If” there is a disconnect and this is not always the case, it is most likely due to the variety of audiences addressed by CR and sustainability communications. On the one hand, CR/Sustainability Reporting is seeing a huge content increase and is becoming much more an expert report to comply with national legal obligations and global frameworks. This information targets analysts, experts and customers. On the other hand, broader audiences want more “mainstream information” that can be too high level for experts audiences.
It is therefore essential both groups work hand in hand to ensure a successful CR/sustainability communications strategy towards all stakeholders as would any other aspect of a company.
Ethical Corporation: Does your company do tailored sustainability and CR messaging to different groups, if so, can you give us some examples?
Christine Diamente: Our company sustainability messaging at large is tailored for the customer and analyst community via our website, our Sustainability Report as well as our Corporate Reporting Portal.
We also produce a quick “highlights video” on our annual performance which targets employees, media and general public sectors. This is complemented by social media such as blogging, tweeting and youTube content (video, podcasts etc) which also targets less specialist audiences.
Ethical Corporation: What's your view on integrated reporting? Trojan horse, trojan pony, or neither?
Christine Diamente: Integrated Reporting is a very loosely used term by an increasing number of stakeholders. For Alcatel-Lucent, we have taken a step forward on integrated reporting by focusing our main sustainability information in our Annual Financial Report (20F) as per French Law Grenelle II requirements alongside our key company business indicators.
Moving forward, we will continue to focus our efforts on our legal obligations as well as catering our information to respond to our customer requirements as well as the investor community. Our sustainability communications is a key part of our business, an industry and competitive differentiator. It is part of our innovation and our reputation as a leading company in this space.
Christine Diamente will be speaking at the 7th Annual CR Reporting and Communications Summit, 27/28th November 2013. She will be part of a session that discusses and outlines how to build an authentic dialogue with your consumers and customers, presenting alongside Orange and IKEA.Alcatel-Lucent communications cr communications CR Reporting Management spotlight
November 2013, London, UK
Add materiality to your business CR disclosure strategy, get to grips with all the latest CR reporting guidelines and bring your CR communications to the next level for increased brand loyalty and stakeholder engagement. Real life examples from Unilever, Virgin Media, IKEA, Nestle and more!