The Swedish ICT giant has aligned its progress on corporate responsibility with the 17 SDGs
With 20 new mobile broadband subscriptions activated every second, a connected society is fast becoming a reality. And if you are wondering what that society might look like, Ericsson’s 2015 sustainability and corporate responsibility report, which maps its performance against the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), is a good place to start.
Or better, go to its website. There you can find out how information and communications technology (ICT) is driving progress to meet the SDGs and Ericsson’s efforts to bring the benefits of mobile technology to everyone. Ericsson has a big contribution to make, as 40% of the world’s mobile traffic is carried over Ericsson-made networks, supporting more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
Ericsson’s vision of a networked society comes to life thanks to punchy language, animated videos on key data and handy statistics on global trends. The website links to stories covering initiatives such as using connectivity to manage water usage and connecting disaster-struck countries to those providing aid. You can also listen to a podcast of the company’s sustainability experts discussing their achievements.
Embracing the SDGs
The PDF report is well-designed. With the numbers at the end of chapters, each section stays focused on the narrative, drawing the reader in with infographics and visual clarity.
Beyond the design, Ericsson clearly knows the positive impact ICT can have on sustainability and is committed to using its technology to accelerate its contribution to meeting the SDGs.
The global goals offer organisations the opportunity to rethink their strategy and set targets to contribute to transforming our world. Ericsson says its 2015 sustainability and CR strategy embraced the SDGs, adopting the goals as the framework to measure its impact on society.
But it’s unclear if any new corporate goals have been inspired by the SDGs. The focus is on how existing products and services contribute to the goals. Ericsson’s sustainability strategy seems to have remained the same for years, clearly divided between reducing risks and increasing positive impacts through the company’s Technology for Good initiatives.
Nevertheless, Ericsson does well in mapping how ICT can help each of the 17 goals. Even those goals that are peripheral to the ICT industry, such as SDG 14 – to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources – get close attention. The company cites its Connected Water solution in the US, which remotely monitors municipal water quality to protect marine resources. It also tells us it has conducted research with the Earth Institute at Columbia University to find out how ICT can speed the uptake of services supporting the SDGs.
Connecting the unconnected
There appears to be real leadership commitment to the SDGs, with senior executives taking up ambassador roles for individual SDGs. This comes through strongly under SDG 10, which is about reducing inequalities within and among countries. The goal is coupled with Ericsson’s 2020 target of increasing female representation across its workforce to a third. This may seem low, but the ICT sector is traditionally male-dominated. Ericsson has already achieved 31% female representation in the leadership team, 22% in the top 250, and 22% of the total workforce.
By the end of 2015, Ericsson says it had helped 16 million people through its Technology for Good initiatives, which aim to connect the unconnected. It exceeded its goal to reduce CO2e emissions per employee by 30% two years ahead of schedule, and it aims to be the undisputed leader in energy performance by 2020.
The report makes it clear that Ericsson is working hard to achieve its Networked Society vision and is more than willing to contribute to the SDGs. We look forward to yearly updates delivered with the same enthusiasm as displayed in this report.
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October 2016, London
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