My Learnings as a CSR Intern: Reporting Trends in Climate Change and Diversity
2019-08-08 | 7 min read
My time as a summer intern here at Keysight Technologies is coming to a close. As I finish my final report, I have begun reflecting on the projects and experiences I have gained as the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Intern. Going into my senior year of university and being a part of the “real world” I am finding out where I see myself making a contribution to corporate sustainability. This summer has provided me more insight into not only the work of CSR in a corporation but also the rising trends in this business area. With my assignment to investigate emerging reporting and topic-specific CSR trends, here’s what I’ve found out so far this summer and where I feel the future of CSR is headed.
Financial Reporting Becoming More Required:
In today’s society, there are rising concerns about climate change and related social and environmental impacts. From a corporate perspective, climate change concerns additionally raise the need for assessments of business risks and opportunities. By identifying climate change-related risks, companies provide transparency to potential financial impacts. At the same time, new business opportunities and markets from climate change could yield positive business results. For example, a report by the New Climate Economy estimates that climate change could yield about 26 trillion USD through 2030 through resource efficiency, product innovation, and resilience.
In addition, corporate investors are increasingly requesting climate-related financial reporting data to understand a company’s investment risk and business opportunities. According to Forbes, since 2013 almost 6 trillion USD in financial assets have been divested from funds related to fossil fuels and more investments are being made towards clean energy. To help guide businesses in creating the connections between climate change and performance impacts, emerging reporting frameworks such as SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) and TCFD (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures) have specific climate change disclosure in support of investor inquiries. These emerging frameworks mark the movement towards climate and sustainability financial reporting, and serve as potential tools for businesses to consider in addition to more standard frameworks such as the General Reporting Initiative (GRI), International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
At Keysight, our current reporting with CDP and GRI place us in good alignment with the general principles of frameworks like SASB and TCFD with the company recognizing the importance of being aware of climate changes impacts and preparations for future risks and opportunities.
Diversity and Inclusion Trends Driving Innovation:
Through my summer project, I also found that there is increasing interest in understanding company workforce diversity and inclusion policies. This trend goes beyond gender and extending to groups such as the LGTBQ+ community and disabled workers. Ensuring companies have inclusive policies and a diverse workforce can place businesses in a more competitive role for acquiring and retaining talent to support innovation, particularly in the technology industry.
A common theme I found was a strong focus on gender diversity at the top executive and board level. Initiatives such as 2020 Women on Boards are advocating for more representation of women on companies’ board of directors. A study in Australia by Gould, Tullik, and Sardeshmukh investigated the impact of gender diversity on a business's overall diversity. Based on this study they noted a trickle-down effect, meaning more women at the board level often leads to more women opportunities for other executive-level positions. Reporting frameworks for gender diversity, such as the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index are slowly growing and taking hold as well, driving more corporate transparency and reporting around these policies.
Many companies are also expanding beyond gender diversity and into other communities, particularly in the areas of supply chain diversity and related corporate awards and recognitions. While the LGBTQ+ and the disabled communities were most noted, the scope expands beyond these groups to be inclusive of people of color, veterans, small businesses, and more. There are numerous organizations focused on advocating for diversity in the supply chain. Organizations such as the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and Disability:IN focus on growing supply chain diversity by certifying diverse businesses and building corporate partnerships. Furthermore, these organizations support different rating listings such as the Human Rights Campaign, Corporate Equality Index, and Disability:IN created the Disability Equality Index, that helps identify and analyze related corporate policies across industries. Other rating organizations also recognize diversity efforts such as FORTUNE.
For its part, in 2018, Keysight was listed as one of FORTUNE’s best places to work for diversity which focuses on a company's percentage of minorities, LGBTQ+, boomers or older, and people with disabilities.
It is these types of awards, ratings, and recognitions that matter to potential employees, customers, and investors in highlighting innovation and inclusiveness potential.
Climate change and diversity trends arose throughout my research. Consumers and businesses want to know how the companies they buy from or support are being mindful of their impacts and transparent reporting is one way to ensure that. Label Insight found in a 2016 study nearly 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.
As the years go on, expectation for this type of reporting will only increase. I am personally excited to see all these developments arise in the coming months and years, and further engage with these topics to help promote an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible future.