Silicon Valley giant Symantec has been in business for 30 years. Originally focused on artificial intelligence and database programs, the company now provides a full range of software services, including the security programs for which most consumers know it and enterprise software for large businesses. This week, Symantec issued its annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, which focuses on employee engagement, environmental stewardship and the company’s role in securing information.
Symantec’s CSR report is a compelling example of how companies should frame its challenges and success to its stakeholders. Rather than a public relations exercise that broadcasts what a company wants you to hear, Symantec focuses on its most pressing material issues and therefore shines as a template of effective stakeholder engagement. Some of the highlights in this year’s report include:
Employee satisfaction and talent management: It is great that companies like to tackle good things for the environment and do good in faraway countries, but a company’s priority should be its people. Symantec leads off its report with how it manages its talent and maintains diversity. As the company’s workforce grew 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, so did its commitment to developing and coaching them: For example, internal training increased 27 percent this fiscal year. A founding signatory of the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles (WEP), Symantec launched an internal WEP stakeholder committee and implemented a supplier diversity team to boost procurement from women-owned businesses. Employees have responded to this inclusive corporate culture in part by donating almost $800,000 to non-profits and logging over 18,000 volunteer hours.
Climate change: Symantec has committed to greening its buildings: 88 percent are LEED certified and almost two-thirds scored the Energy Star label. Greenhouse gas emissions declined five percent from 2008 levels, and Symantec has worked with organizations including the Carbon Disclosure Project to expand their work abroad. Meanwhile, the company has committed to use less resources, from increased recycled content in its packaging (even though 70 percent of its products are sold via download) to encouraging the use of video conferencing technology to decrease employee travel.
Securing information: Cybercrime, according to a Symantec report, costs society up to $388 billion. Concern over security is one reason why many businesses and companies are still hesitant to move to cloud computing. To that end, Symantec opened a CyberSecurity Institute to train and collaborate with law enforcement officials, launched its Symantec 03 cloud information protection platform and appointed internal privacy champions to raise even more awareness about this problem within the company.
Symantec still faces a bevy of challenges: the percentage of women in its management ranks actually slipped this year, moving towards a more green IT (information technology) is proving fitful and despite the company’s growth, its corporate giving slightly decreased. Nevertheless, its latest report is a leading example of how a company can have a frank discussion of its successes and shortcomings with its stakeholders, and shows that the company is a leader in corporate citizenship.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter.
Photo courtesy Symantec’s CSR report.