eBay Inc. is proving to be a company that delivers on its promises. With more than 33,000 employees worldwide, the e-commerce giant isn’t naïve about its two-decade span of influence on both society and the global economy. In its very first Social Innovation annual update, eBay Inc. successfully demonstrated its commitment following a series of goals set last June to fuel shareholder value and pursue a three-year, long-term series of objectives to create positive societal and environmental change.
“We’ve long believed in eBay Inc.’s capacity to drive both shareholder value and positive social and environmental change—it’s not just off to the side, it’s built into what we do every day,” said Lauren Moore, head of Global Social Innovation for eBay Inc. “Our Social Innovation efforts formalize this sense of purpose that’s been here from the start and provide a framework to understand our impact. And as shareholder value is increasingly measured in more ways than just purely financial gain, we believe our Social Innovation efforts will continue to position us for sustainable growth over the short and long term.”
eBay Inc.’s annual update is guided by three key focus areas — creating economic opportunity, enabling greener commerce and powering charitable giving — and demonstratively connects each to the crux of its business goals.
Creating economic opportunity
The past year has been marked by eBay Inc.’s efforts to better unlock business activities that foster an inclusive economy, empower entrepreneurs, enable the growth of small and mid-sized businesses and facilitate global growth opportunities. In 2013 alone, eBay Inc. reported $205 billion in commerce volume, representing 18 percent of global e-commerce and 2 percent of global retail. By 2015, the company plans to grow this figure to $300 billion. Through collaborative partnerships with nonprofits and the development of business accelerators, eBay Inc. successfully provided funding for early-stage entrepreneurs resulting in the impact of 52,000 micro-entrepreneurs and 2.2 million individuals, according to the update.
Enabling greener commerce
eBay Inc.’s commitment to curb emissions and make its platform greener is marked by the momentum of more than doubling its on-site generation of cleaner energy. According to the update, eBay Inc. sourced 7.5 percent of its energy from cleaner sources in 2013. This included a new fuel cell installation for its Utah data center and purchasing 100 percent renewable power for its Utah customer service center, as well as its offices in Berlin and Dreilinden, Germany and Dublin, Ireland.
The company has also encouraged environmental responsibility by lowering the impact of its shipping operations, promoting the use of sustainable packaging materials and optimizing modes of transportation within its shipping networks.
Another significant outcome of eBay Inc.’s Social Innovation efforts last year was the creation of its first company-wide Supplier Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which requires suppliers to adhere to conduct that includes integrity in environmental, labor and human rights regulations.
Powering charitable giving
Last year, the company put forth aggressive efforts to increase the number of donors to take action, increase charitable funds and scale resources to support causes around the world. As a result, $4.9 billion was generated for charitable organizations through a variety of its giving programs and platforms in 2013 — a 32.4 percent increase over 2012.
Internally, eBay Inc’s goals are becoming intrinsic to the nature of its corporate culture. According to the report, 7,855 employees were engaged in at least one of the company’s social innovation programs. Employees were engaged in a variety of skills-based volunteer activities in addition to providing critical community needs such as tree planting, park cleanups and building homes for families in need.
“While I’m excited by our progress to date, I’m most proud of our approach—using our unique business model to make meaningful, lasting progress in areas and in ways that make sense given our specific resources and focus as a company. I’m beginning to see more companies start to move in this direction and I hope we can be an inspiration for even more to do the same,” says Moore.
Moving forward, eBay Inc. promises that it will not rest on its laurels. Specifically, as the “collaborative” or “sharing” economy movement picks up speed and reach, eBay Inc. is seeking to leverage technology to enable peer-to-peer commerce. Ultimately, the company hopes to scale a secure global marketplace and work with government to partner around new business models that bring social and environmental benefit. As eBay Inc. advances these pursuits, it plans to share best practices with the larger business community.
Learn more about eBay Inc’s approach to social innovation and their successes in 2013 by downloading its annual update here.
Image courtesy eBay, Inc.