- Responsible business approach strengthened within human rights and sales compliance, responsible sourcing and anti-corruption
- Improvements in the company’s activities and products with regard to energy, environment and climate change: Psi coverage solution and Radio Dot System are two innovative products improving coverage with reduced energy footprint
- Milestones for Technology for Good programs: First wave of Connect To Learn students graduate in 2013 and refugee connection platform extended to address Syrian refugee crisis
Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) has published its 21st Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility report summarizing its performance during 2013. Highlights include: a solidified approach to responsible business including rigorous compliance processes; energy efficient solutions from the company’s product portfolio; and extended reach in providing access to communication for all, including refugees and students in remote areas.
As a lead telecom partner in the Millennium Villages project, Ericsson began a long-term commitment to demonstrate that connectivity could play a decisive role in fighting poverty in Africa. Since joining the initiative in 2007 mobile connectivity has been brought to more than 500,000 people in 12 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, improving access to health education and boosting livelihoods, among other benefits.
Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson, says: “Sustainability is increasingly integrated into our business strategy. I firmly believe that our commitment to sustainability and CR enhances our competitiveness, and the actions we take today will enable positive business outcomes in the future.”
From the perspective of responsible business, Ericsson is the first in the industry to conduct a full human rights impact assessment in line with the new United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The assessment in Myanmar resulted in prioritized action areas but also helped to create a solid foundation that is now operational with recently-won business in the country.
In light of recent international developments related to Iran, Ericsson has decided not to phase out business there. The intention is to engage with existing customers while evaluating the human rights situation. The Sales Compliance Board decided to conduct a new Human Rights Impact Assessment based on this foundation.
The emphasis on conducting business responsibly takes a full value chain perspective. It begins with supply chain and extends through Ericsson’s own operations including the sales process, where the sales compliance board examined more than 200 cases during 2013.
The anti-corruption program is in focus and some 85,000 employees have taken a training course outlining the company’s policies and standards.
Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility says: “This area continues to gain importance to all our stakeholders and we are focused on building a strong foundation for corporate responsibility within the company. This does not mean incidents can never happen, but it means when they do, we have strong operational processes in place to handle them.”In energy and environment, Ericsson reports improvements in its own activities and products in operation. Ericsson set a target to reduce CO2e emissions by 30% per employee by 2017. The full-year reduction for 2013 was 10% per employee.
Examples from the portfolio include the Ericsson Psi Coverage Solution, introduced last year, and Ericsson Radio Dot System. Psi Coverage Solution uses a single radio unit to provide the same 3G coverage as an ordinary base station equipped with three radio units. Psi Coverage Solution has been deployed across 11 markets during 2013 and has proven to reduce power consumption by 40%. Ericsson Radio Dot System, which revolutionizes indoor coverage, reduces power requirements by more than 50% compared to traditional Distributed Antenna Systems, and prolongs battery life of end-user devices used in enterprise environments.
Technology for Good programs, which aim to increase access and affordability to communications, have reported significant progress in 2013.
Connect To Learn has expanded steadily to positively impact some 40,000 students in 14 countries. In 2013 Ericsson focused on establishing a baseline for measuring impacts, and published the report called ICT in Education.
Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa: “Education is a cornerstone for reducing poverty, enabling development, and fostering better lives. By deploying mobile broadband and cloud solutions, combined with hands-on training in ICT, students from Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and Senegal, as well as Ethiopia and Rwanda have been able to access quality education resources enabled by our cloud-based solutions.
Another program aims to assist in the global refugee crisis, which affects 42 million people according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. At the end of 2013 there were 250,000 people registered on the Refugees United mobile platform that helps refugees search and find each other. In response to the current humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring countries, Ericsson recently announced the launch of the service together with three mobile operators: Zain in Jordan, Avea in Turkey, and Asiacell in Iraq.
During the year, Ericsson, Facebook and a number of other tech giants took a step closer to realizing the benefits of mobile communication through the announcement of a global initiative called Internet.org.
Ericsson has set an objective to positively impact 2.5 million people directly through our Technology for Good initiatives by 2016.
Weidman-Grunewald concludes: “At the end of the day a sustainability report is only a snapshot of performance. It will fall short without the people, processes and governance behind it. Building the robustness of our programs has been a big focus for us in 2013, in all areas of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility.”