A new Economist Intelligence Unit study, "Sustainability Across Borders" explores leading organizations' preferences for addressing sustainability through global or regional approaches. Sponsored by business analytics leader SAS, the research was based on an online survey of 226 senior executives worldwide and interviews with companies including Cisco, HSBC, Lenovo, Vodafone and World Wildlife Fund. "Global companies are taking corporate social responsibility seriously and improving performance tracking and reporting," said Alyssa Farrell, marketing manager for sustainability solutions at SAS, in a press release. "As we transition from voluntary to mandatory emissions reductions, the question becomes, 'How do we integrate sustainability with global operations?'" she noted in the release. Findings suggest that aligning sustainability governance with financial forces that affect revenues may be the answer.
The research identifies a trend toward globally focused sustainability programs. Sixty percent of companies currently emphasizing regional sustainability management reported plans to incorporate a global view. However, according to a Cisco case study in the report, even a global vision must first address local realities to succeed. Unique challenges for acceptance and implementation with each approach lead to different perceptions of success and competitive advantage. Cisco, which recently set a corporate goal of reducing absolute worldwide greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2012, has signed a multi-year agreement to expand their use of SAS for Sustainability Management globally. In addition to helping meet their own carbon reduction goals, Cisco expects customers to benefit greatly through an enhanced ability to model and predict energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
"Cisco is working with SAS to deploy a model of 21st-century, network-based environmental accounting and analytics," said Laura Ipsen, co-chair of Cisco's EcoBoard and senior vice president of Cisco global policy and government affairs, in the release. "This intelligent, Internet protocol-enabled system will allow us to better monitor and manage our greenhouse gas emissions around the world. It will also enable us to demonstrate to customers how networking technology can help them meet their own environmental and operational goals, especially as organizations strive to maximize the value of their IT investment," she added.