As I was talking with an investor the other day talk about his system of evaluating a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, it occurred to me how familiar that discussion was becoming.
Lately, I’ve found myself weighing in on projects and responding to requests I never could have imagined when we launched AT&T’s centralized corporate citizenship and sustainability organization. That was just over a decade ago, but – it probably goes without saying – we were then operating in a very different corporate environment.
Now, more than ever, customers, employees, policymakers, investors, and companies share a common goal of improving the health and future of our communities. We are encouraging each other to higher standards of caring for our environment, helping ensure opportunities for future generations, and operating with integrity in all that we do. At AT&T, our mission as a modern media company is to inspire human progress through the power of communication and entertainment. I believe that mission is most evident in the work we do daily to improve the lives of people where we live and work.
This year, our Corporate Responsibility Summary outlines our response to seven of the ESG issues that are most pressing for customers, employees, investors, and policymakers. You can read the full report on our website, but I want to share my thoughts here on two of the seven.
The Skills Gap
Much has been said about the skills gap in the U.S. The job market is evolving as quickly as technology is advancing. To keep pace and remain competitive, businesses are doing more to train, attract, and retain top talent. At the same time, students – young and old – are seeking opportunities to gain job-ready skills. At the center of this rapid change is technology. It is making it easier for everyone – regardless of age, gender, income, or geography – to learn anytime, anywhere.
We have a long history at AT&T of skilling our workforce for the jobs of the future. We invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year to do so. We know that engaging and reskilling our workforce is the right thing to do for many reasons – not the least of which is providing those who have helped build this great company an opportunity to grow with us as we transform into a modern media company. As AT&T continues to evolve, we’ll do so with a culture of continuous learning.
We also work to equip the next generation with the creativity, curiosity, and skills needed to succeed in high school, post-secondary education, and in future careers. In 2018, as part of our commitment to positively impact student success in the U.S. and internationally, we celebrated 10 years focused on education through our AT&T Aspire and ESCUELA+ initiatives. One of the most gratifying impacts of our work is watching underserved, underrepresented students become inspired to be data engineers, writers, filmmakers, and business leaders. We want all students, regardless of zip code, to have the skills they need to lead the in the digital global economy.
Once again, the 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report shows that global business and thought leaders have climate change-related events at the top of their lists. Those leaders cite extreme weather and climate-change policy failures as the gravest threats facing the world.
At AT&T, we’re working to transform the way we care for our world. Our annual summary shows our work in 2018, including:
Verifying carbon savings 2 times our operational footprint, which puts us well on our way to our 2025 goal of 10 times and makes us an energy net positive company.
Achieving our goal to reduce Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions 20% from a 2008 baseline – 3 years ahead of schedule.
And helping to divert waste from landfills with a goal of achieving zero waste at 100 AT&T facilities – including our corporate headquarters – by the end of 2020.
And, in 2019, we announced our Climate Change Analysis Tool. Working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, we are now able to better anticipate, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change up to 30 years in advance. It was the first such project publicly announced in the telecommunications industry.
Our commitment to human progress drives our entire business toward innovations like those found in IoT For Good, and toward practices that advance diversity, inclusion, human rights, and protect our customers’ privacy. Our purpose is embedded in all levels of our company to ensure we are improving the lives of our customers, employees, and other stakeholders, and creating opportunities for the next generation. Each year I look forward to issuing our annual summary because it’s an opportunity to engage with those interested in learning more.
It’s also a great chance to hear more about what others are doing in this space. If you have thoughts, please offer up your comments below. What strategies and/or initiatives have you developed around these issues? How are you collaborating across your company to make a meaningful impact?
Author: Charlene Lake
Chief Sustainability Officer