In the two decades that Intel has been releasing environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports, the CSR reporting landscape has changed dramatically. Once a topic reserved for specialists, today 85% of S&P 500 companies1 regularly publish CSR reports and many reporters cover CSR for major media organizations.
Today, Intel released its latest CSR report, highlighting the progress made over the past year toward our 2020 goals. But do these reports really matter?
We at Intel think they do – more than ever, in fact – because of how important they are to our stakeholders, including investors, customers and employees. These groups demand more accountability than ever, and companies have an obligation to be transparent with them.
Investors are increasingly focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. From 2016 to 2018, sustainable investment assets – including portfolios screened for ESG issues, investors integrating ESG factors into their investment and/or engaging in shareholder advocacy activities – grew 38 percent in the U.S. As of 2018, such assets totaled $12 trillion, accounting for $1 of every $4 under professional management.2 This increase is largely driven by mainstream investors integrating ESG issues into their strategies.
At Intel, we have expanded our year-round outreach to investors on ESG issues to obtain regular feedback on our reporting and performance. In response, we aligned our reporting to new external frameworks used most by investors, further increased integration across our annual report/10-K, proxy statement and corporate responsibility report and expanded disclosure on how our approach affects our financial results. For example, since 2012 we have invested more than $200 million in energy conservation projects in our global operations, resulting in more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours conserved and approximately $500 million saved through the end of 2018.
More companies are driving responsibility programs throughout their global supply chains and looking for improved data to help them evaluate supplier performance. Intel’s major customers are other large global companies that have their own commitments to corporate responsibility and sustainability, including formal supplier expectations. Our report helps them quantify their indirect environmental footprint and better understand how possible labor risks are assessed in the extended supply chain. We earned a leadership score in CDP’s 2018 Supplier Engagement Rating for our work to encourage improved climate and water reporting by our suppliers. We also made significant progress toward our goal to restore 100 percent of our global water use by 2025, and we’re on track to achieve our 2020 water-use reduction goal. Also, as a result of our work to prevent forced and bonded labor in our supply chain, our suppliers have returned over $14 million in fees to workers since 2014.
Research indicates that an employer’s corporate responsibility reputation and programs are often very important to employees. Intel’s success depends on our ability to attract and retain top talent by making Intel an employer of choice and fostering a strong and inclusive culture. In 2018, we reached full representation in our U.S. workforce, two years ahead of our original goal. And in early 2019, Intel achieved global gender pay equity. Eighty-five percent of our employees surveyed reported that Intel’s corporate responsibility efforts contribute to their pride in the company. And our employees are more involved in their communities than ever, with 68,000 employees volunteering 1.5 million hours last year.
For CSR reporting to serve our investors, customers and employees well, we must get the right data to the right audiences at the right time. This requires use of technology to enable real-time data collection, insights and reporting, and it requires processes such as independent report assurance, to improve data quality, reliability and comparability. It requires further integration with financial reporting teams to ensure alignment to the business and relevance to investors. And, most importantly, it requires ongoing conversations with stakeholders as their needs evolve.
Intel’s leaders believe in the value of transparency to our key stakeholders, and these reports are a critical part of that transparency. As we work toward our next generation of corporate responsibility and sustainability goals, we will continue to work to make our CSR reporting better, timelier and more useful, and we hope that others companies do the same.
Suzanne Fallender is director of Corporate Responsibility at Intel Corporation.
1 Governance and Accountability Institute
2 US SIF Foundation, Report on U.S. Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing Trends 2018.