Tech & The District » Societal Influence Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Tech Sector Making a Societal Impact Wed, 19 Nov 2008 16:25:00 +0000 Andrew Cuneo Some of the most prominent initiatives companies are implementing, particularly in the tech sector, can have a major societal impact.

Originally thought of as a “nice to have” for most companies environmental responsibility policies are going mainstream, and more corporations are beginning to invest in them. Why? Because these initiatives can be influential for two very important audiences: internal and external.

What I find most interesting is how some companies frame their environmental policies. For example, Google last month unveiled a $4.4 trillion plan that aims to end U.S. dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation. Everyone is talking about energy these days, even President-elect Barack Obama. So, on the surface, it makes sense that Google would jump on this very relevant bandwagon. However, digging a bit deeper, we see other fundamental reasons why Google might focus on energy. Google is the largest consumer of energy in the world. By investing in a program to reduce fossil fuels, Google is able to balance both its core business objectives of reducing cost and increasing profit, and the desire to be a good corporate citizen. Part of Microsoft’s environmental campaign has centered around the environment as well. The company has also posted a climate change policy statement as well. Some of the programs Yahoo! has implemented include a commuter program for its employees, local green initiatives in the community and an established green team (such as the one launching this week at H&K!)

Cisco Systems is another company with a fairly extensive environmental program. While some of its competitors, such as Juniper Networks, continue to build their programs, Cisco has taken an important step towards being a more environmentally-friendly company by developing more energy efficient technology and reducing waste of its discarded products. I also like Verizon’s policy which encourages employee engagement in its environmental programs from the CEO all the way down, which could really boost morale within the company.

Starbucks is taking a similar approach to Google in its desire to preserve natural resources. We’ve talked about how much energy Google consumes; now think about how much water Starbucks consumes in a day. The company has therefore focused on implementing a clean water program to provide fresh drinking water to underdeveloped countries, and partners with NGOs, such as Conservation International.

What companies do you feel are developing the best environmental policies? Is it vital for companies to engage in these programs in order to be successful? Will President Obama’s new energy policies, once fully developed, force companies to make changes to their current environmental plans?

Either way, this space is one that bears watching in the near future!

*Hill & Knowlton works with Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cisco, Starbucks and Verizon in some parts of the world.

]]> 0