Submit Content
Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

2019 CSE Research Finds Silicon Valley Geniuses Are Sustainability Dullards

CSE Research shows highest concentration of tech companies provides lowest sustainability leadership.

Published 09-23-19

Submitted by Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

The Center for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) announces its 2019 research into the state of Sustainability Strategy and Reporting in North America.  This year’s research, Sustainability Reporting Trends in Silicon Valley 2019, is a follow-up to CSE’s 2016 research.  Except for certain large multi-nationals, the report finds limited sustainability leadership from the world’s largest concentration of tech companies.

CSE’s 2019 research provides an analysis of the current state of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting by Silicon Valley based companies. Of the companies analyzed in 2019, 60% have a sustainability report, up from 29% in 2016.  CSE’s 2016 report found Silicon Valley did not include sustainability as a key to corporate strategy despite dominance by purpose-driven Millennials and belief in technology’s ability to address global challenges,

This year’s research found that 37% of companies analyzed reported climate change performance.  23% included reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ranging from a simple statement of support to a full integration.  22% have been externally assured, significantly increasing reporting accuracy and credibility, key for investors and ESG  ratings.

Only 23% of all companies in the study displayed a sustainability strategy that involves all the main focus areas deemed critical to their impact: Community, Environment, Ethics, Employees, Supply Chain and Philanthropy.  Among all companies, Environment and Ethics were the most reported focus areas .

Of the companies analyzed, 98% have an ESG (environment, social, governance) ratings profile, which shows the importance of ratings to sustainability strategy and approach.  In 2016, most VCs looking to finance the Next Big Thing were not using sustainability metrics in their analysis.  With the rise of ratings agencies, the use of sustainability due diligence has increased significantly, and companies are taking notice. Beyond the improvements, Silicon Valley still lags significantly behind the national average of women in the workforce and in setting up comprehensive Sustainability Strategies for reducing carbon and addressing social challenges.

From a technology perspective, Blockchain applications promise to address reduced environmental impact and better assurance of human rights and fair work practices. While there are many possible applications for AI (artificial intelligence) in sustainability, there are many risks associated with bias, poor decision making, low transparency, job losses and malevolent use.

Overall, CSE’s research indicates that Silicon Valley has made some improvement in sustainability strategy and impacts over the past three reporting cycles.  Despite improvement, much work remains to raise the region to national averages compared to CSE’s latest research findings on Sustainability Status of North America.

CSE’s findings will be presented during its Certified Sustainability Practitioner Programs, Advanced Edition, throughout North America.  Visit www.cse-net.org to download the report.  For more information contact sustainability@cse-net.org.

Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE) Logo

Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

CSE is a global Leading network providing Sustainable Development Solutions to organizations & a Think Tank with offices in Brussels Athens & Dubai. CSE cooperates with international organisations, such as the EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management), GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), UN Global Compact (United Nations Global Compact), EBEN (European Business Ethics Network), Forum for International Communications and the European Commission. CSE supports, on their journey towards sustainability, leading organizations such as Lloyds TSB, Eurocontrol, Dell, BP, DHL, Lafarge (Aget Heracles), Mc Cain, Bank of Cyprus and many others including the European Investment Bank, the largest financial Investment Institution of the European Union and the Government of Dubai (Dubai Center for Corporate Values ,DIFC, TECOM, DAFZA). The global presence of CSE is enhanced by numerous activities carried out in many countries/regions including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Russia, China and the Middle East.

More from Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE)

Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox