Summer Is a Time for Sustainability at Syniverse

Filed in Corporate Social Responsibility by on August 13, 2014 0 Comments

Times are certainly changing. In just the last decade, the importance of sustainability has taken the business world by storm. Yet while more and more companies are jumping on the “sustainability bandwagon,” many are finding out that it’s not a wagon at all, but a necessary mindset for future business success. Designing and implementing a thorough sustainability strategy has become critical for businesses to be leaders and responsible corporate citizens in the 21st century.

As an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellow, I spent this summer working on Syniverse’s corporate sustainability program to identify strategic areas for future actions that can have great impact for both the business and its stakeholders. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps taps the talents of tomorrow’s aspiring leaders by placing graduate students in summer fellowships at companies, schools and governments to help these organizations save energy, money and environmental consumption. In this role, I built on the work of two of my predecessors, who focused on Syniverse’s global 2015 carbon reduction goals and energy efficiency efforts, and I conducted a materiality assessment to gauge internal perspectives on relevant issues at Syniverse.

Krohn-Building2Me at Syniverse’s Tampa headquarters building.

“Materiality” started as an accounting term and now is used in the area of sustainability to refer to issues or information that can be considered important for reflecting an organization’s economic, environmental and social impact, or for influencing the decisions of stakeholders. As sustainability becomes more integrated into companies’ DNA and intertwined with financial performance, environmental, social and governance issues will increasingly be considered material to companies’ ability to succeed.

Using information from Syniverse’s stakeholders, this summer I was able to help highlight sustainability issues that have the most impact on business operations and help devise a program to act on these issues. One of our major efforts was conducting a company-wide survey, for which we asked both senior executives and global employees how critical they think that different sustainability issues are to Syniverse’s operations. We also assessed the culture of sustainability at Syniverse so that we could design programs that fit within the organizational mindset and therefore be the most effective.

Our accomplishments so far are that we came up with an easy and low-cost way to remind users to shut down their PCs at the end of the day. Given the size of Syniverse’s workforce, such a small action can have a huge impact. In the Tampa headquarters office, for example, this practice can save over 757,120 kilowatt hours – or approximately $68,000 – annually. Syniverse is now working on the implementation of the system to make it feasible for all its global offices.

We also found that opportunities for increasing access to telecommunication services in underserved parts of the world represent a strategic area of value that can be critical to Syniverse’s business operations because it allows the company to expand its customer base while providing a social benefit. The next step from this finding is to further identify opportunities to form strategic partnerships with governments and other groups that focus on strengthening telecom infrastructure in remote and underdeveloped areas.

For me personally, this summer was incredibly rewarding. I got to know the ins and outs of Syniverse’s business and culture, and I was able to help analyze and possibly strengthen the company’s sustainability program. The single most rewarding part was finally collecting the survey’s results and seeing that a strong majority of employees – 68 percent – think that everyone at all levels of the company can and should take the lead on sustainability initiatives.

This broad enthusiasm for sustainability is why I went into the field in the first place: to build momentum behind an issue that I know people care about, and find ways for businesses to match the passion of their employees to instigate progress on environmental and social goals. Knowing that a majority of employees believe in what I’m working toward and are willing to pitch in to help Syniverse achieve its goals was confirmation that the work I’m doing is important and meaningful.

How big is the sustainability at your company? How big do you think it will become in the next 10 years? I would love to get your thoughts.

 

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Meaghan Krohn served as Syniverse’s 2014 Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps summer fellow. EDF Climate Corps places graduate students in summer fellowships at organizations to help companies, governments and nonprofit groups save energy and money, and reduce environmental consumption. During her 11 weeks at Syniverse, Meaghan focused on how internal stakeholders perceive sustainability issues’ relevance to the business in efforts to strengthen the company’s existing corporate carbon-reduction and sustainability strategies. Prior to her summer at Syniverse, Meaghan worked with the sustainability consulting firm Context America in New York City and environmental nonprofits Global Action Plan in London and Greenpeace in Toronto. She holds a Master of Science in environmental policy and regulation from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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