The Sustainability Leadership List 2012: How Do Telecom and Energy Brands Rank?

If you follow BIZPHX on Twitter and Facebook, you know that we often provide links to relevant news articles that impact our world of quality management.  In particular, we follow trends in TL 9000, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and corporate sustainability.  We recently provided a link to this study featured on one of our favorite blogs,

Each year, the results of The Sustainability Leaders — a GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey of sustainability experts is released.  This survey includes corporate, government, NGO, academic, research and service organizations in 75+ countries.  The 2012 survey results were released this month.

The survey poll asked respondents to name up to three companies that they consider to be leaders in integrating sustainability into their business strategy.

The top ten brands (in order) for 2012 are:  Unilever, Interface, GE, Patagonia, Walmart, Marks & Spencer, Natura, Nike, Novo Nordisk, Siemens, Toyota, IBM and Nestle.

This survey is often criticized for a variety of reasons ranging from a popularity contest to basing the rankings on a single metric.  Some have trouble reconciling results with what other sustainability rankings show.  The very nature of The Sustainability Leaders Survey is competitive.  Respondents have to pick one or just a few companies who they think are top performers above others.

However, two points are always proven to be clear:

  • Companies remain concerned and driven to advance sustainability objectives, whether by intelligent business design or due to consumer demand or government regulation.  This trend is advancing not reversing.
  • The leaders have clearly defined messaging which they integrate into their business strategy.  Their plans are concise, focused, transparent and easy to communicate to stakeholders and employees.  They are able to leverage their brand’s awareness as a result.

What then, does it take to crack the top-ten most frequently named leadership companies in the poll?  It’s not quite that simplistic and we encourage you to read the article and survey presentation in its entirety.  You can also access a podcast interview with executives from GlobeScan, Unilver and Patagonia at 2degrees network.

Unilever ranked #1 is a consumer goods giant and on the list are big pharma, automotive, food and retail conglomerates.  For the purpose of our article we are more focused on the industries represented and the gap that exists in the telecom and energy sectors.  Specific to telecom, what can we do to drive our TL 9000 and ISO 14001 quality management systems to tackle the elusive business challenge of corporate sustainability?  These are not buzzwords anymore.  They are critical business realities in a global economy.

Siemens is as close as it gets in 2012.  This Munich, Germany based multinational corporation is the largest European-based electronics and electrical engineering company.  While they have an IT Solutions division, they are not focused solely in the ICT sector.  There is no telecom leader on this list.

However, let’s take some pointers from Siemens.  Their goals are clearly defined and their objectives are driven at the employee level, which we know propels any successful QMS.  Visit the sustainability section of their website, which is very easy to find on their main landing page.  Also watch the brief video presentation from Barbara Kux, their CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer).

ICT and telecom industries touch so many aspects of our personal and business lives.  As business operators in this space, we must learn from the leaders on this list and raise our own sustainability goals.  More importantly, we need to articulate objectives in a way that resonate with our consumer public and employees.

In terms of quality management, we should look for ways to integrate these goals within the scope of our ISO 9001, TL 9000 and ISO 14001 frameworks to drive continual improvement in these areas. Specific to TL 9000, we have the ability define measurable outcomes and track them against benchmarking data.  It’s then more likely; we’ll see a telecom leader on a future list!

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