On the road to CSR improvement

So, I’m sitting here, up way too late in a hotel room in Boston, listening to the jack hammering on the street right outside my window. Figured that I should try to make some use of my inability to sleep, and get in a quick blog post on why I’m even out here in the first place.

Each year for the past ten or so years, members of Intel’s CSR team, together with colleagues in our EHS and Investor Relations departments hit the road to travel to DC, New York and Boston to meet face to face with socially responsible investment and ESG research firms to get input on our CSR strategy, environmental performance, and business objectives. Although we do engage with these groups throughout the year over the phone, online and at conferences like SRI in the Rockies, setting aside one week each year to meet face to face and have more in-depth discussions has been extremely valuable. We discuss emerging CSR issues and areas where we still need to improve, hear directly from these firms what their priorities are for the coming year, and learn where they would like to see us to take more action or be more transparent in our reporting. The timing is such that we can incorporate this feedback into our annual strategic planning and budgeting process for the coming year.

When I look back at some of the changes we’ve made in recent years to our CSR and sustainability practices – I can trace them back to specific recommendations that came out of these meetings. For example, we expanded our disclosure on water use in our 2008 CSR report – reporting not only our global water use, but also water use by major Intel site in response to discussion we had in our Boston meeting last fall. In another example, multiple analysts from the meetings said that they and their clients were placing a higher priority on human rights policies and management systems. They didn’t feel that Intel was being clear enough in our disclosure and policies – so we worked in the first part of this year to develop a new set of Human Rights Principles to clarify our expectations for all Intel employees in this area. And we adopted “say on pay” as a result of continued discussions and recommendations in last year’s meetings, providing our stockholders the opportunity to vote on our executive compensation practices.

Now, it’s not always easy (on either side I imagine) to discuss some of the more difficult topics or provide/receive really direct feedback. It can be personally uncomfortable no matter how constructive a relationship you have. In many cases, there are grey areas, or we may not be as far along or moving as fast as these firms would like us to be on certain issues. But the one thing I know for sure is that we wouldn’t be at the point we are in our CSR development today without the input of these organizations over the past decade. They continue to push us to become a better company.

With two days down and one day to go, I’ve already got a list of recommendations and questions we’re going to take back to discuss with others within Intel. So, what else should we include from you? What are your own personal CSR recommendations for Intel for the coming year?

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About Suzanne Fallender

Suzanne Fallender is Intel’s Director of Corporate Responsibility. In this role, she collaborates with key stakeholders across the company to integrate corporate responsibility concepts into company strategies, policies, public reporting, and stakeholder engagement activities to advance Intel’s corporate responsibility leadership and create positive social impact and business value. Suzanne leads a team of experienced professionals who engage with internal and external groups to review Intel’s corporate responsibility performance and to identify new opportunities to apply Intel’s technology and expertise to address social and environmental challenges. The team also works closely with Intel’s investor relations and corporate governance groups to drive an integrated outreach strategy with investors on governance and corporate responsibility issues. Suzanne has more than 20 years of experience in the field of corporate responsibility and socially responsible investment. During her time at Intel, Suzanne has held a number of corporate responsibility-related roles, including leading programs empowering girls and women through technology. Prior to Intel, Suzanne served as Vice President at Institutional Shareholder Services where she managed the firm’s socially responsible investing division. Suzanne holds an M.B.A. from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She has served on a number of leading industry advisory boards and committees on sustainability and corporate responsibility over the past decade and currently is a member of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Executive Forum and the Net Impact Advisory Council. Follow Suzanne on Twitter at @sfallender.