Monday, April 12, 2010

Wipro's Second Sustainability Report

Author:- P. S. Narayan

Wipro released its second sustainability report recently. The theme of the report ‘Thriving in a changing world’ underscores how a sustainability-centric way of thinking and acting is the only effective way to negotiate the multiple crises that face humanity – climate change, water stress, poverty and inequality, providing health and education for all.

Our report is based on the GRI framework, the most widely accepted standard. Based on a comprehensive and rigorous audit by an independent third party, our report is assessed at A+. On an A/B/C rating matrix, the ‘A’ rating represents the highest levels of disclosure. The GRI framework specifies 120 disclosure parameters starting with something as overarching as the company’s sustainability strategy and its materiality framework to more specifics like the company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or its employee attrition rates. To qualify for an ‘A’, a company needs to disclose at least 90 of the 120 parameters. The '+' sign indicates that the disclosures have been externally verified by a certified assurance provider. Our report covers 107 of the 120 disclosure indicators. This reflects two things: first, our willingness to disclose and second, our capability-readiness to be able to measure, analyze and report such a wide range of disparate data.

So, what’s the big deal about sustainability reporting and how is it different from financial reporting? To start with, sustainability reporting – aka Triple Bottom Line reporting or Triple P reporting (People, Planet and Profits) – is entirely voluntary and is not mandated by regulatory statutes. Companies who report on sustainability do so because they believe in it, not because they have to. While financial reporting is addressed towards the company’s shareholders, sustainability reporting addresses multiple stakeholders, not all of who may have a direct engagement with the company. For example, Wipro’s identified sustainability stakeholders are its Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Investors, Future Generations, Proximate Communities, the School Education Network, Civil Society and Government. The third crucial point of difference is in the underlying spirit – a sustainability report speaks of both, the positives and the negatives of a company in a transparent, unambiguous manner. Such holding of a mirror to oneself serves as the prime driver of transformational change in the company’s commitment to sustainability.

What does Wipro’s sustainability report talk about? From the 107 points of disclosure, here are a few highlights:

In the last two years, we have made great strides in building our capabilities on measuring our internal carbon footprint accurately enough. We think that the margin of error in our reported carbon emissions of 372,000 metric tons of GHG (for India IT operations) is not more than 5%. This has enabled us to define detailed GHG reduction goals for the next 5 years. Our goal of reducing our GHG intensity for Wipro Corporation to 2.5 tons per employee is ambitious but do-able.

While Spirit of Wipro has always reflected Wipro’s inclusive culture, our commitment to workforce diversity has been anchored through a formal corporation-wide program. The report talks at length about our gender diversity program , ‘Women of Wipro’.

It may not be known to many outside India that Wipro has a visible presence in IT hardware in the Indian market. It is probably known to even fewer that Wipro’s Green PC is rated the No: 2 Green Electronics brand globally, based on a rigorous assessment by Greenpeace. Wipro’s Green PC is a great example of everything that an environmentally responsible product should be – 100% RoHS compliant, Energy Star rating 5 and an extensive take-back program for end-of-life (EOL) models.

Our commitment to school education is now a decade old, mature and multi-dimensional. Our strength is the collaborative style of engagement with nearly 30 partners spread across the country. The recently launched Mission10X program is different in that it focuses on the quality of engineering education with the end goal of making graduates from Indian engineering institutions more well-rounded and employable.

What we are really proud of in our second sustainability report is something that is unique, creative and not normally to be found in company reports of any kind; it is a collection of 28 breathtaking stories on outstanding ecological practices from around the world. These stories – researched and compiled by our own employees – illustrate the power of the community and the individual, fired by passion and a vision of a better world. Some of these stories may be familiar to you, some may not – the community of Bishnois in Rajasthan, India who have a long history of protecting trees and animals, even at the cost of their lives; the Brazilian city of Curitiba and its hugely successful bus rapid transit system; the German suburb of Freiburg which practices car-free living, a modern wonder indeed; or the sterling efforts of Muhammad Dilawar to save the house sparrow in the city of Nasik, India.

These stories powerfully illustrate that sustainability is not a fuddy-duddy topic fit only for seminars and classrooms or the all-time favorite of idealistic green activists who know little about ground realities; stories like these inspire us to execute that vital leap of faith from thinking to acting.

So much for my first blog post on Wipro’s second sustainability report. In subsequent posts, I will move to the broader subject of sustainability and business, whether there is an inherent conflict between the two worlds and concrete case studies of how the divide between the two has been bridged. I do hope that you enjoy reading our sustainability report, which you can download at
Look forward to hearing your views and comments.