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Upgrading citizenship to a whole new level

More by Hewlett-Packard - Back to the Summer 2015 issue

case study

In order to build a truly sustainable organisation, global companies these days acknowledge that the umbrella of their stakeholders extends further than ever before.

Chris Librie, senior director, strategy & communications, HP Living Progress, says that global citizenship has been part of HP’s DNA from the outset. “It was part of our foundational values,” he says. “However, it wasn’t totally embedded in the corporate strategy. In true Silicon Valley fashion, we were very decentralized. Sustainability was initiated by individuals and teams, but it wasn’t communicated coherently,” he explains.

A more focused approach came from CEO Meg Whitman who joined HP in 2011. “Sustainability and citizenship were very much her focus,” says Librie. “She viewed them as one of the company’s hidden assets.”

Whitman was charged with turning around the tech giant - growth had been stagnating and it had fallen behind other Silicon Valley players – and she recognised the value of making sustainability both front and centre at HP.

And that’s how Living Progress (LP) came about. “It is a way for HP to take a holistic approach to linking the triple bottom line ethos to its strategy, making sure sustainability is at its core,” says Librie.

By linking its products, services and how it does business, it effectively knits sustainability into the business model, says Librie.
LP works across the three triple bottom line pillars, People, Profit and Planet—what HP calls Human, Economic and Environmental Progress – often in synchronicity. Take HP’s development of its Moonshot servers for example. Compared to traditional servers they use up to 65% less power, 90% less space and 98% less cabling resulting in energy efficiency (Environmental), as well as enabling better access to data (Human)—all while changing the cost profile of the data center (Economic).

Instigating LP was a huge undertaking. “Building a comprehensive framework took time,” he says. “We then had to get the word out internally through webinars and training materials.”

One of the key messages was to demonstrate to employees how the layers of Living Progress drove the business globally, linking its technology directly with global issues. A good example of this is HP’s work with Conservation International (CI). HP engineers partnered with scientists at CI to develop HP Earth Insights, which uses hardware and software to store and analyze environmental data on the biodiversity of different geographies. The resulting ‘big data’ analysis provides scientists with an early warning system for threatened species, generating near-real time insights that enable proactive decision-making to help protect species and tropical forest health.

“There’s a lot of data with that kind of conservation programme,” explains Librie. “We designed a platform that turned those data into insights. The software transformed a process that usually took months, and turned it into hours. We were able to turbo charge their data! It was a great example of how our technology is helping conservation and really connects with employees.”

Another example of LP in action is in its Matter to a Million programme with Kiva, in which the HP Company Foundation gives every employee multiple $25 loan credits to support entrepreneurs with microloans on the Kiva platform. When a loan is repaid, the funds can be used to provide a loan to another entrepreneur—expanding impact well beyond the initial $7m investment from the HP Company Foundation. “It’s evergreen philanthropy,” explains Librie. “Many banded together to loan a greater amount. It’s one of most successful employee engagement progammes ever for us with well over 50% of employees getting involved.”

HP employees have so far made more than $9m in loans, already exceeding the initial funding by $2m in just the first two years of the five year program. The loans help farmers, teachers, doctors, and business owners grow their businesses and help their communities, and the numbers grow every day.

The Kiva project effectively drives economic progress as well as the human.

Librie is keen to point out that the pillars are only an organizing framework. “Many LP initiatives are cross-pillar. Yes, they may have their genesis in the environment say, but they also have impacts elsewhere.”

For example, Moonshot servers with their energy economies start off under the environment pillar but then also touch on the wider human and economic impacts associated with the benefits of big data.

“Our job is to solve the world’s toughest challenges and that’s an important part of LP,” says Librie. “I think marrying the three pillars to what we do is critical.”

HP is bringing LP to life in many different ways which helps to tell the story externally to stakeholders. “In supply chain we have an extensive programme of policies and activities to improve our standards for our workers and we’ve recently come out with industry-leading policies for migrant workers and student workers.”

HP was the first IT company to partner with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to engage its suppliers through the Health Enables Returns project (HERproject), a project which initially was health care focused but whose remit now extends to financial inclusion.

While such programmes are obviously the right things to do, they are also good for the immediate and long-term success of our business, says Librie. For example, HP factories that have implemented the HERproject in China have reported improvements in productivity and enthusiasm, as well as reduced absenteeism and turnover. Through a similar programme, one Bangladeshi factory saw a $3 return – through higher productivity, lower turnover and reduced absenteeism – for every $1 HP invested in women’s health.

There’s no denying that LP improves HP’s corporate reputation. Its plaudits from CDP, DJSI and FTSE4Good are testament to the fact.
Librie says that HP’s share price is only a blunt measure of LP’s success too. What counts, he says, is improved business results, creating innovation and the fact it differentiates HP in the marketplace: “We want to be a preferred supplier.”

In November, HP is splitting into two companies, HP Inc (at heart a B2C company focused on the company’s personal systems/products) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise which will focus on the B2B side of the business of data centres, consulting services and software.

Living Progress is going to live on at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, while HP Inc. will develop its own sustainability framework. However, says Librie, since both companies are deeply rooted in their founder’s DNA, sustainability will continue to be at the heart of both Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc.

For Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Living Progress will focus on the space and energy constraints threatening the current computing infrastructure. “The rallying cry for Enterprise is greater energy efficiency and for data to connect more people,” says Librie. “We must focus on meeting the data needs of the future—which drives human and economic progress—while protecting the natural resources of our planet to enable environmental progress.”

Indeed, the new corporate restructure will enable even greater momentum for Living Progress. “It’s difficult to imagine the data needs of our customers without thinking about sustainability. It reinforces the importance for us,” maintains Librie. 

more about Hewlett-Packard

HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society. With the broadest technology portfolio spanning printing, personal systems, software, services and IT infrastructure, HP delivers solutions for customers’ most complex challenges in every region of the world. Its integrated approach to business, HP Living Progress, balances human, economic and environmental impact. It’s how HP is creating a better future for everyone through its actions and innovations.
For more information about HP Living Progress, click here.

IBE comment

Hewlett-Packard’s Living Progress strategy seems to be an effective way of embedding sustainability throughout the organisation. Since CEO Meg Whitman joined HP in 2012 a more coherent approach to sustainability and citizenship, based on the belief that they were one of the company’s “hidden assets”, has been developed. The impact has been impressive with high levels of staff engagement, and external recognition from CDP, DJSI and FTSE4Good.

Points of note:
• By linking products and services with how it does its business, HP effectively knits sustainability into the business model
• The development of ‘Moonshoot Servers’ has had a significant impact on the triple bottom line of human, economic and environmental progress.
• HP’s ‘Matter to a Million’ programme with Kiva has been one of its most successful employee engagement programmes ever.

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