CSR: a strategic decision for IT and telecoms

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is identified as one of this decade's major trends in terms of business transformation, according to GlobalData, 2020. Therefore, it is natural that it is selected as a criterion for partners and suppliers in this post COVID-19 era.

Companies’ CSR goals usually break down into environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG). While some of these goals correspond to legal and regulatory requirements, many companies are committing with much greater ambition and making them standard practices to set themselves apart in their respective markets and from their competition. In this context, it’s essential that their partners and suppliers be compliant, if not exemplary, in terms of CSR.

Expectations in terms of support and innovation around CSR challenges

Naturally, companies expect compliance with environmental or social regulations, as well as support and even innovation to address CSR challenges.

  • Compliance

Although the frameworks used are developing and becoming more structured, in particular around the ISO 26000 standard, they are supplemented by global initiatives such as CDP1 and SBTi2 in terms of reducing carbon footprint or assessments by non-financial agencies like Ecovadis, Vigeo Eiris or Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Companies are making them criteria for the assessment of their suppliers, and even for elimination.

  • Consulting

Beyond these normative and regulatory aspects, large companies expect consulting services surrounding decarbonization: carbon audit, decarbonization roadmap and prioritization of high-impact initiatives. They also want value proposals relating to activities that will significantly contribute to energy efficiency. These include solutions surrounding office energy management, remote working and digital infrastructure.

  • Innovations

For the challenges that have not yet been resolved, the capacity to innovate around CSR issues is a key asset, for example in terms of carbon sequestration and offsetting for industry.

These services are at the crossroads of innovation, business knowledge and decarbonization expertise. Orange Business has combined this know-how in an Orange Design Experience for CSR offering.

  • Discussion

In order to address the challenges surrounding corporate social responsibility, companies are also trying to exchange ideas on a voluntary and non-commercial basis by sharing best practices, for example in terms of employee commitment, diversity and inclusion.

Carbon neutrality at the heart of companies’ ambitions

Digital technology accounts for 3.5% of carbon emissions, but it can also significantly influence and multiply the uses that it supports. Therefore, corporations are paying special attention to it.

Our clients’ most frequent expectations include:

  • Goals and action plans related to decarbonization, as well as emission averages for each product or service unit or expressed as an amount per employee
  • The capacity to offer electricity consumption tracking indicators for each service and to use renewable energy in the mix
  • The capacity to structure commitments and actions in a program

Orange Business has defined its Green Act program in order to demonstrate its position as an innovative and ambitious partner in terms of corporate social responsibility.

Preparing the future with digital eco-design

Companies are attentive to the integration of different aspects of sustainability throughout the life cycle of digital services and expect their suppliers to take the circular economy into account in the equipment’s end-of-life-cycle process. In terms of software developments, web eco-design is an emerging domain, which brings together a community of over 80 organizations that are active within the Responsible Digital Design Collective.

To respond to this need, Orange Business offers a framework and assistance in designing sustainable digital applications.

The Green Act Program

The social and good governance aspect as a prerequisite for an integrated CSR approach

In public tenders in France, like in other countries, a social clause sets the conditions for the execution or allocation of a contract based on criteria relating to employment or the fight against exclusion. These procedures distinguish between two types of population: people who have difficulty accessing the labor market and young people dropping out of school. The integration clause is very often expressed in numbers of hours or calculated based on a percentage of the total number of hours planned by the bidder.

Beyond these legal obligations, companies are committed to diversity and inclusion through their CSR strategies. For example, Mastercard has set itself the ambition to promote the economic development of black communities. Orange has committed to promoting all forms of diversity across all its activities as a source of performance and innovation for the company. The Group has launched the "Hello Women" program in all the countries where it is present. The aim of this program is to raise young girls' awareness of technical and digital professions and help the recruitment of female students and to support them throughout their careers.

Like decarbonization initiatives, diversity and inclusion policies have a positive impact on employee retention, their motivation and, more broadly, the region or community where the company operates. Through these, we see an alignment of values, and they facilitate the development of relationships around human and environmental challenges.

Catherine Freiberg
Catherine Freiberg

At Orange since 2007, I have been in charge of strategic programs for Europe since 2019. CSR topics, innovation and strategy are at the heart of my concerns.