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Sustainability reporting in tech companies – the hardware vs software divide

Nature's fragility

Photo credit Koshyk

I wrote (and subsequently updated) a post a few weeks ago reviewing the Sustainability Reports of various companies in the technology space.

I updated the review again this afternoon (see the updated review below) with the 2009 reports from IBM, Adobe and SAS.

Something which struck me previously, and which hasn’t changed with the new rankings, is the yawning chasm in attitudes to sustainability reporting between hardware versus software companies.

Obviously this divide has a lot to do with risk – hardware companies who have significant manufacturing facilities, with massively complex supply chains, often containing toxic substances have far more exposure to risk than software companies.

This is reflected in the table below where eight of the top ten listings are hardware companies.

On the other hand, the bottom of the table is all software companies (with the exception of Apple – because they refuse to produce a sustainability report!).

The real odd one out though is the leader, SAP. Their sustainability reporting is out on its own. It is way ahead of any other organisation I have come across and this despite the fact that they are a software company!

One factor may be that they have a significantly European representation in senior management – they have a very different thought process when it comes to sustainability. SAP say they want to be an exemplar and an enabler – and, so far, they seem to be delivering on that.

None of the other software companies seem to take sustainability reporting anywhere nearly as seriously as the hardware companies.

Why do you think that is?

[table id=11 /]

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