Sustainable development has become a recurrent term in the modern day business community. In order to achieve a socially conscious economy, businesses have to strike a key balance between the needs of the present and the viable use of natural resources and ecosystems for future generations. “Living Progress” is the term coined by the Fortune 50 company, Hewlett Packard to report its Corporate Social Responsibility program. The Living Progress program is designed to provide a collective value to society much like an integrated Triple Bottom Line concept. The challenge for HP is to create a balance between human,economic and environmental progress. It aims to achieve a strong internal culture within the workforce to provide solutions to global issues. This paper will attempt to illustrate HP’s integrated approach by drawing data from HP’s 2014 Living Progress report, official website and press releases and show a connection between economic returns and environmental and social well being.
The human component of HP’s initiative demonstrates a number of detailed strategies, from committing to directly employing foreign migrant workers in the HP supply chain to a addressing issues of diversity with other organizations. HP also proudly boasts a 15% improvement in Social Accountability International’s Social Fingerprint Benchmark which resulted in HP placing in the top tier of companies assessed.1(2014). All this points to HP’s promise of securing innovative ways to engage workers and protect them. The human progress model constitutes of sub frameworks, that all string to human development. “Human rights are the fundamental rights, freedoms, and standards of treatment to which all people are entitled. They are outlined in international conventions, declarations, and treaties, including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”2(2014). Human rights is a compelling issue for HP, by working closely with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights, HP has created policies of its own designed to curb worker exploitation and support the rights of all concerned stakeholders.
Beyond its own operations, HP has contributed to a multitude of initiatives that support the common goal of human rights and has taken a leading role in participating with them. Another branch of the human progress model is HP’s Supply Chain Responsibility. HP is highly indebted to the Information Technology (IT) supply chain and hence is involved in programs that enhance the lives and protects the rights of its workers that deliver its products and services. A remarkable achievement in its Supply Chain Responsibility program was the reduced supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 18% from 2010 levels.3 The Supply Chain Responsibility program is an ever evolving system and HP is determined to mitigate risks by monitoring programs, worker engagement and other external sources.
For example, HP’s engagement in Southeast Asia enabled them to understand the evolving risk of forced labor in foreign migrant worker populations and take action as early as 2008.4 HP is aiming to secure high worker productivity and employee retention through The Supply Chain Responsibility initiative. Another vital straw of the human progress framework is HP’s objective of employee development. Among the many activities are, mentoring, leadership development, professional development and redeploying employees which is the term HP uses for internal recruitment. HP is committed to increasing the diversity of the workforce, with a strong focus on female talent5. The report also credits workforce, wellness, health and safety, providing more than just financial remunerations.
As one of the world’s largest multinational companies, HP has far reaching economic impacts. The second pillar in HP’s Living Progress scheme is to advance a thriving economy, where people have the skills and resources they need to contribute to society.6 The economic impacts created by HP across all stakeholders for 2014 are broad. One such example is supplier diversity, By supporting local communities and harnessing innovative and competitive advantages, HP creates a chain of expansive economic impacts. The demands of rising levels of data, calls for viable IT solutions, and HP is proud to host the groundbreaking HP Apollo 8000 system.7 Launched in 2014, the system has recorded savings of $1million in energy costs, compared to previous versions.
The Apollo 800 is a revolutionary system that relies on a liquid cooling system, unlike the other systems that use air. The impact created through this system was that excess heat was able to be transferred to use elsewhere8 Another economic impact highlighted in the report is the indirect payoff to local economies, resulting from compensation to all its 302,000 employees worldwide and they in turn pay taxes.9 HP paid net cash income taxes of $1.3 billion in 2014, contributing to government spending and programs around the world. We also returned $3.9 billion of capital to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases potentially increasing their spending and taxes.10 The economic waves created by companies such as HP is a clear case for a positive derivative to society.
The most necessary concern for sustainable development is the final tier in HP’s Living Progress initiative, The Environmental Progress. Through its application HP hopes to make the environment stronger as they grow by improving the efficiency of its supply chain, operations, and product and solutions,as well as by making positive contributions to the community, hence solving sustainability challenges.11 Tackling greenhouse gas emissions is HP’s primary focus in operations. Also, by striving to continually reduce waste and the use of water, HP has created leak detection systems, resulting in efficient operations. In 2011, HP became the first IT company to publish its global carbon footprint.12 This was a bold move by the company, as it demonstrates the willingness HP took to act responsibly and set a trend for other IT firms to follow. Embracing the circular economy model is a key factor in HP’s Environmental Progress agenda.
This model not just simply sell products, but offers customers ongoing services, extending its life cycle . All of the products and services that HP sells have the environment in mind and this is key to sustainable growth in society. Product design is a vital endowment in research fo HP product and this is displayed in HP’s Design for the Environment Program(DfE), which dates back to 1992.13 The DfE program was highly responsible in 2014 for helping customers gain green procurement, resulting in more than $25 billion in existing and potential business revenue14. This type of investment in customers turned out be highly rewarding. Later this year HP announced it will be separating into two companies; Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc.
HP believes the split will provide further breadth into its Living Progress impact worldwide, but needless to say this may lead to conflicting interests or a failed opportunity. The long term effects of the program may be shadowed by the impending change, however it is key to note that HP’s strategy has always been to look to the future and it is not the first large firm to make a colossal strategic decision and won’t be their last. Socially responsible activities such of those, conducted by HP must have some concrete return, or it won’t be viable from a business perspective. HP has exhibited a strong connection between monetary returns and social and environmental well being. The Living Progress initiative is a beacon for sustainable development and making the environment stronger is its highest aspiration.
HP Living Progress. (2014).2014 HP Living Progress Report Retreived From: http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=c04152740
Indiana Business Review. The Triple Bottom Line: What Is It and How Does It Work? Retreived from: http://www.ibrc.indiana.edu/ibr/2011/spring/article2.html