Is sustainability in Business just for show?

Ross Couper, Marketing Manager, O2

As a recent graduate with a dual honours in geography and business, the topic of sustainability has always been of interest. Through the course we covered sustainability in the world of big business and would always end up discussing whether sustainability was only a focus for PR, so the organisation appeared to care.  Whether the organisation really did care about being sustainable was a subject of hot debate. Usually we would conclude that the majority of corporations only did it for PR purposes, and often to cover their backs after certain events – oil spills or exposure of child labour to name a few.  Rarely did anyone truly believe sustainability was pursued for the right reasons.

Starting my working life a few months later as a grad in the O2 business team at Telefonica, I expected no different. Well, I was wrong. You might expect me, as an eager young grad, to say this but from my first day it was hard to miss what sustainability means here. Think Big is plastered everywhere and within my first few days I had already been invited to participate in a Think Big activity, teaching coding to young girls to help increase the numbers of females in the tech sector. I know what you must be asking , aside from ‘Ross Teaching coding?, is what is Think Big?’ Well, Think Big is O2’s sustainability blueprint and very much more than an exercise in clever PR as I discovered.

We’re aiming to help 20 million people live better with technology by 2020. To achieve this, we’ll look to give;

  1. People more confidence to enjoy the digital world through our partnership with NSPCC and offering advice on data and online security.
  2. More opportunities through our Think Big youth programmes that bring digital skills and career opportunities to young people throughout the UK.
  3. More solutions to utilise the digital world and reduce their impact on the planet such as Unified Comms, Enterprise Mobility or our connectivity.

And on top of this we will continue to run our business responsibly. We were the first mobile telecoms company to be awarded the Carbon Trust Triple Standard for carbon, waste and water. This was achieved through a number of initiatives such as O2 recycle, our flexible working policy, which we can make happen through the use of our solutions, and which also has the benefit of improving employee satisfaction. We even make sure that 100% of the energy we use at our Slough HQ comes from renewable sources, something that seemed unbelievable but is true!

It’s fair to say that after my first year at O2 my scepticism about profits always trumping sustainable practices has vanished. It’s made me realise that being more sustainable doesn’t just lead to a better reputation with customers but employees too and that in turn will lead to economic benefits.

Find out more about O2’s sustainability here or get in touch with me to see how our solutions can help you become a more sustainable and effective organisation.