Interview with Verizon’s Governance & Chief ESG Officer
For the GlobeCap fund, we have a strict exclusion filter to choose among the most sustainable companies in the world. One of these companies is the American telecommunications giant Verizon. We took the opportunity to ask some direct questions to Verizon’s Governance & Chief ESG Officer, Beth Sasfai, for questions regarding sustainability, and we got some interesting answers.
Verizon is one of the world’s largest multinational telecommunications companies headquartered in New York and operating in North America, Europe, and Asia, with approximately 130,000 employees worldwide. 2020, Verizon had revenues of $128.3 billion with a market cap of approximately $236 billion and will pay a cumulated dividend of $2.51 in 2021. Verizon’s stock price has proved to be stable with low volatility over long-lasting periods and favors a risk-adjusted return, which has led to an inclusion frequency of 73.3% in our fund. We have also asked a few questions to Verizon to get to know the company and their future vision on sustainability.
Ms. Sasfai is Verizon’s Senior Vice President, Governance & Chief ESG Officer. She is responsible for the company’s ESG strategy, disclosure, and related stakeholder advocacy. She leads a cross-functional team of lawyers and sustainability professionals responsible for corporate governance policy and Board affairs; ESG commitments, reporting and engagement; business and human rights; digital trust and safety; compliance with corporate and securities laws; legal support to investor relations and external reporting; and advising on other general corporate matters.
Q – What do you see as the biggest challenges in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability (ESG) for Verizon and your market right now?
A – We believe that we have a responsibility to leverage our technology, operations and employees to help move the world forward into a more connected, secure and sustainable future. Our strategy is built to see this vision come to fruition by effectively governing and managing key ESG challenges and opportunities that arise from our core business operations, including:
- Digital responsibility, which is essential to earning our customers’ trust and growing our business,
- Mitigating climate risk to deliver innovative solutions that advance the transition to a low-carbon economy,
- Promoting diversity and inclusion to become a stronger and more competitive company,
- Fostering a culture of integrity and being mindful of the social and environmental impacts of our products and services, and
- Investing in reliable networks and affordable services that keep us all connected.
Q – How do you see these challenges affect Verizon and the market in the future?
A – The way we govern our impacts on people, society and the environment and how we discuss this work through our transparency and engagement are important parts of demonstrating our responsible business conduct. We have set ambitious targets related to our key challenges and opportunities in order to mitigate future risks and make the most of any opportunities. Our commitments include:
- By 2035, achieve net zero emissions in our operations.
- By 2025, source or generate renewable energy equivalent to 50% of our total annual electricity consumption.
- By 2030, sponsor the planting of 20 million trees worldwide.
- By 2030, provide 10 million youths with digital skills training.
- By 2030, prepare 500,000 individuals for jobs of the future.
- By 2030, provide 1 million small businesses with resources to help them thrive in the digital economy.
Q – Which is the most significant step that Verizon has taken and is the proudest of?
A – Verizon has made significant progress against many of the goals outlined above, as well as with other related initiatives. This includes:
- Announcing our approved science-based emissions reduction targets for our operations and value chain.
- Becoming one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy in the U.S. after entering into long-term VPPAs for a total of nearly 1.7 GW of anticipated renewable energy capacity.
- Meeting our goal for our networks and connected solutions to avoid more than double the amount of emissions that our operations create. We’ve set a new goal that by 2030 Verizon solutions will help avoid 20 million metric tons of CO2e annually.
- Supporting the planting of more than 6.1 million trees (2009 through 2020).
- Providing over 480,000 youths with digital skills training (2014-2020).
- Preparing over 4,200 individuals for jobs of the future (2019-2020).
We would like to extend our thanks to Beth and Verizon for taking their time to talk to us their great work in the field of sustainability.