One of the questions I get asked by virtually every interviewer is, "Do the mainstream investors really care about sustainability?" Answer: "Nope".
Last week, EMC held our Q4 2011 earnings call. It was great, by the way - good quarter and good year. And the proverbial cherry on top was Joe Tucci's announcement that he'd agreed to stay on into 2013. I've got to admit - it's a heck of a lot easier to drive a Sustainability program at a company not only led by a CEO who cares, but one who has the wholehearted endorsement of the employees, the board, and "the street"!
Another great advantage I have at EMC is that our CFO really sees sustainability as a core value. And so I was thrilled that he asked that information on our 2011 sustainability performance be included in the earnings deck.
And so it was - Investor Relations worked with me to put together a full page that spoke to customer pull, financial returns from energy efficiency, other investments in sustainability, and market recognition for our performance. Admittedly, the slide was in the "appendix" section of the deck. And for good reason ,which points to the core issue.
At the end of the day, even tens of millions of dollars won't rise to the definition of "material" when it comes to quarterly or especially annual results for a multi-billion dollar global corporation. Nor should it necessarily do so - the point of sustainability is that it's an investment in the long term well-being of the company as well as the planet and our society. But that, alas, is not what financial analysts care about.
So our sustainability performance didn't make it into the remarks, nor did any of the analysts ask questions on the topic. But darn it - the slide was there for all to see. So whether they cared or not, it was quite clear that EMC leadership does.
And by the way, the employees engaged in the efforts mentioned - energy efficient products, e-waste management, reduction in emissions and energy consumption in our facilities, our new data center, investing in education, "green" packaging initiatives, emissions reductions in logistics - they were just tickled pink.
I know I was!