A bit of background – the Augusta National Golf Club is a private club, so it can set its own rules. Its rules have been notoriously discriminatory through the years – it didn’t admit black members until 1990, until recently it had a policy requiring all caddies to be black, and it continues to refuse women membership.
The fact that it refuses to allow female membership is now sharply in focus because the club has traditionally invited the CEO’s of the main sponsors of the US Masters to become members. By the end of this year’s tournament, despite IBM’s significant sponsorship, Ms Rometty had not been invited to become a member, because of her gender.
Now Ms Rometty is reportedly not a frequent golfer, so while it may not be a devastating blow to her game, it is a slap in the face that she wasn’t asked to be a member when her predecessors at IBM were. As were the CEO’s of the two other Masters sponsors (AT&T and Exxon Mobil).
IBM’s involvement with the event goes back many years and they are tied into it deeply not just financially but also at a technological level. According to Bloomberg
IBM is featured in the tournament’s TV commercials and runs its website, mobile-phone applications and media-center technology. Palmisano serves on Augusta’s technology tournament committee. He remains IBM’s chairman — a role Rometty is likely also to assume upon his retirement
Augusta may need IBM more than IBM needs the Masters…
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.
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.
I was extremely lucky to be given a tour of Adobe’s triple platinum LEED certified HQ in Palo Alto last year. I video’d highlights of the tour and posted them here. At the time I was extremely impressed with Adobe’s sustainability initiatives.
However, since then I have been more and more convinced that the building is a one-off and that Adobe has no commitment whatsoever, to Sustainability.
Why do I say this?
Adobe’s 2009 CSR report, while slightly better than its 2008 report, it is still a triumph of style over content. There is no adherence to GRI reporting standards, no external audit and no mention of targets set or previous targets reached
No-where on the Adobe site or in its CSR reports (that I could find) does it mention who in the organisation has responsibility for Sustainability. If no-one has overall responsibility for it, then we shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t get done
When I published my review of tech company sustainability reports a couple of weeks back, it was suggested that I should add in telco’s as well. Instead, for clarity, I decided to publish a separate review of telco sustainability reports here.
In an otherwise good report, it was disappointing to see the Chairman’s involvement was a cut & paste of an online discussion he had about sustainability on another site as opposed to something specific to the report. Also, the fact that it contained a photo of the Chair using bottled waste doesn’t speak well for his commitment to sustainability