Today we are announcing the release of Sprint’s annual Corporate Responsibility Report. This report is different than our past reports because it’s targeted at a different audience than our past reports - you, the consumer.
Typically, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team within a corporation writes an annual CR report to meet very specific criteria – established through a variety of CSR “experts” such as sustainability standards bodies and specialized investor groups. While, it is important that we provide these influential stakeholders with the information they require to “judge” the quality and impact of our efforts, we think it is more important that we meet YOUR needs and expectations.
Companies often complain that consumers don’t seem to value the CSR efforts they make. But if we’re honest about it, most companies don’t seem to value communicating their CSR efforts in ways that are effective for consumers. This is the challenge we had in mind when we wrote this year’s report. We more clearly share our CSR priorities and what we stand for, have fewer charts and graphs and more written examples of the actions we are taking and the impact we are having. We think this refreshed approach to corporate reporting is an important step for companies to take if they want to more effectively connect their CSR work with consumer values and interests.
Our top two business priorities are meeting customer expectations in terms of network quality and value, but we hope to get to the point where our customers and prospects also value what we stand for and how we impact the environment and society. So let’s talk about Sprint’s CSR efforts, and in particular, the big changes and challenges we took on during 2014 and how these changes may be relevant to you.
- Leadership: We have a new CEO and many other new executives who want to make Sprint more competitive and focused on the things that matter most to our customers. This means improving our network quality and coverage, improving the value of our service offerings, personally meeting customers where they are to get new phones and the training they need to use them effectively, and asking the really hard but necessary questions to make sure everything we do within our business is essential and contributes to a better customer experience. We are already seeing signs of a turnaround in all of these areas.
- Huge drop in electricity use: The improvements we saw in 2014 were by far our most significant. We reduced our total electricity use by an amazing 22% in just one year, bringing our total electricity reduction since 2007 to 37%. To put that into terms we can all relate to, this big of an electricity reduction is the equivalent of having a town of nearly 100,000 people not drive a vehicle for an entire year or having more than 22 million homes not use any electricity for a full day. The contributions that corporations can make far outweigh the impacts that each of us can make individually. Your efforts count too, but don’t underestimate the impact businesses can have on aggregate energy consumption and climate change. And by the way, reducing our electricity use by that much also reduced our costs by $74 million dollars in 2014 alone.
- Increased focus on customers with disabilities: If there is a single community of people where communications technology can be the most transformative, it may be people with disabilities. Sprint has embraced this community and is by far the largest provider of Telecommunications Relay Services for the deaf and hearing impaired in the country. We expanded our line of accessible wireless devices such as the Kyocera Verve and LG G3, launched a new Sprint shopping website for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and hosted some events with Samsung designed to increase input from this community into our product development efforts. Each of us knows someone who has suffered from hearing or vision loss. It’s important to Sprint that they - your friends and family - have the opportunity to use wireless technology to remove the barriers they face to have a more robust and equal life experience.
- Expanded services for the poor: We are equally proud of the benefits we are providing to those people at the bottom of the economic pyramid in the U.S. According to the 2012 U.S. census, there are more than 46 million people living in poverty, including 13.6 million Hispanics, 10.9 million African-Americans, 16 million children, and 4.3 million disabled adults. Sprint now provides discounted wireless service offerings through our Assurance Wireless brand to more than 40 states, covering 92% of Lifeline-eligible households (those that have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in one of a defined list of public assistance programs). This means that millions of people finally have access to low-cost phone service they can use to stay in touch with health providers, potential employers, and their community of family and supporters.
- Innovation for Good: The Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator is an immersive, mentor-driven program for healthcare start-ups. These companies set-up shop in Kansas City for three months to build and strengthen their businesses. Each company receives up to $120,000 in funding. Ten mobile health-related start-up teams from across the country and Australia were selected from hundreds of applicants. We couldn’t be prouder of the success of our inaugural class of participants and the potential of our second class.
There are many more things you can read about in our newly released report, but these are among the ones that have the broadest and longest-term impacts. Thank you for taking time to learn more about Sprint. We hope this information sheds more light on who we are, what we care about, and what we hope to do next to make the world a better place. We truly appreciate your interest in our efforts and look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can do better (email us at email@example.com).
Director, Corporate Sustainability