BT and Unilever Sustainability Aspirations

As I have written before in Should We Pick Our Customers, I am interested in the idea of incorporating sustainability credentials in identifying priority prospects,  and also,  in partnering with customers on their sustainability.  So I was especially excited when Unilever recently unveiled its bold sustainability plan. Marc Gunther wrote an excellent post on the plan.

BT recently won an extension to its outsourcing contract with Unilever worth around €173m (£144m).   The original contract, announced in November 2002 and worth around €1bn, was the first comprehensive, global telecoms outsource contract ever undertaken by BT and remains one of BT’s largest global deals.  The news coverage on the day of the extension included reference to the fact that our two companies executives celebrated with Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream. The Times reported “BT staff in London were thrilled when the company renewed its global outsourcing deal with Unilever this week. This was because Unilever — whose brands include Cornetto, Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s — supplied BT’s headquarters with free ice creams to celebrate the deal.” (See my May 2010 post Can a Company Acquire Its Way into Being Sustainable.)

I am most interested in the quote from Pascal Visée, Unilever’s chief enterprise support officer, included in the press release “Unilever products touch the lives of over two billion people every day and our ambition is to double our business whilst reducing environmental impact. BT is a trusted partner whose high quality and robust services can help us realize that ambition.”

That is some ambition. To double business while reducing environmental impact, and BT is going to help Unilever realize it!   Actually, it is a perfect partnership.  BT emission reduction ambitions are also ambitious and are captured in our Climate Stabilization Intensity (CSI) target to achieve an 80% reduction by 2020.

In a coincidental announcement only a week earlier, the new and FTSE CDP Carbon Strategy Index Series named Unilever in its #1 spot and BT in the #2 spot in the index (is that like allowing your customer to win at golf !).

In addition to helping Unilever manage the direct environmental impact of their IT assets, the real excitement is the opportunity to collaborate together to help Unilever reduce their broader environmental impact. I am hoping that our companies will be talking about such things as how ICT services are a vehicle for conferencing to substitute for travel, for reduction in real estate, improvement in transport and production efficiency. These are the sorts of activities that will help Unilever achieve their ambition to double their business while reducing environmental impact.

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