Occasionally we see examples of how it should be done – the prototype of a corporate sustainability program that makes good business sense, articulates long-term goals (and sticks with them), and acknowledges the importance of environmental issues for companies across multiple industries. The fact that one such example is News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, may surprise you. But it shouldn’t.
A few weeks ago, Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corporation, announced that the company and its subsidiaries had reached their goal of carbon neutrality. Mr. Murdoch stated that improving the energy efficiency of the company’s day-to-day operations had not only curbed emissions but also “saved millions of dollars.”
>Our efficiency projects pay for themselves in less than two years, on average, and span from simple solutions like lighting retrofits and automatic PC shut-down to systemic changes like installing telepresence and videoconferencing technology to reduce the need for air travel.
News Corporation began calculating and reporting its worldwide carbon footprint in 2006. Its 2010 report shows that its footprint is smaller today in absolute terms than it was in 2006, even without its escalating green energy purchases.
And as 2010 came to a close, the company made good on a commitment announced more than three years before:
>All News Corporation business units will become carbon neutral by 2010 — through energy efficiency, buying renewable power and offsetting otherwise unavoidable emissions.
When the number crunching was completed, News Corporation offset 110% of its FY 2010 unavoidable carbon footprint by investing in emissions reduction projects.
The irony of this, according to some, is that several of News Corporation’s media outlets consistently espouse conservative views on environmental issues—the most extreme of which deny that climate change is happening. Faced with this irony, I can only quote the philosopher John Locke: “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”
That ongoing attention to sustainability initiatives can produce meaningful business results should not come as a surprise. That conservative-leaning media outlets seek business results in their operations should also not come as a surprise. Clearly, News Corporation has seen value in carbon offsets and other sustainability initiatives and has publicized this widely. In addition, Rupert Murdoch published the results of the initiative in a memo to employees, suggesting that News Corp might see this as a means to enhance employee engagement. We urge other companies of all stripes to take heed; this is the way it should be done.