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Our Sustainability Work Puts Us in Good Company

by Employee ‎09-26-2011 03:33 PM - edited ‎10-28-2011 04:47 PM

james_gowen_133x175.jpgWhen I became Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer in 2009, Verizon was one of 18 publicly-traded companies in the U.S. to have the CSO title in the C-Suite. A lot has happened since then, and we’re pleased to see that more companies have brought a focus to conducting environmentally-friendly business by appointing a CSO of their own. According to a report by executive search and consulting firm Weinreb Group, CSO Back Story, there are now 29 publicly-traded U.S. companies with CSOs.


It was just two years ago this month that we created our CSO office and formed the sustainability team. Two months later, we held our first recycling event in Texas. This popular program is now held several times a year at offices across the country and has collected more than 400,000 pounds of used electronics and other recyclable materials from employees and communities. The Verizon Green Team, a group of employee volunteers passionate about environmental issues, was formed in early 2010 to help lead our sustainability initiatives around the world and now boasts more than 5,000 members.


We’ve added nearly 2,000 alternative-energy vehicles to our fleet, introduced groundbreaking energy standards for telecom equipment used in our network, implemented green TV set-top boxes that use 30 percent less energy, and started selling the world’s first carbon-free smartphone – the Motorola Citrus.


While we’re proud of all the ways we’ve made our company’s operations more efficient, we believe our greatest contribution to the environment is our technology. Our broadband and wireless networks are the backbone on which energy-saving services such as smart power grids, smart buildings, and remote home energy management are built on. So while we’ve done a lot in two years, it is only just the beginning.


I look forward not only to seeing what Verizon can accomplish but what the rest of my fellow CSOs can accomplish in the coming years. And, as CSO Back Story points out, only 29 companies among the roughly 7,000 publicly traded companies in the U.S. have a Chief Sustainability Officer. That leaves us with a big opportunity.


by Valery
on ‎10-07-2011 02:06 AM

Dear Mr.. Gowen, may I share my unpleasant experiences ref Verizon's Sustainability in service provision, customer service and tech personnel knowledge. These are just some of the sustainability areas but these are as important, especially that you deal with initiatives.

1. Service provision. A couple of months ago I was without phone, TV and Internet for 125 hours (yes, the figure is right). A tree fell and broke the main feeder cable. About 10 homes were affected ( those were people I know). I immediately called on my cell and got an auto reply to go to the Internet (!). Finally, I got a direct # to some manager and explained the situation. She promised to help but nothing happened. Yes, it was during the strike. But it is no excuse. Verizon provides a vital phone service and there must be a contingency plan for emergencies irrespective of internal company disputes. How can I trust Verizon's capabilities to handle hurricane or earthquake emergencies? You might recall that during the earthquake New York Mayor advised to use land lines instead of cells. But what about the case when the land line is broken and no one seems to act? It all is a failure to respond to a potentially dangerous situation ref heath, life, business, you name it. 

2. Customers service. During the emergency we had, after about 48 hours from the accident I spotted a service mini-van. When I explained my situation to the mechanics I got the answer that they were on another call and that I was delaying them with my problems. I insisted that they called their head office to advise that the main cable had been broken so sending a mini-van was totally useless. Nonetheless, Verizon continued to send such vans to our area including my home. None was able to do anything. So they would come and left. Is it a good use of resources? Or is it a good management? Or is there a lack of communication between Departments? Or just a lack of initiative? 

3 Tech staff knowledge. When I first signed with Verizon, the installer could not make my PC connect to the Internet with your modem. So they send another man but he knew even less and left having done nothing. Your customer service advised me to go back to my old provider (!).

Would you call this initiative in winning customers? I have Windows in my PC and I felt a challenge. Soon I figured how to make your modem run. I shared my procedure with your IT staff in the hope that that would be used in their training. "Customer help thyself'! 


Well, I decided to quit Verizon as unreliable and switched to cable. And yet another problem.  Verizon just sent a regular bill as if I had not switched. After three calls they promised to correct but... they insisted  on a wrong date. The switch order # is in their system but they would not even look it up. Problem after problem. And all this touches upon sustainability.

Once I helped Verizon but this is the service I get. Hope you'll read this. I can provide more details.

King regards Valery


by AndreaZimmerman
on ‎12-03-2011 05:02 PM

James, I have noticed that Verizon has not published a GRI Report. Do you plan to report on the GRI platform?   I am interested to learn if you are using it as part of your SMS - Sustainability Management System and what other frameworks you are using for your SMS....





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About the Authors

Rose Kirk

V.P. of Global Corporate Citizenship and President of the Verizon Foundation

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Rose leads Verizon's global corporate responsibility initiatives and philanthropic strategy, which focuses on applying Verizon's technology to improve education, healthcare and energy management.

James Gowen

Chief Sustainability Officer/
V.P. of Services Operations

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James oversees Verizon’s supply chain, vehicle fleet, investment recovery, purchasing and materials management and sustainability initiatives.

Jack McArtney

Director of Corporate and Community Responsibility

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Jack promotes digital wellness and online safety. He works with parents, educators, service providers, application developers and industry leaders to foster responsible use of Verizon's mobile and broadband networks.

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