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Viasat commits to greater transparency with its social responsibility initiatives

By |2020-08-18T12:55:28-06:00Aug 19, 2020|Categories: Corporate, Social Responsibility, We Are Viasat|Tags: , |

Internal assessment to be followed by public report in 2021

Viasat recently created its first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, a document designed to show how the company is having a positive impact on the economy, environment and society.

As the company’s first organized report, released internally in 2019, it sets the foundation for its CSR responsibility mission, detailing major programs already under way — and how it plans to build on those in the future.

In 2021, it will take that mission a giant step forward, making the report public. It will document CSR activity that occurred throughout 2020.

“Our stakeholders are deeply invested – some personally and some financially — and as a result they want to understand the impact we’re having on the world and the steps we’re taking to make it better,” said Chief People Officer Melinda Kimbro. “Whether it’s employees who have a passion for diversity or our airline partners who have an interest in ensuring we’re taking proper steps to minimize our impact on the environment, we’re choosing to be transparent today. And that’s not because we are perfect, but because we are committed to building on where we are today and making steady, solid progress.”

The growing importance of CSR

CSR, a concept first coined in the 1950s, is fast becoming an integral part of the business world. The reports let companies showcase that they’re acting as good citizens, going above basic legal requirements and shareholder profits to protect the environment and contribute to society. That means considering all stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities in which the business operates.

CSR reports are voluntary, but according to National Public Radio, more than 90% of the largest 250 U.S. companies produce them annually. And with the increased focus on how companies reflect societal changes important to employees and customers, their popularity is only growing.

“The expectations of CEOs and leaders at companies are changing,” said Viasat Director of Social Impact Tory See “It’s no longer just about financial performance, but also about integrating this sort of work into those results, and about taking a stand for things. This is one way for us to represent what Viasat stands for.”

CSR-related initiatives have long been entrenched in Viasat’s culture. And those initiatives are building, not only with the company’s growth, but as it moves closer to the global expansion that will come with the ViaSat-3 satellite constellation.

Kimbro said the concept of CSR dovetails with Viasat’s mission of “delivering connections with the capacity to change the world.”

“The goal of our CSR program is to ensure that as we fulfill this mission, we positively impact our people and communities, protect the environment and our precious resources, and operate with integrity in all facets of our business,” she said in an introduction to the company’s internal CSR report. “We also try to remain true to the motto ‘always a better way,’ so we’re constantly exploring new ways of doing things — whether that’s a product, service, or how we approach the organization as it relates to our people and our culture.”

The report outlines Viasat’s CSR initiatives under three categories: social, environmental and governance.

Diversity & Inclusion

Viasat recently made huge strides on its Diversity & Inclusion efforts, creating a Diversity & Inclusion Committee led by senior executives and a council made up of volunteer employees. The two groups will work together to identify and prioritize D&I efforts, promote them to the company and track the results.

The company is also exploring a leadership development curriculum that targets specific offerings to women and people of color with the goal of growing a more diverse set of leaders.

“We would like to see more decision makers at all levels within Viasat be a reflection of our customer base, and the customers we serve are Black, they’re white, they’re Hispanic, they’re members of the LGBTQ+ community, they’re women, men, and they’re veterans; they span the gamut,” Kimbro said. “The current social justice movement has not only changed how we are approaching diversity and inclusion, but the entire employee experience. We’ve already made some really positive changes, and there’s so much more on the way.”

Environment

Viasat has a team charged with monitoring and improving the company’s environmental management system. They keep an eye on energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous waste, environmental compliance and supplier responsibility. That includes monitoring at all our properties.

The new portion of the Carlsbad campus was designed with sustainability at the forefront, highlighted in the report.

“From electric vehicle stations to LED lighting and solar panels covering 33% of the roof space, the campus was built with energy efficiency in mind,” it reads. “We also added composting and recycling stations, bocce ball courts, jogging and biking trails, shade structures for informal meetings, fire pits, and ample greenspace that incorporates 11,000 native plants and trees.

“Throughout our campus design, we are encouraging employees to foster a relationship with nature, which will ultimately create ownership of our environmental responsibility efforts.”

Social

Viasat’s efforts in the social realm are likely the area most familiar to Viasat employees. They encompass everything from fair hiring practices and diversity & inclusion to occupational health and safety and community engagement – including employees volunteer efforts.

In 2019, more than 1,000 organizations around the world benefited from Viasat’s employee-driven programs. Here are a few ways employees gave back:

  • Employees gave over 2,000 hours of time mentoring high school and middle school students as part of a Science Olympiad program.
  • The company sponsored 40 robotics teams across the country.
  • 2019 employee volunteer hours added up to a record 15,000-plus.

And Viasat’s already made plans for a virtual Volunteer Week in 2020, during which employees can give virtual presentations on space, technology and careers to elementary, middle and high school students.

The 27-page internal report is just a sample of what’s to come next year. Viasat says the public report will be much more robust and include detailed data to support its CSR efforts.

Learn more about Viasat social impact

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About the Author:

Jane Reuter
Jane Reuter has a long history as a newspaper journalist in Colorado. She works as a corporate communications writer out of Viasat's Denver office.