Sustainable Innovation


Service Providing Attitude of KPN Reinforced by Serving Dinner
December 21, 2009, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Best Practices in The Netherlands | Tags: , ,

Serving Dinner by the Top Managers of KPN have proven to be an excellent means of mobilisation of employees. Top Managers of the large Telecom Service Provider showed how to ‘Serve People’ in a most tangible way. KPNs CSR Officer Sven Drillenburg Lelijveld explains how KPN has defined its CR strategy and how it leads to new sustainable innovations..

KPN is the leading Dutch telecommunications and ICT service provider. Its predecessor, the national telecom and post company (PTT) was founded 150 years ago. In 1989, PTT was rebranded ‘KPN’ (Koninklijke PTT Nederland), privatised and listed at the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. The postal services continued as TNT Post. KPN currently employs 36,700 employees, mostly in Europe, and generates an annual turnover of 14,6 million euros (2008 numbers)(1) .

Sven Drillenburg Lelijveld, CSR Officer at KPN

Sven Drillenburg Lelijveld is KPN’s CSR Officer. The former Environmental Engineer with a sustainable development consultancy background started as CSR Officer at KPN in 2007. Drillenburg Lelijveld heads a team of three CSR professionals and is reporting into the KPN Corporate Communication Staff Department.  

1. What are Corporate Responsibility Objectives of KPN ?

KPNs services contribute to societal development as they intrinsically ‘bring people together’. Furthermore, KPN has been leading a variety of  socially engaged projects. These projects however were not that very visible nor were embedded in a CSR strategy.

In 2007 a new Corporate Social Responsibility Policy was defined. Within the KPN Board Baptiest Coopmans became topic pwmer. Coopmans describes the core objective of the companies CSR policy as ‘To add a warm heart to KPN’. Drillenburg Lelijveld adds that the central CSR themes are directly related to the KPN’s values and respond to societal trends :

1. People connected. KPN estimates that 5% of the Dutch people experience a lack of social contact. It is KPNs first CSR objective to offer knowledge, technology and employees’ time in order to fight loneliness, by using the newest communication technologies to enable contact. ‘The Finest Contact Foundation’ (het Mooiste Contact Fonds) is KPNs vehicle for this, addressing people who are relatively susceptible to social isolation (2). For instance, the project ClassContact provides ill children to make contact with class mates ;  the ‘ComputerPlusBus’ with KPN volunteers, help senior people to become at ease with new media developments and the Resto VanHarte, 19 Dutch restaurants that offer easy to access eating facilities in underprivileged areas.

‘Finest Contact Foundation’, with one of the projects : ‘ClassContact’, allowing ill children to stay in contact with their class mates.  

2. The New Way of Working. The Netherlands suffers from heavy traffic congestion during peak hours. In response, many people work from other home, during a part of the day or a few days per week. About 4 million people call themselves ‘flex workers’, according to Drillenburg Lelijveld. KPN wants to contribute to the ‘New Way of Working’ enabling flex working, keeping a good life/work balance, and valuing individual responsibility and entrepreneurship. For instance, KPN stimulates its employees to avoid rush hours and work from home during certain hours. The objective is to generate 5% less travel during rush hours in 2010. Telephone and video conferences are encouraged, instead of physical meetings that require travelling by car. Using call conferences instead of travelling has already saved 2,8 k metric tons C02 emission in 2007 (3).  

3. Responsible Energy Use. The ICT industry is a high-energy consumer sector. KPN is responsible for 1% of the Dutch national electricity consumptions and its  customers add another 1%. KPN aims to significantly reduce its energy consumption as well as its net green house gas emission. The objective is to become carbon neutral in 2020. The first steps were detailed analyses of KPNs green house gas emission by using official  Greenhouse Gas Protocol. KPN is now testing new technologies and procedures, among them a new data center system based on natural ventilation ‘Kyoto Cooling’ that allows a energy reductions of up to 20%. Lease cars can only be chosen with a relatively low environmental impact, following the Dutch Energy A, B, or C label for cars. 50% of KPNs energy is renewable which will be increased up till 100% in 2011. All efforts so far has lead to energy savings of 40 GWh per year (3,7 million euros). The company was also noted as ‘leading telecom’ notification by the NGO ‘Carbon Disclosure Project’ in 2009.

Stakeholder dialogues refine CSR action plans. KPN has held various stakeholder dialogues in 2009 : 3 employee meetings, 2 customer meetings, 1 supplier  and 1 meeting with external partners. The main conclusions were first of all the approval of the CSR themes as being well matching KPNs core values and business. Secondly, the stakeholders asked for more detailed operational objectives linked to the central teams.  The CSR team is now working on this and will communicate in the next CSR Strategy plans and reports. A future step will be to split out the KPI’s down to the business units and individual bonus plans.  

2. How does CSR contribute to Innovation ?

Corporate responsibility at KPN has already led to various innovations, according to KPNs CSR officer. Examples are KPNs flex working Solutions. KPN offers solutions that help customers to enable their employees to work in a pleasant and optimal way and reduce physical transport. Among the remote flex working ICT solutions are ADSL connections, Mobile UMTS (‘Dongel’) and Wifi services,

Consortium ‘Netherlands Reachable’. KPN is participating in the Taskforce ‘Nederland Bereikbaar‘together with Microsoft, the Dutch Railways (NS), Rabobank and the Dutch Association for Car Drivers (ANWB). The objective is to develop solutions and guidelines for ‘New Ways of Working’ for a good life/work balance and a reduction of the traffic congestion problems in The Netherlands.

 

New industry Standards. Together with other ICT experts, KPN is participating in The Green Grid. Among other activities of The Green Grid, it has developed a new coefficient for the energy efficiency of data centers.

Reinforcing a ‘Service Providing’ Mindset. All new technologies and partnerships have created new technological solutions and methodologies. Drillenburg Lelijveld adds that he notably recognized a changing mindset among the employees, which is very encouraging. Employees are increasingly committed to participate to do voluntary work (1700 inscriptions this year for the Finest Contact Foundation), notably the young generation.  KPNs management proves to be supporting as well. The Top 50 executives have been serving dinner to less privileged people at Resto VanHarte last months. It has created a new flow of enthusiasm. Moreover, the top managers have set the example by serving dinner and making contact. It has reinforced the mindset of ‘serving people’, an essential competence being a service provider.

KPN Top managers serving dinner in less privileged city areas (Resto van Harte)

3. Does the economic Crisis impacts the CR Strategy ?

All industries are effected by the economical crisis. The CSR Strategy has however been set and will be irreversible. It will therefore be proceeded as foreseen. Simply because CSR has proven to strengthen business. ICT is a main driver for the upcoming sustainable society/economy.  

4. What are outlooks for the sector ?

The trend to reduce energy and green house gas emissions will proceed. Fortunately, Drillenburg Lelijveld explains, the KPN board is a strong supporter of this. It is approving the necessary investments, such as for instance the slightly higher energy rates (1-2%) for renewable energy, in order to achieve the objective of 100% renewable energy in 2011.

KPN wants to maintain its frontrunner position in Corporate Responsibility The Netherlands.

Every step of social and environmental responsibility  is important. Drillenburg Lelijveld states that it is easy to be sceptical as the climate change and social issues are enormous. It is likely that in 20 years time we recognize that the steps we set today are very small compared to the challenges were are facing. However, the direction is set and irreversible. It is important to be proud of every objective achieved. It keeps us going.

 

Sources : 1) www.kpn.com ; 2) www.mooistecontactfonds.nl ; 3) Mensen bij elkaar brengen, KPN Duurzaamheidsverslag 2008.


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