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N°28  |  July   2008
Executive opinion

Making Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a key pillar of our strategy
Interview with Bruno Pinna, Bull Group Marketing Director

The telecoms sector is moving full speed ahead, and the convergence – until recently just a slogan – is today becoming a reality. As the systems integration partner of many telecoms equipment manufacturers, Bull takes full advantage of its IT expertise and manufacturing culture to deliver flexible and innovative high-performance solutions worldwide.

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By formalizing a global approach to Corporate Social Responsibility at the heart of the Group’s Marketing Department, Bull is aiming to structure its various social, community and environmental initiatives to ensure that they are genuine drivers for creating value, not just for the company itself, but also for its employees and its customers.

Organizations are becoming increasingly accountable for the social, community and environmental consequences of the business activities. Spurred on by the growing and increasingly collective force of public opinion, legislators, employees, business partners, and even investors (with the growth of ethical investment funds), they have to face these new challenges head on. However, if they only look on these stakeholder demands as an additional corporate burden, and only respond to them through the carefully crafted means of communication (without real actions to support their words), this is neither sustainable in the long term nor is it likely to be enough to really address the issues being raised. For organizations today, taking an integrated approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), including environmental responsibility, is becoming a fundamental strategic imperative as part of an overall business logic of sustainable development. Driven by just this kind of conviction, Bull is bringing together and formally structuring its numerous existing initiatives in this area to lend them greater weight and visibility, and improve their effectiveness.

The benefits of a structured approach to CSR
In the short term, upgrading IT, buying new hardware or reviewing working practices relating to CSR may seem like unproductive expenditure; but they should really be seen as longer term investments. Putting in place processes that use fewer resources, and are more respectful of people and the environment, can ultimately result in significant gains in three key areas: better risk management, increased competitiveness and better corporate image (both internal and external). So in the IT sector – where competition is fierce, pressure on costs is enormous and most of the value of businesses resides in people and their skills – an effective CSR policy can prove decisive.

Today, major purchasers of products and services are increasingly including social and environmental criteria in their procurement policies. So it can be a significant advantage for a supplier to be capable of delivering rapid and appropriate responses to these requirements. The very high levels of interest generated by initiatives such as our Bio Data Center™ clearly illustrate this. Our aim is to multiply these initiatives as means of meeting the key CSR challenges more effectively, while at the same time creating value for our customers, our employees and the company.

Bull values in action
Effectively combining social, community and environmental responsibility with cost efficiency is not a new idea for us. Bull has long been involved in activities that fall within the sphere of CSR, and which are above all an expression of our traditional values of innovation, rigor and responsibility.

For example, we were one of the first hundred companies in France to develop an integrated Quality, Safety and Environmental (QSE) management system, for our logistics and manufacturing site at Angers. This certification, awarded in 2004, is based on recognized standards (ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001) and also led to the signing of a formal charter highlighting Bull’s long-term commitment to its customers. Once again at Angers, we were ahead of the game in introducing tough recycling targets required by the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. Each year, Angers recycles 90% of recovered obsolete hardware. The remaining 10% is dismantled by a specialist workshop which is particularly charged with ensuring the strict elimination of dangerous substances.

Bull actively seeks to fight against all forms of inequality and discrimination, not just through its recruitment policies, but also through actions designed to promote access to the workplace for people with disabilities, entrusted to the Frederik R. Bull Institute, a not-for-profit foundation. Once again, this reflects one of Bull’s fundamental values: people are judged by their skills. And in order to face the challenge of meeting its own evolving business needs, Bull is implementing a deliberately positive training policy and has embarked on a program of proactive career development. Our so-called TransFormation program is designed to develop the skills of the people in new functions supporting the company’s future development.

Integrating existing business policies into our CSR approach
Bull’s integrated approach to CSR is about organizing numerous and sometimes quite widely dispersed policies and aligning them with the Group’s overall strategy. The rise of our Green Computing offerings, focused around the Bio Data Center™ and the implementation of the ‘Intelligence Energy Management’ concept is a great illustration of our will to make this happen. They also highlight the real benefits of ensuring that our ideas, innovations, services and products are consistent, in such a way that they mutually enrich each other to the greatest possible benefit of our customers and the environment. It is in this spirit that we are driving our CSR program to harmonize and equip our processes in such a way as to liberate all latent value, both for our customers and for Bull as a company.

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