The country’s largest fully integrated telco provider PLDT recently announced that it is reaffirming its group-wide commitment to align more business initiatives that contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs) during the recently organized BusinessWorld Economic Forum on how ESG Criteria guides Leading Companies.
Joined by other panel experts in the group, PLDT Investor Relations Head and newly appointed Head of the Sustainability Office Melissa Vergel de Dios explained how PLDT is reinforcing its programs on sustainability, to focus on more initiatives under the Environment, Social, and Governance pillars that are closely aligned with the business and its purpose of “Connecting and Empowering Filipinos everywhere.”
“A key success factor for sustainability efforts within a company is that it should be high in the CEO agenda. PLDT’s focus on sustainability began under our Chairman, Manny Pangilinan, and I’m happy to share that our new CEO, Al Panlilio, is taking sustainability a notch higher. His direction is to ensure that sustainability is incorporated in the strategies for our three areas of focus, namely: customer experience, digitalization, and operating efficiencies,” Vergel de Dios said.
For the PLDT Group, Vergel de Dios shared three guiding principles which determine the sustainability programs to pursue. First, the project should be scalable – so less of the one-offs, and more of those that can be grown or nurtured. Second, the project should be sustainable – meaning less reliance on continuous funding and handouts. And most importantly, it should be tightly linked to the business.
Among its green initiatives, the PLDT Group deployed the country’s first carbon fiber cell tower to start off an initial roll out in more urban rooftops. Manufacturing carbon fiber towers produces less carbon dioxide as compared to the process of producing steel by up to 70 per cent. Cell sites using carbon fiber towers also occupy less space, lessening the company’s land use.
“We are also deploying green towers which use fuel cell technology that emits less carbon dioxide. In addition, fuel cell towers are cost effective and operate with minimal downtime, supporting our focus on CX and cost efficiencies,” added Vergel de Dios.
PLDT also recently announced a Green Fleet Program that includes the use of electric vehicles as part of its re-fleeting strategy.
The PLDT Group is part of the broader MVP Group where the Meralco organization, including MSERV, can easily assist and provide expertise on energy efficiency and green sources of power.
In line with its purpose and business of connectivity, Vergel de Dios also highlighted the group’s efforts in safeguarding its customers from the dangers of going online.
“While connectivity opens up a whole new world for users, including access to information, education, livelihood opportunities and entertainment, there are attendant dangers that we have a responsibility to address. In line with this, we have robust and extensive cybersecurity and data privacy solutions in place as we commit to providing a safe online environment for our customers, including children,” she said.
PLDT has been a staunch advocate and partner among global organizations who fight to protect children against online sexual abuse and explicit content or OSAEC. PLDT and Smart are in fact the first in the Philippines to join the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a global coalition of more than 150 organizations. Since joining, PLDT has successfully blocked over 10,000 links to child abuse material.
In its portfolio, PLDT and Smart have several other sustainability initiatives to roll out soon that not only benefit communities and stakeholders, but will benefit the business in the long-run.
Vergel de Dios summed up PLDT’s outlook in developing and nurturing their programs, how “sustainability is a journey, a continuing work in progress which should be tightly linked to the business. It is not a competition; rather it is about each of us doing our part to achieve a common objective as stewards of this planet for the next generation.”
Last year, PLDT and Smart joined over 1,000 international leaders when they signified their respective companies’ commitments to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) by signing the “Statement from Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation.” PLDT and Smart are registered under the UNGC as the only Philippine telco participants, a tier higher than signatories limited to local engagement. Participants actively engage with the UNGC at the global level to integrate into their companies’ operations, the organization’s Ten Principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.