Verizon’s Corporate Social Responsibility, Stakeholders, and Performance

Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder analysis, interests, sustainability, telecommunications case study and recommendations
A Newark Airport phone charging station sponsored by Verizon Wireless. The corporate social responsibility strategy of Verizon Communications, Inc. focuses on the interests of customers as the most important stakeholder group in the telecommunications business. This strategy and its programs influence the corporate citizenship and sustainability initiatives of the company’s divisions and subsidiaries, such as Verizon Wireless. (Photo: Public Domain)

Verizon Communications, Inc. focuses its corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy on customers, with the goal of reaching and maintaining high customer satisfaction. In Archie B. Carroll’s theory on corporate social responsibility, businesses must work to satisfy the interests of stakeholders. Stakeholders are individuals or groups that affect and are affected by business. In this case of Verizon, the stakeholders are relevant to the various markets where the company operates. For example, the interests of stakeholders in the wireless telecommunications market are significant to the company’s corporate citizenship programs because of the operations of Verizon Wireless. The company’s continued expansion also translates to the corresponding expansion of its corporate responsibilities. For instance, increasing operations in the mass media market should correspond to an increasing significance of the company’s CSR initiatives for that market’s stakeholders, such as content safety and censorship groups. The resulting corporate social responsibility strategy must cover Verizon Wireless and all other areas of the business, and must include sustainability and other factors relevant to the business and its stakeholders.

Effective and appropriate corporate responsibility programs contribute to the strengths of the business, such as the strong brand image determined in the SWOT analysis of Verizon Communications, Inc. For example, CSR initiatives that satisfy the interests of customers as stakeholders can enhance the company’s brand image and, consequently, customer loyalty. Also, high sustainability in the operations of Verizon Wireless can improve the company’s corporate citizenship status. Thus, it is essential that the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy comprehensively consider the issues significant to stakeholders in the telecommunications market and other markets where the company does business.

CSR Initiatives & Stakeholders in Verizon Communications, Inc.’s Business

Verizon has a customer-centric corporate social responsibility strategy. Customers are considered as the primary and most significant stakeholder group of the telecommunications business. In this regard, customers’ interests define much of the company’s corporate responsibility programs. These programs influence the CSR initiatives in all areas of the organization, including the operations of Verizon Wireless. In spite of such focus on customers, the company’s corporate citizenship approach also considers the interests of other stakeholders. For example, suppliers and employees influence sustainability programs. However, these CSR initiatives remain focused on customers. Verizon’s corporate social responsibility strategy has the following prioritization of stakeholder groups:

  1. Customers (highest priority)
  2. Environment
  3. Employees
  4. Suppliers
  5. Investors

Customers. Customers have the highest priority and significance in Verizon’s corporate social responsibility strategy. This stakeholder group is interested in high quality services and reasonable prices. They are also concerned with sustainability and the contribution of the company’s CSR programs to the improvement of their lives. Verizon’s corporate vision statement and corporate mission statement emphasize the importance of technology as a core resource to address such interests. For example, the company’s corporate citizenship initiatives include using advanced network technologies to optimize customer experience in using Verizon Wireless services. For this stakeholder group, the company also has specific corporate responsibility initiatives. For instance, the Verizon Innovative Learning (VIL) program provides technology, Internet access and curricula to enable educators and students in underserved areas in the United States. In addition, the company’s HopeLine gives mobile devices and financial support to domestic violence survivors and relevant organizations. Moreover, the company’s Employee Giving program facilitates employee involvement in community activities through their time, money, and skills, to address customers’ interests in how the business contributes to the improvement of their lives. The resulting satisfaction of customers’ interests aligns with Verizon Communications, Inc.’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies, especially in terms of providing high-quality services. High quality of service is a differentiating factor that empowers the company to attract and retain customers in the telecommunications market. Such corporate social responsibility satisfaction also influences the company’s strengths, such as the strong brand image of Verizon Wireless relative to other firms in the wireless telecommunications industry.

Environment. Ecological issues are significant in the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy. These issues have potential effects on the business, as shown in the PESTEL/PESTLE analysis of Verizon Communications, Inc. For example, natural disasters and the availability of renewable energy influence the infrastructure and service desirability of Verizon Wireless. In this case, the natural environment is viewed as a stakeholder because of the significance of its impact on the business. Environmental protection and conservation are major ecological interests. The company’s CSR programs to address this stakeholder group include a green energy initiative, a sustainable sourcing program, and a water conservation initiative. These corporate citizenship efforts are aimed at increasing the company’s sustainability level. For instance, Verizon reduced its carbon intensity by more than 50% from 2009 to 2016. This figure represents a decrease of at least 50% in carbon emissions for every terabyte of data transmitted through the company’s telecommunications infrastructure. Further integration of solar technology and fuel cell technology in the infrastructure also improves the satisfaction of corporate responsibilities to the environment, leading to a stronger brand image for Verizon Wireless and other divisions and subsidiaries of the business. The company continuously works on its corporate social responsibilities to ensure the satisfaction of ecological interests.

Employees. Human resources are among the main stakeholder groups included in the corporate social responsibility strategy of Verizon Communications, Inc. These stakeholders are a foundation of the business, in terms of organizational capabilities and performance quality, among other considerations. For example, employees affect the quality of the services and telecommunications infrastructure of Verizon Wireless. In the context of corporate citizenship, the interests of workers include business efforts that go beyond salaries and wages. For instance, these stakeholders are interested in human resource programs that support wellness and a healthy work-life balance. Verizon’s sustainability initiatives are also of interest to employees who prefer to work for companies that have a positive environmental impact. Moreover, career and leadership development initiatives and programs for employee morale are notable in this corporate responsibility aspect. Some of Verizon’s most important efforts for these corporate social responsibilities are policies for equal employment opportunity and pay equity, as well as family benefits that include alternative workweek programs and a parental leave policy for mothers and fathers. Furthermore, policies for diversity and inclusion, and cooperative approaches in addressing labor unions contribute to high employee morale throughout the organization and its divisions or subsidiaries like Verizon Wireless. These CSR initiatives significantly influence policies and strategies that shape Verizon’s organizational culture.

Suppliers. The main objective in dealing with this stakeholder group is to align their activities with the values of Verizon Communications, Inc. In this way, the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy extends beyond the organization, influencing other organizations and their respective CSR strategies. Suppliers significantly influence the company’s capabilities in terms of the availability of materials to support operations. For example, suppliers of wireless network technologies affect the condition of the telecommunications infrastructure of Verizon Wireless. The interest of these stakeholders is to grow their businesses by supplying their products to the company. Verizon’s corporate social responsibility strategy satisfies these interests by encouraging suppliers to enhance their CSR performance and business stability. For instance, the company’s Supplier Diversity Program encourages suppliers to optimize their human resource diversity. Also, the company’s Conflict Minerals Statement ensures the corporate citizenship of Verizon Wireless and other subsidiaries and divisions, and helps align this stakeholder group with efforts to address the problem of conflict in Congo and surrounding areas. Moreover, through a Supplier Code of Conduct, the company facilitates suppliers’ sustainability. This initiative promotes corporate citizenship among suppliers. The corporate responsibility programs used to address this stakeholder group’s interest are among the determinants of Verizon’s operations management strategy, particularly in supply chain management.

Investors. This stakeholder group significantly affects Verizon’s capitalization. Such influence leads to a corporate social responsibility strategy that aims to optimize the stability and integrity of business operations. The CSR strategy considers investors’ interests, which focus on high revenues and profits, and high business stability. To address these interests, Verizon has initiatives that build brand image and business performance. For example, corporate citizenship programs that reduce the environmental impact of Verizon Wireless improve brand image, attractiveness, and competitiveness in the wireless telecommunications market. These programs make the company more sustainable and stable in the long term. However, governance is the main corporate responsibility emphasis for this stakeholder group. For instance, all Verizon employees undergo Code of Conduct training and anti-corruption training to ensure the integrity of the business. The company also has a zero-tolerance policy for unethical business practices, such as bribery and corruption. These efforts influence the entire organization, including the policies and corporate social responsibility programs in divisions and subsidiaries like Verizon Wireless.

Verizon’s CSR Performance in Addressing Stakeholders’ Interests

With a customer-centric corporate social responsibility strategy, Verizon addresses the interests of its main stakeholders. The focus on customers’ interests facilitates high customer satisfaction and a strong brand image that attracts and retains customers, especially in the operations of Verizon Wireless in the telecommunications industry. In addition, the company’s CSR programs for sustainability satisfy not just environmentally conscious customers, but also other stakeholders. For example, the corporate citizenship efforts of Verizon Wireless address significant concerns regarding the environmental impact of the business. The same efforts satisfy customers’ interests pertaining to development linked to environmental conservation. These corporate responsibility initiatives contribute to business resilience against competition, which is a strong external force identified in the Porter’s Five Forces analysis of Verizon Communications, Inc. Despite these positive points in the company’s CSR strategy, the company can implement improvements to further increase its performance. To enhance its corporate social responsibility programs, it is recommended that Verizon:

  1. Continuously increase service quality, such as through Verizon Wireless, to maximize customer satisfaction and to maintain competitive advantages against other telecommunications firms, in light of the high competitive rivalry in the industry.
  2. Increase suppliers’ involvement in the CSR Currently, encouragement is the main thrust for this stakeholder group. Additional push may prove beneficial for all parties involved.
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