The future of the technology industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with environmental, social and governance (ESG) being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on telecom infrastructure companies. A detailed analysis of the theme, insights into the leading companies, and their thematic and valuation scorecards are included in GlobalData’s thematic research report,ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Telecoms and Technology – Thematic Research.  Buy the report here.

ESG is the most important strategic theme of the decade. Companies must perform well in all areas of ESG; being a laggard in any one of the 12 pillars outlined in GlobalData’s ESG framework will hurt their brand reputation and, ultimately, profits. Increasingly, ESG will also play a growing role in attracting both investment and talent. All significant technology companies have a stated commitment to ESG, but their goals, delivery, and reporting can vary substantially. 


To date, the technology sector has been a leader in ESG as it is at the cutting edge of combining the digital economy and delivering 21st -century employment and governance standards. Technology is also core to many aspects of recording and measuring ESG performance and enabling ESG as a service up and down the value and supply chains. Technology companies that understand, engage with, and prove ESG initiatives and targets will remain in the game: it is not a question of if or when—it is existential, and it is happening now. 

However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.  

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, ESG in Telecoms and Technology, leading adopters include: Cisco, Intel, Nokia, Ericsson, Rakuten, HPE and Fujitsu. 

Insights from top ranked companies  


Environmental: Cisco has committed to reaching net zero for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all Scopes by 2040. Cisco’s current target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 60% by the end of 2022 has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). Cisco has also committed to reducing its use of virgin plastic by 20% and foam in product packaging by 75% and will increase product packaging cube efficiency by 50% by the end of 2025.  

Social: Cisco made cash and in-kind contributions of $477m in 2021 for community programmes by the company and the Cisco Foundation.  

Governance: Cisco has committed to achieving a 25% increase in the representation of employees identified as AA/Black from entry to manager level, and a 75% increase from director to VP level by the end of 2023. Cisco has also made a $159m commitment to support historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the US. As well as this, Cisco has an online ESG reporting hub. 


Environmental: Ericsson has a long-term ambition to be net zero across its value chain by 2040. In the meantime, it has been working towards cutting its emissions by 50% in its supply chain and portfolio by 2030, with a goal of being net zero by 2030.  

Social: As part of the World Economic Forum-aligned EDISON Alliance 1 Billion Lives Challenge, Ericsson announced a commitment to empower one million young people with digital learning and skills by 2025.  

Governance: Ericsson continued to strengthen its ‘Ethics and Compliance’ programme to ensure an effective and sustainable anti-corruption compliance programme by 2022, which is timely given recent news about making payments to the terror group Isis in Iraq. 


Environmental: Nokia joined RE100, a global initiative led by the Climate Group, and has a target of 100% renewable electricity usage by 2025. As part of its SBTi, Nokia has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2019 to 2030. Nokia launched its next-generation AirScale 5G portfolio powered by ReefShark technology that reduces power consumption by 75%. It has also trialled its Liquid Cooling AirScale baseband solution that reduces energy consumption by up to 90% compared to traditional gas air-conditioning systems (with KDDI).  

Social: Nokia is looking to bridge the digital divide through technology for rural and urban areas, to improve the lives of 1.5 million people in this way by 2025.  

Governance: Nokia aimed to hire a minimum percentage of 26% female employees by the end of 2021. It has also signed the Women Empowerment Principle and agreed to collaborate with UN Women on four new projects to improve gender equality and promote diversity. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG in Telecoms and Technology.  

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