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Companies engaging with their investors helps them understand the importance and benefits of investing with an ESG focus.

Suzanne Fallender is Director of Corporate Responsibility for Intel Corporation. In her role, Suzanne collaborates with key stakeholders across the company to integrate corporate responsibility into company strategies, policies, communications, and stakeholder engagement processes in order to create positive social impact and business value. She also works closely with Intel’s investor relations and corporate governance groups to drive an integrated outreach approach with investors on ESG issues. Suzanne has more than 20 years of experience in the field of corporate responsibility and socially responsible investment, and prior to her time at Intel, served as Vice President at Institutional Shareholder Services where she managed the firm’s socially responsible investing division. She holds an M.B.A. from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and has served on a number of leading industry advisory boards and committees on sustainability and corporate responsibility over the past decade.

Irving S. Gomez is an Assistant Corporate Secretary and Managing Counsel in the Corporate Legal Group for Intel Corporation. Irving is responsible for the company’s corporate-level legal activities, including certain securities filings with the SEC, providing advice and counsel to the Board, the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee and senior management in the areas of emerging corporate governance, securities laws, and executive compensation. He leads the proxy statement team, is legal lead of Intel’s annual stockholders meeting, and part of Intel’s integrated stockholder outreach team. Prior to joining Intel, Irving was in private practice working on a variety of matters including venture investments, mergers & acquisitions, and financing transactions as an Associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. Irving earned his B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, his J.D. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, and his LL.M. degree in Taxation from New York University School of Law.


Christopher P. Skroupa: In what ways does Intel engage in the ESG conversations with investors? Were you responding to investor demand or recognizing the value of ESG and incorporating it prior to their expressed interest?

Suzanne Fallender: Intel has undertaken proactive outreach on ESG issues to investors for many years and we have seen demand for information and engagement increase over time. We actually started our annual outreach roadshow more than 15 years ago—in the early years, we met with a core group of socially responsible investors and research firms, and in recent years we have had more mainstream investors participate and engage with us. A little over a year ago we took a closer look at how we could achieve even greater impact through greater integration of our engagement, transparency, and accountability activities. We developed a joint plan with shared goals, set regular monthly sync calls, and began attending external events and calls with investors jointly. We significantly expanded our annual ESG roadshow by doubling the number of firms we met with and adding meetings both on the West Coast and in Europe.

Irving Gomez: On your question of investor demand, one of the things we have learned as we have increased our integrated outreach—especially as we have engaged with more mainstream investors—is that sometimes investors initially will say they are not interested in discussing ESG issues, but having Suzanne at the meetings prompted additional questions and led to good follow-up discussions.

 

Skroupa: How has your approach to disclosure changed as you have driven greater integration?

Fallender: Earlier this year, we relaunched our investor relations website,  intc.com, with increased integration of ESG information and we continued to deepen our existing integrated reporting strategy with greater integration and alignment across our 10-K/Annual Report, Proxy Statement, and annual Corporate Responsibility Report, which was released last month and utilizes the new GRI Standards and maps our strategies to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Skroupa: One of the things you seem to have effectively done is to bring sustainability and investor relations together and that potentially is very challenging in some corporate environments. What is it that helped make it work for you at Intel?

Gomez: While there are many more companies doing integrated outreach than in the past, it is still a fairly new area for many firms. We have always had a strong working relationship between our Investor Relations, Corporate Responsibility Office, and Corporate Secretary’s office—good lines of communication and support of each other’s activities. It did take our leadership coming together to say that there is greater value for us to work together than continuing to just work alongside each other. I think the more strategic integration over the past year has led to more integrated thinking across our teams by listening to each other, reviewing the same trends, information, discussing questions from investors—it builds business acumen across the teams.  It also requires trust and collaboration across the team members, just like with any cross-functional effort.

 

Skroupa: So talk to me a bit about how you connect the dots with ESG as a value play and what it means for investors?

Fallender: A few years ago, we developed a framework to help articulate the ways in which ESG issues create value for the company and our stockholders: how our focus helps us better mitigate risks, reduce costs, build brand value, and identify new market opportunities. We set goals and report on our performance in environmental sustainability, supply chain responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and social impact, and then discuss for each how our actions map to those value drivers. In addition, we regularly assess new opportunities to apply our technology to address environmental and societal challenges in ways that create shared value.

 

Skroupa: How have you seen the ESG conversation evolve in the governance community in recent years?

Gomez: We have seen the governance dialogue expand—at industry conferences, on investor calls, and in disclosure best practices—to include greater discussion of environmental and social factors, including the level of integration of these factors into the board oversight processes and also executive compensation. We were early adopters in this space. Back in 2003, we assigned our Board’s Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee formal responsibility for reviewing and reporting to the Board on corporate responsibility and sustainability issues, and since 2008 we have linked a portion of every employee and executive’s compensation to corporate responsibility metrics. We are now seeing more companies moving in this direction, and we are also seeing expectations for companies continue to increase, from questions on how the boards look at climate change to board diversity discussions.

 

Skroupa: What about broader stakeholders? How would you define your stakeholders, and what impact do they have on ESG efforts?

Fallender: We broadly define our stakeholders as individuals and groups who are either directly impacted by our business or have the ability to impact our own business success. Beyond investors, we also proactively engage with our employees, customers, suppliers, governments/NGOs, and communities. We use a variety of methods for engaging with our stakeholders which we outline in detail in our Corporate Responsibility Report and we also leverage social media channels and online tools to drive a two-way dialogue. We also developed a website called Exploreintel.com which provides real-time disclosure of environmental information and feedback options about our manufacturing sites around the world. As a technology company, we continue to look for ways to enhance our engagement and disclosure by leveraging the power of technology.