In the final part of an in-depth interview with ARN's Brian Corrigan, local Lenovo managing director, talks about environmental and social responsibility.
An environmental study of major technology vendors conducted by Greenpeace had Lenovo bottom in August 2006 but top by April 2007. We were proud of that and customers in this part of the world definitely recognise the importance of environmental concerns. When I talk to customers or partners I have no doubt it is helping influence their decisions. That's around the manufacturing process as well as reuse and the take back program.
Can you tell us a little about your take back program?
We have a partnership with [IBM] Global Finance. They have a Global Asset Recovery Service that takes back old products and sell it back into the market or dispose of it. It has been working for some time. There continues to be a healthy secondhand business. We will take back products regardless of brand and dispose of it responsibly.
So where does disposed equipment end up?
I would have to check exactly where it goes but it is done responsibly.
There's obviously a sense of environmental conscience at the moment but do you think it is a genuine purchasing decision today?
I think it's an influencer and Lenovo has some other things on top of that. Having a clean, green image is important now and into the future but the other one is corporate social responsibility. That is a global initiative where we look to give back to the communities we serve. There are a number of initiatives including Hope through Entrepreneurship where we pick people in underdeveloped countries and invest in them so they are able to contribute back to the economy. Locally, we have some things going with the Make-A-Wish Foundation [for children with life-threatening illnesses] and just recently gave a notebook to one of the little kids through that. When the Grand Prix was in Melbourne we had a little boy from Perth come out to sit in the [Williams Formula 1] car and meet the drivers. We are involved with Caring for Cambodia, which provides funding for schools. These things are all about building an external view in the market but also an internal culture. We are a separate company [from IBM] and have been in our own location for a few months. We have been building our own culture since we left IBM and are focused on being different now.
How is the Lenovo culture different from that of IBM?
We are a small to medium business ourselves in this part of the world and IBM is a large enterprise. The things that go on in organisations of such different size set us a part a little bit. For us, we can move very quickly and make decisions on the fly where maybe large organisations can't do that. I am running an SMB business so understand the challenges and can respond to them pretty effectively.
There are still huge numbers of boxes being sold every day but where does the responsibility of disposing of them lie?
There's no doubt it lies with the vendors. They need to stand up and be responsible for what they've sold and what they are going to sell in the future. There are pieces that are a little hazy like the whiteboxes out there but major vendors should be taking responsibility.
What is going to make that happen?
Legislation and we have been a supporter of that through the AIIA, which is lobbying government. We have just joined Sustainability Victoria as well because it is important to make sure debate is happening. Partnership is also a part of it to make sure vendors as a whole are taking responsibility and there is a fair arrangement that doesn't disadvantage anybody for doing the right thing.