A strategy to shape a sustainable future

Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telecoms company, has been committed to sustainability for a quarter of a century and has set ambitious targets across three main areas for 2025, including becoming carbon neutral across its entire Swiss business


At Swisscom we want to embrace all the opportunities the digital transformation has to offer to boost Switzerland’s prosperity but we’re committed to minimising its potential risks, protecting the environment and creating a fairer world.

Our sustainability journey began in 1998 when we were the first telecoms company to gain ISO 14001 environmental management system certification. This provides assurance to both internal and external stakeholders that the company’s environmental impact is being measured and improved effectively. Since 2010 we’ve only used energy from renewable sources, including electricity we produce ourselves from the 104 photovoltaic plants we operate.

Other milestones include launching our mobile phone recycling programme, Swisscom Mobile Aid, in 2012, opening one of the most modern and energy efficient data centres in Europe in 2014, rolling out energy efficient cooling systems for our mobile phone stations in 2018 and putting 100 electric vehicles into operation in 2021. Since 2022, our subscriptions, network and devices have been carbon neutral and our customers enjoy carbon neutral internet surfing, streaming and calls.

In 2023 we were delighted to be named the world’s most sustainable telecoms company in the World Finance Sustainability Awards for the third time in a row. This award confirms that we are on the right track towards achieving our ambitious sustainability goals. Each recognition motivates us to work even harder and to consistently pursue the goals we have set.

We believe that digitisation can promote sustainability. We’re part of the ‘Digital with Purpose’ Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). This requires telecoms companies to make a significant contribution as an industry to achieving the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030 by taking steps in areas such as protecting the environment and operating sustainably. We want the networked world to be accessible to everyone but also to highlight the risks of participation, such as encountering fake news and cyberbullying, and the misuse of personal data, to help people protect themselves.

New sustainability strategy
After Swisscom adopted five new group goals in 2021, which came into effect in January 2022, we decided to review the sustainability strategy we launched in 2018 to align it with these goals more closely and address both the environmental changes and the changes in the requirements of stakeholders that had taken place since.

We want to become carbon neutral across the entire value chain of our business

We carried out in-depth analysis in four areas that included identifying the strategy’s strengths and weaknesses where we found that some areas had grown in importance. These were staff-related issues, such as diversity and the future of work, data protection and security, governance and corporate ethics. We also identified challenges in our aims to have a bigger impact in the area of CO2 reporting and reduction with suppliers.
As a result, we adjusted our strategy to include two new ‘for the people’ issues – employer attractiveness and diversity, and equal opportunities – also addressing the issues of corporate ethics and data protection and security. The existing environmental aspects of climate change, renewable energies, energy efficiency and the circular economy were left unchanged.

Our new strategy, entitled ‘Responsibility means moving forward – now not someday,’ is based on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals and outlines targets for 2025 that will have an impact either within Swisscom or outside it. They can be divided into three areas – responsibility for the environment, responsibility for the people and responsibility through action.

Responsibility for the environment
To help cap the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius, we want to become carbon neutral across the entire value chain of our business in Switzerland by 2025 – a step towards our ultimate goal of net zero across the whole group by 2035, including the Italian subsidiary Fastweb, which offers fixed-line mobile and communications services. By 2025, our operational CO2 emissions will be more than 90 percent lower than in 1990. We’ll also save one million tons of CO2 a year together with our customers. This is the equivalent of two percent of Switzerland’s CO2 emissions.

We aim to meet these targets by continuing to use only 100 percent renewable electricity in our business and improving energy efficiency by 20 percent compared to 2020, including through fresh air cooling for our mobile network, electrifying our vehicle fleet, using heat pumps and reducing our CO2 emissions through carbon reduction programmes with suppliers. We use a circular approach to our own products where we consistently use recycled plastics. Our long-term goal is for all our own-brand products to be fully recyclable.

Other ways we’re working towards carbon neutrality are through innovative data centres and by using waste heat and generating solar power. We’ll offset all the unavoidable emissions that remain. To develop the circular economy further, we’ll use Mobile Aid to improve the longevity of mobile phones and bring used resources back into circulation through repair, reuse and recycling. These aims are desirable from an economic as well as an ecological perspective.

Outside Swisscom, we’ll empower our customers to reduce their own CO2 emissions through products and services, such as digital solutions for working from anywhere and Internet of Things-supported services to remotely optimise and monitor vehicles, buildings and devices to reduce their emissions.

Responsibility for the people
In my role as Head of Sustainability and also as a mother of two children, I see the importance of strengthening media literacy in society. This is why our explicit goal is to support two million people a year in the use of digital media by 2025 at the latest. We also want to promote diversity and inclusion at Swisscom as a workplace by offering attractive working conditions, opportunities for flexible working and equal opportunities.

We want to become one of the top three Swiss information and communication technology (ICT) employers and will use our career portal and social media to promote Swisscom as one of the best. Employees benefit from a great working environment with opportunities to promote their health, network internally and volunteer. Working conditions are fair.

We aim to inspire talented people, including young talent, to join the company and develop them for the future. We will increase the proportion of employees under 40 and women working for Swisscom in management and at all other levels – we have targets around the recruitment process, promotion and succession planning to help us boost the proportion of women. We also provide education and training days to add to the employability of staff.

To support people in their use of digital media and strengthen their skills, we’ll use our Swisscom Campus portal to provide opportunities for training and learning to children, young people, parents and older people, helping them to benefit from digital media while using it safely. We also offer technical solutions and guidance and our call centre employees go above and beyond in helping customers with their questions in this area.

We want to expand ultra-fast broadband with the goal of 50–55 percent coverage for homes and businesses at speeds of 10Gbps and are continuing to expand the fibre-optic network (fibre to the home or FTTH) to achieve this. This will make our services more accessible and boost competitiveness, digital fitness and quality of life in Switzerland.

Responsibility through action
Ethical working practices have become increasingly important for companies and brands and we want to meet the high standards our stakeholders expect. We operate according to ethical principles and train all our employees in them.

Data ethics is a new issue in our updated sustainability strategy, encompassing data security and data protection. We train our employees each year in how to handle data and work in a lawful and value-orientated way. We also provide training for cyber security specialists.

We’re committed to ensuring fair working conditions and protecting human rights for workers throughout our supply chain. We monitor how well our supply partners comply with social and ecological standards to verify this. By 2025, our goal is to improve the working conditions of 150,000 people involved in our supply chains each year.

A vision for the future
Our sustainability strategy recognises that digitisation is rapidly changing our society and economy for the better but that there are also risks that need to be addressed and minimised. As a business we need to constantly adapt to this fast-moving environment and help to educate people to use digital media effectively while protecting themselves from potential harms.

Swisscom has an important role in influencing and accelerating digitisation so it’s essential that we do this sustainably to protect people and the planet and safeguard all our futures. The expectations and needs of our customers and other external stakeholders are changing in terms of sustainability and by working with them we can identify the key issues we need to focus on. We’re proud to lead the way in developing and implementing the highest standards in this area.