2021
Oct.

59

BRAND PEOPLE

ESG chief committed to achieve sustainability
Interview with Delta Chief Sustainability Officer - Mr. Jesse Chou

Text by: BMD

The concept of "ESG" has been making waves around the world. In line with this trend, Delta first established its Sustainability Committee in 2007 and introduced the post of Chief Sustainability Officer in 2019 to actively promote and further its sustainable development policies. Along the way, Delta won many world-class awards and have been widely recognized globally. It has been selected as part of the World Index of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI)  for ten consecutive years. It also won the 2020 "Taiwan Corporate Sustainability Award" and ten awards from the "Global Corporate Sustainability Award". These awards helped drive concrete results in sustainability efforts also added value to the company's revenue and the brand! In this issue of "People Behind the Brand", honored guest Mr. Jesse Chou, the Chief Sustainability Officer, shares with us his journey in promoting ESG with Delta.

Chief Sustainability Officer Jesse Chou represented Delta in receiving 10 awards from the 2020 Taiwan Corporate Sustainability Awards (TCSA) and Global Corporate Sustainability Awards (GCSA)

Pragmatic, trustworthy and deeply committed to sustainability
"Pragmatism, willingness to set long-term goals, and deliver on promises; these are extremely valuable core values, whether for ESG or Delta's development. This is what I experienced with Delta and these have become part of the Delta employee's DNA," began Mr. Jesse Chou, opening the interview with these profound words.

Whether it is promoting ESG externally and communicating brand propositions, or incorporating ESG internally into Delta's DNA, the ESG Office has always spared no effort in pushing the concept. Delta’s sustainable development is based on combining business strategy with ESG while adhering to the company's mission of "protecting the environment, conserving energy, and loving the earth". In doing so, it is dedicated to providing innovative energy-saving solutions for a better future. These are the core values that guide Delta’s business development and corporate sustainability.

In order to promote ESG, it is necessary to have the support of senior management, a good executive team, as well as the necessary methods and structure. Delta first established its Sustainability Committee in 2007 and was the first company in Taiwan to set up such a committee. More than ten years have passed since it was first set up and the founder, Mr. Cheng, still holds the title of Honorary Chairman. The company President serves as the Chairman, while the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer and other high-level directors make up the committee members. Under them are the ESG Office and various project teams that serve as a think tank, as well as to provide project executives and managers, who implement ESG through promoting environment, society and governance-related projects. Through the support of Delta's senior management team, and its subsequent active promotion through internal and external communication channels for more than ten years, the concept of ESG was internalized and naturally become part and parcel of the corporate culture.

Chief Sustainability Officer (middle) joins the Sustainable Development team for a group photo: the team promotes sustainability projects from environmental (E), social (S), and governance (G) aspects

"I joined Delta in 2004," Mr. Chou recalled, "Something I will never forget is being tasked to write Taiwan's first CSR report. That was in 2005 and I wasn't able to find any reference materials, so I had to learn by doing. At the same time, Mr. Hai, who was the Chief Executive Officer then, also asked me to summarize a report on the Kyoto Protocol and share it with all my co-workers. As I had previously been working in the technology sector, I was completely baffled. How was that in any way related to the company's operations?" Time really flies. It has been more than ten years since the release of Taiwan’s first CSR report. The Kyoto Protocol unexpectedly became Delta's first foray into climate change issues. The fact that Delta has paid attention to this issue for such a long time is clear evidence of how closely integrated ESG is with Delta's DNA.

Establishing methodology from scratch and learning by doing
Delta has been paying close attention to climate change issues for many years. One of the key factors for the promotion of sustainable development was the strong support of Mr. Bruce Cheng, the founder of the Delta Group. Another key factor was Mr. Ping Cheng 's willingness to sign the "We Mean Business" agreement in 2015, which was initiated by thousands of the most influential companies around the world and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development of Enterprises, among other organizations. The agreement promises that the signing companies will actively work towards reaching the science-based carbon reduction target (SBT) in their independent carbon reduction efforts. Though Delta passed the SBTi assessment, it is committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 56.6% in 2025 from the figure achieved in 2014. In February 2018, it went a step further and became a supporter of Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). In March 2021, it announced its membership into RE100, a global renewable energy initiative. Delta has promised to achieve 100% renewable energy consumption and carbon neutrality throughout its global operations by 2030. It is the first Taiwanese high tech manufacturer to commit to achieving the RE100 and carbon neutral goals by 2030.

"Too many international standards have popped up over the years, but Delta has been keeping abreast with the key initiatives," remarked Mr. Chou, "Not only must we meet these standards, we have to also make sure that every figure has been verified by a third party. That means that not only does Delta ESG have to achieve those figures, it also has to ensure that the results are verifiable to as large an extent as possible." Over the years, Delta has participated in various international evaluations. The purpose was not to get a score, but rather, to "realign" itself. In particular, the World Index of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) is looked upon highly by Delta and other companies. It also focuses on various sustainability topics every year that keeps pace with the times. This is the best form of ESG "self-evaluation" and Delta conducts its yearly self-evaluations based on this benchmark.

Delta's management team attends the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) at Paris, and Delta signs "We Mean Business" in the same year to show our commitment to supporting alignment with the international community through ESG actions

Ask to describe Delta's journey towards sustainable development in one sentence, Mr. Chou said, "There was no methodology to make reference to at the beginning, and it was an rough journey." Today, Delta's ESG has been rated as an international benchmark, and many international companies interested in ESG, but unsure of how to begin incorporating it have started looking at Delta as a case study. Mr. Chou distills the key factors, "Creating a strategy and setting goals might be difficult, but they are essential steps." In terms of sustainable development within the company, Delta currently has goals, lessons, ideas, and experience, and is gradually cultivating the ability to move from having multiple separate goals to working towards the ultimate goal. This is the result of Delta's strong ESG execution.

Gaining insight into opportunities amidst challenges and making advanced preparations for Delta's future sustainability
While promoting ESG, Delta is also actively seeking new business opportunities from it, resulting in an endless stream of new challenges. As Delta has a global presence with a large number of geographically dispersed factories, it is impossible to concentrate their energy consumption. As such, the biggest challenges currently facing Delta are how to purchase green energy-related products in the different countries that it operates and how to narrow the gap between the rate of energy consumption and the rate of power generation to achieve a better match score.

"While there are many challenges, these bring with them opportunities. When it comes to market demand, Delta often prepares makes advanced preparations." During the interview, Mr. Chou expressed that he was not worried about difficulties. Rather, he had the calm composure of a veteran. These new business opportunities include how to solve the problem of power distribution and improve the match score, as well as helping customers who have encountered difficulties to solve their problems.

The policy of "advanced preparation" has been a factor for many successful ESG cases, and these have left a deep impression on Mr. Chou. Recently, international consumer electronics brand customers have requested that Delta switch to using 100% renewable electricity to produce their products within a very short period of time. Mr. Chou mentioned that in the face of sudden "resolute policy changes" from customers, Delta is still mostly able to prepare ahead of time to quickly respond to and solve these problems. However, when dealing with the many requirements of customers, it is inevitable to feel frustrated sometimes. However, as Delta's charismatic Chief Sustainability Officer, he is still determined to enthusiastically lead the team in overcoming difficulties, one after another.

Delta’s ESG strategy aligns with international trends and carries out relevant actions in our business operations. Wujiang factory with the built-in solar power increases the usage rate of green energy.

"I am most grateful to have the support of the management team and the heads of the various business groups!" stated Mr. Chou humbly. Taking the internal carbon fee levied on various BGs as an example, even if it was to erode the profits of the various business units, the resistance encountered when communicating the policy was still much smaller than imagined. The endless stream of stories is a testament to the fact that Delta has been successfully passing down the spirit and culture of sustainability over the past 50 years. It looks forward to taking on the next 50 years through diversified channels and methods that are more advanced in quality, depth, and breadth.