Iris Liu is the Vice President at Taiwan Mobile (TWM), the second largest telecom company in Taiwan. She joined in 2014, the year that Taiwan Mobile formed its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) steering committee. Iris oversees sustainability, brand management, public relations, as well as the TWM Foundation. This allows her to create synergies within the company and develop multiple-win projects. Taiwan Mobile has become a pioneer of sustainability and innovation in Taiwan’s telecom sector, not only reducing environmental impact but also actively creating shared value. CAPS spoke to Iris Liu in January 2022 to understand Taiwan Mobile’s journey towards sustainability.
CAPS: Thank you, Iris, for sitting down with us. You started with Taiwan Mobile at the beginning of their sustainability journey. Can you share an important learning from the past eight years with the company?
Iris: Without a doubt, it is the importance of leaving no one behind in our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) planning. Everyone in the company must be on the same page and recognize the same goal. We really struggled in the first two years because people didn’t know what they should do. It took many workshops to communicate with our employees and the steering committee, as well as our executives. This process helped us to get everyone on the same page.
CAPS: How has Taiwan Mobile crafted its ESG strategy and goals?
Iris: We update our strategy annually through a collaborative process with employees. Every year, we hold key workshops where around 200 executives gather to learn about the company’s ESG focus. This year the focus of the workshop is on Net Zero planning for 2050. We examine 52 KPIs for sustainability across the company and ask ourselves whether these are achievable and ambitious enough. Then at the end of the year, we review our progress and each business unit is assessed on its ESG performance. For instance, one of the KPIs I set for my team was to complete 50 hours of training, which they surpassed.
TWM also asked employees to “imagine the year 2030” when creating long-term goals, which helped shape the direction of our ESG strategy. TWM aims to reduce its footprint and be a responsible business. Overall, we emphasized staff working together to reach goals, and routinely updated them to respond to the changing world. Along the way, we offer many educational classes, movies related to ESG, and training support for our employees to integrate sustainability into their thinking and work.
CAPS: Who provides these workshops and classes? And when your team needs support, who can you turn to?
Iris: Since sustainability is integrated into our employees’ daily work and responsibilities, a lot of the classes are delivered internally by Human Resources. We also offer online training. In fact, during Covid-19, this option made it easier for our employees to participate because they could choose their preferred time and select what they wanted to learn. We also have an external consultant, KPMG, and we consider their advice when creating projects. And, luckily, our team always has strong support from other business units like Technical Group, Information and Technology Group, Customer Business Group etc. that give us all the resources we needed in every different projects. Most important and strongest support is from our president, our chairman, and the Board.
CAPS: Can you tell us about some of the projects that you’ve been doing as a result of this work?
Iris: Yes, for example Solar for Good. Sunnyfounder, a social enterprise, helps people develop solar energy projects in Taiwan. Sunnyfounder identifies non-profit organizations (NPOs) with available rooftop space where solar panels can be built. Sunnyfounder then attracts investments to build the infrastructure, and the energy generated by the solar panels can either be used by the NPO or sold to generate income
When I heard about this project I was immediately excited as we had a previous campaign where NT$2 from the sale of any device through Taiwan Mobile’s channels went towards developing green power and I wanted to create greater synergy by merging the two concepts. We could use the technical knowledge from Sunnyfounder to build solar panels on NPOs’ rooftops. TWM would donate one million NTD on each project and help raise money to support more NPOs to install solar panels. We named this project as “Solar for Good”.
We started “Solar for Good” since 2017, help 5 NPOs raised over NTD 24 million to build up the solar energy systems and generate over 1.4m kWh of green electricity, with more than NTD 8 million revenue accumulated till now for those five NPOs. In 20 years, the estimated total revenue for those five NPOs will be around NTD 63.21 million and approximately 9.36 million kWh of green electricity will be generated, equivalent to carbon reduction of 4907 tons of CO2e. That means that we guarantee a 20-years stable income for those NPOs and also benefit our planet with more clean energy at the same time.
CAPS: You’re creating a win-win-win for the NPOs, the community, and the environment. That is wonderful.
Iris: Thank you. For us, the win-win-win is very important. Not only are we helping to boost renewable energy, we are also helping NPOs. We also saw invisible benefits. The solar panels on the rooftops lowered the temperature of the whole building by 3-4 degrees, and so the energy consumed by the NPOs was also reduced.
CAPS: We also heard about your fiber optics project, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Iris: Three years ago we started the Circular Economy Forum. At the time, our performance on circular economy and waste management was not good enough, so we wanted to force ourselves to be better. We co-worked with KPMG and host the first forum, made a declaration with our suppliers that we would become more circular. In the second year, we consulted with our technical group to see what kind of waste we were producing and try to figure out the item that we can start our efforts with. They noted that we produced a lot of waste fiber optic cables (FOC) and identified a company, Miniwiz, researching to reduce waste. We now work with Miniwiz as well as Chang Gung University to identify how fiber optic waste cables can be turned into new products.
In a follow-up interview with Arthur Huang, CEO of Miniwiz, in February 2022, CAPS learned that as a result of this project collaboration, Miniwiz developed the technology to take FOC waste and turn it into brick and rebar substitutes. Instead of sourcing steel for construction projects, for example, a builder might source FOC “rebar” instead, which is stronger and more water-resistant than steel.
CAPS: What has been the most rewarding part of being part of TWM’s sustainability journey?
Iris: The change in people. In our steering committee, I can see that each executive is really trying to learn more about sustainability: recognizing the issue of climate change, methods used to reduce carbon emissions, and so on. But this change was not limited to the executive team, the employees also changed. In less than 3 years we have seen employees really becoming interested in integrating ESG in their work. So, I would say the biggest achievement is that we set our goals and did it together.