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Case Study: Netflix’s CSR and Sustainability

CSR and Sustainability have been on the radar for quite some time now. Oftentimes, it looks like a PR marketing stunt. However, companies are shifting away from this thinking and are putting in more effort. They are integrating these initiatives into their values and culture. One such company is Netflix. Publishing a CSR and Sustainability report is one side of the coin. With Netflix, though, it’s more than just a report. The company is pretty much invested in this.

New Kid on the Block

Netflix, Inc. is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media and production company headquartered in Los Gatos, California. The company was founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley. During this time, the leading competitor Blockbuster video is a retail video rental catering to 50 million customers. However, Netflix disrupted the supply chain and started offering online streaming services leading Blockbuster to go into administration. In fact, by 2011, Netflix became the fastest streaming service provider with annual revenue of $25 billion. With over 207.6 subscribers worldwide. With the company’s success, the founders incorporate the relevance of CSR and Sustainability initiatives into the company values.

Here are the highlights of Netflix CSR’s initiatives.

Environmental Sustainability: Net Zero + Nature

The company is targeting to achieve net-zero gas emissions by end of 2022. Thus, the goal is to reduce the internal emissions by the Paris Agreement’s goal and the Science-based Target Initiative Guidance. In addition, the company is committed to investing in projects conserving at-risk natural areas like a tropical rainforest, restoring grasslands and mangroves. In addition, scientists raise awareness on how much carbon footprint we are generating by producing a documentary (My Octopus Teacher and Down to Earth with Zac Efron). The Story of Sustainability is another documentary stream by Netflix in April 2019. The documentary narrates the interdependency of Earth’s systems and living creatures.

On the other hand, in terms of its corporate operation, Netflix initiative is to:

(1) provide employee commuting options (shuttle),

(2) offer free charging and parking for electric vehicles, and

(3) install onsite solar panels providing 100% renewable energy.

For streaming delivery, Netflix opted to:

(1) install content delivery caches close to members, reducing traffic on networks, and

(2) encourage data centers and other technology partners to continue decarbonizing their energy supply and disclose details to their customers.

CSR: Community Involvement

Netflix’s carbon footprint accounts for its content creation at 50%. In order to reduce this, the company priority is to:

(1) hire a local crew to avoid travel and lodging,

(2) Install additional power at stages and use clean and silent mobile battery units, reducing the need for diesel generators, and

(3) opt into local renewable energy programs to power offices.

Moreover, by hiring local crew, they are giving back to the community. This is of course by providing jobs to the locals and generates an income. Plus reducing the carbon footprint in the process. In addition, Netflix is enforcing diversity among its content. Indeed, the company is putting more focus on racial/ethnic characters and storylines. Historically, they have been marginalized in the industry. This removes the stigma within the entertainment and film industry.

In addition, the platform focus on delivering content and raising awareness on sustainability. Contents like reducing carbon footprint, environmental protection, and climate change.

The notable ones are:

  • An Inconvenient Truth (2006) 
  • The True Cost (2015)
  • RiverBlue (2016) 
  • Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)
  • Before the Flood (2016)
  • Our Planet (2019) 
  • This Changes Everything (2015) 
  • 2040 (2019) 

Netflix's Ethical Best Practices

Diversity is celebrated on Netflix. As of 2013, almost 40% of leadership in Netflix is made up of people from one or more underrepresented racial and/or ethnic backgrounds. And this includes Black, Latinx or Hispanic, Indigenous, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Pacific Islander backgrounds. Netflix’s ethical practices include equitable pay and inclusive benefits. Equitable pay is about open compensation. The top 1,000 leaders (directors and above) can see how much the employee’s compensation was. In effect, this creates transparency. It has been done for the company to look for any pay gap and rectify it accordingly. In addition, Netflix practices inclusive benefits wherein parental leave applies to everyone, whether it is fertility, surrogacy, or adoption. Gender does not matter.

Moreover, Netflix is incorporating workshops to increase awareness of privilege and equality. In fact, they are going for a diverse workforce. Similarly, it raises awareness on equality and privilege issues, topics that are still taboo in normal conversations. In spite of the best practices, the Inclusion Strategy team plans have further plans. The goal is to increase the underrepresented race/culture background in the entertainment industry.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Netflix has gone a long way. They are not clearly using the CSR and Sustainability initiatives as a PR stunt. Climate change is real. The fact that Netflix hired a scientist to reduce their carbon emission is a milestone. Indeed, these practices offer a specific and achievable step ensuring that the target will be achieved by the date specified. Moreover, the underrepresentation of minority and ethnic groups has been silent within the industry and Netflix is taking a bold step to highlights these hidden talents. Thus, the pandemic disproportionately impacted employees from Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Not to mention people from Asian backgrounds endured xenophobic hate incidents. Finally, Netflix’s inclusion and diversity program enable minority and ethnic groups to highlight their talent and tell their story to the world.

Reference List:

Myers, V. (2021, 13 January). Sowing the seeds: inclusion takes at Netflix. Retrieved on 28 April 2021 from https://about.netflix.com/en/news/netflix-inclusion-report-2021

Netflix. (2020). Environmental Social Governance 2020: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Report. Retrieved on 20 April 2021 from https://assets.ctfassets.net/4cd45et68cgf/64MBL9uJMEi3Otk6YBSDQG/7a3edca0600f522e84ed5d127c5f24d9/0220_US_EN_Netflix_EnvironmentalSocialGovernanceReport-2020-FINAL.pdf

Netflix. (2021). Inclusion in Netflix originals US scripted series & films. Retrieved on 20 April 2021 from https://assets.ctfassets.net/4cd45et68cgf/4V7929tRhmJ3ysa6oVnq3F/284eddb84f24e4d8e4c71ec06063ddd1/Inclusion_in_Netflix_Original_Series_and_Films_Executive_Summary_2.26.21.pdf

Stewart, E. (2021, 30 March). Global Impact. Retrieved 28 April 2021 from https://about.netflix.com/en/news/net-zero-nature-our-climate-commitment

Len Peralta

About the Author

Len Peralta is the creator of LCM Digital Training. Her expertise focuses on entrepreneurship and cross-cultural communication. Follow her on Twitter @AskLenPeralta