Symantec
November 2011
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Stakeholder Perspective: A Good Balance Of Quantitative And Narrative Data

  
 
Kathrin Winkler, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at EMC Corporation, reviewed the report as a whole and focused her comments on the community section.
 
Overall, Symantec has produced a very good report. The expected elements of good reporting practice are largely present: the discussion of materiality, performance on material issues, and objectives and goals for the coming years. The report discusses some challenges—for example, the difficulty of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions as it grows its data-center business—in a straightforward and honest manner. Though highlighting challenges is, for any company, a challenge in itself, Symantec should consider expanding this kind of discussion to each section of the report and communicate to stakeholders how it is addressing them.
 
Given that stakeholders tend to read reports to understand performance on a particular issue or to evaluate the company as a whole, they may find frustrating the division between the discussion of materiality in Symantec’s report and the materiality information contained on the website. It would be useful if the expanded materiality information could live, if not in the report proper, in an appendix to the report rather than only on the website.
 
The community section offers substantive information and presents quantitative data to support the narrative. For example, Symantec breaks out the sources of its employee giving and the categories of recipients of its corporate giving. The report is somewhat inconsistent, however, in discussing the relationship of initiatives to corporate responsibility priorities. The report notes that grant-making is limited to initiatives that advance company priorities but, in the example it cites (partnership with One Economy), fails to show that connection. In future reporting, the company should clarify how initiatives support strategic priorities.
 
As in the community section, the report overall provides a good balance between quantitative and narrative data, and the narrative discussions were quite substantive. Symantec should strive to keep this balance between substantive narrative and quantitative information in its next full, GRI-based Corporate Responsibility Report.

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