When Utaukwa Allen arrived at Kyndryl as Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Citizenship & ESG in 2021, her email was already filled with ideas and suggestions from employees on how the company could positively impact the world.

“It was great to come into an environment of builders devoted to driving systemic change and building a purpose-driven company,” said Allen. “On our first anniversary, the value of embedding corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) into Kyndryl’s DNA has been clear from the start.”

Here, Allen looks back at the first year of Kyndryl, and shares how its 90,000 employees guided several initiatives for progress and growth.

Many businesses are prioritizing their CSR and ESG impact these days. Why is social responsibility so important?
In Kyndryl’s early days, we conducted a materiality assessment, employee volunteerism and giving survey, and extensive stakeholder research to serve as a foundation to build our CSR and ESG strategy. With three impact areas in place – future forward education, climate action and inclusive economy — we have a strategy for impact shaped by the participation of Kyndryls and other stakeholders globally. We have worked restlessly over the past year to learn and invest in implementing a vision for CSR and ESG initiatives that resonates both within Kyndryl and with our partners, customers and communities.

Did Kyndryl launch as a purpose-driven company?
People are at the center of our drive to make an impact and prioritizing our role as a service-driven company differentiates us. While others had to integrate a purpose into their legacy operations, Kyndryl built those principles into our core from the beginning.

What were some important CSR milestones Kyndryl hit along the way?
After launching Deed, our CSR platform, 24% of employees registered within six months of the launch. Organizing over 30 volunteer campaigns around the world and directing support to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations, Kyndryls have led the way with their service mindset, individually and collectively. To celebrate Kyndryl’s anniversary, over 50 in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities will launch around the world in the next few weeks.

As you look ahead, what is Kyndryl doing to cultivate future social leaders?
At Kyndryl, we foster an environment where curiosity and learning thrive to inspire the next generation of agents of change. True to that spirit, we launched the Changemakers series, inviting preeminent leaders in social and environmental impact to engage with employees and inspire the future leaders sitting in our organisation — because that’s who we are, people of progress. We also formed partnerships with Echoing Green and Athari Group, two organizations supporting the next generation of social entrepreneurs who drive innovative solutions to social issues around the world.  

Tell us what Kyndryl is doing in the carbon literacy space?
In response to Kyndryls’ eagerness to lean into environmental issues, we launched an interactive training and certification program to become carbon literate and to help our employees commit to lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon footprint at home and work. These actions led to the attainment of Carbon Literate Organization Certification status in the UK and USA, as awarded by the Carbon Literacy Trust.

That’s a lot in one year. What’s next?
As we move into our second year, launching a foundation will formalize our efforts to advance more inclusive economies within Kyndryls’ communities globally. Our rich culture of service and volunteerism will integrate into a holistic approach to create long-term, sustainable investment and drive change. Looking ahead to 2023, we will call for applications and distribute our first round of grants to nonprofits aligned with our mission.

In the future, the launch of a foundation, the release of our Human Rights policy and first ESG report, and other exciting initiatives further our engagement beyond today. Going beyond successful initiatives and fully integrating our ESG and CSR efforts across business, employee, and community needs truly puts Kyndryl at the heart of progress.