Viasat’s 2022 Environmental, Social, Governance impact report puts its primary focus on two critical areas where Viasat is well-positioned to make a difference: safe, sustainable access to space and digital inclusion.
The report defines Viasat’s commitment to a set of principles, with each subsequent report showing how the company’s acted on and advanced toward those goals. Viasat released its inaugural ESG report in 2021.
CEO Mark Dankberg has emerged as a leading voice on space sustainability, recently penning an editorial for the Financial Times on the topic.
“Space is a shared resource which must remain available to all nations,” he wrote. “Concern about the over-exploitation of limited space resources is growing rapidly … We must find a way to share these limited natural resources equitably and with regard for the consequences of their use.”
Dankberg also wrote about the issue in an introductory letter in the 2022 ESG report, which includes a section dedicated to space sustainability.
“Since we introduced the topic last year, we have been encouraged by the number of influential organizations who have recognized the critical importance of setting global space policies and management for what we collectively send into space,” he wrote. “We are working closely with experts around the world to develop standards and regulations that will help ensure it will remain accessible to and equitable for all.”
Viasat is also committed to helping narrow the digital divide. An estimated 37% of the world’s population – or 2.9 billion people – have still never used the internet.
Digital inclusion means helping to provide access to life-changing digital resources such as healthcare, economic opportunity, and education. The upcoming ViaSat-3 constellation and the company’s partnerships with internet providers around the world will help position Viasat to help reach the world’s remaining unserved and underserved populations. That ability is expected to grow dramatically when the first ViaSat-3 satellite goes into service — expected in 2023 —and continue around the globe as the other two satellites are launched to provide additional coverage capacity.
Nearly half of the capacity of the ViaSat-3 fleet is expected to be available in unserved and underserved markets where many people are unconnected.
Viasat’s 2022 ESG report details the company’s continuing quest to offer more bandwidth at lower cost. “A key component of Viasat’s strategy is our focus on bandwidth productivity — our ability to deliver more bandwidth to the unserved and underserved population per unit of capital and operating costs than any other space provider.”
In addition to connecting people to high-speed internet at a reasonable price, Viasat is seeking ways to help disadvantaged communities solve other problems that affect their ability to connect. That can mean adding solar power to areas that are off the grid, donating devices, or providing technical expertise.
Since 2016, Viasat has installed hotspot services in communities across Mexico, Brazil, and Guatemala. People living in these areas can prepay for service and connect their device to the hotspot. It’s typically the only way to access service in these areas. The company plans to keep adding these sites in more underserved areas with ViaSat-3.
“Connectivity is a fundamental precursor for economic prosperity,” the report reads. “It empowers people to share ideas, keep in touch, stay safe, and connect with a world of opportunity.”
That’s true not just in everyday life, but during crisis situations. Viasat and its service retailers regularly respond to wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters — providing emergency connections in the early, most urgent hours after disaster strikes, or in the chaos of war. When war broke out in Ukraine, Viasat partnered with leaders in a border community in Slovakia, donating free internet to refugees there.
All those efforts around the globe start with Viasat’s employees.
The company’s success springs from employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and constantly strives to enhance that mix.
“The diversity of our people is one of our most treasured assets; we want our people to represent the communities we serve,” the report reads.
To that end, Viasat is embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) into all aspects of its business — from hiring employees to preparing future leaders. To ensure the diversity in its talent pipeline, the company is connecting with institutions that serve minorities, programs aimed at underrepresented students, and diversity-focused campus organizations.
Once on board, employees are offered career development programs. In 2022, it added a Women’s Leadership Program, which earned positive feedback from participants. Viasat is hosting a second session of the program later this year and plans a third in 2023.
Statistics and company surveys also suggest Viasat employees like working here. In a recent survey, 77% said they felt valued. And a total of 8.3% of all current employees are boomerangs: those who left the company and then chose to come back.
That’s likely in part of the company’s benefits and wellness offerings, packages shaped by employee feedback that focus not just on the body but the mind and spirit.
Concern for employees’ health and wellbeing means Viasat has adopted a flexible work schedule in the wake of the pandemic, letting employees find a work/life balance that keeps them both comfortable and productive.
Viasat also encourages and supports its employees in becoming involved in their communities, as volunteers and mentors, and in supporting the causes they believe in through a donation and volunteer match program.
In addition to the sustainability measures discussed above, which have obvious implications for the environment, Viasat is focused on the impact that its corporate practices have on the environment.
As Viasat continues to better understand and track its environmental impacts through greenhouse gas accounting across the supply chain, it is making plans to take more comprehensive steps to reduce their footprint, and share progress and goals later this year. It’s dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting recycling — including recycling and reducing e-waste — and pushing “ourselves to operate efficiently, use resources responsibly and limit our greenhouse gas footprint.”
Viasat prides itself on leading with integrity. That includes regular meetings with stakeholders, taking steps to ensure board members are diverse and largely independent. Average tenure has also been reduced.
The company’s Guide to Business Conduct, which applies to all employees, outlines principles for conducting business with honesty and integrity. An ethics committee oversees ethics and compliance with corporate values, laws and policies, and employees are required to take regular ethics training.
“We encourage accountability, transparency and trust at every level,” the report states. “We want to make it intuitive and non-intimidating for people to raise questions.”
Viasat’s top priorities include data privacy and security — for employees, customers, and stakeholders. These are areas in which the company is constantly improving. Ongoing initiatives include an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) audit, review processes to assess products and services as well as new technology providers, data privacy, and security training for all new employees.
Satellite networks are inherently more robust against natural and manmade disasters than terrestrial alternatives, and well-positioned for quick deployment in areas where terrestrial infrastructure has been damaged or disrupted.
Nevertheless, the company has increased its focus on disaster preparedness, recovery, and network resiliency, with the goal of maintaining service for not only its customers but critical communications as well. That includes making changes to both satellite and ground infrastructure and building new technology to make disaster recovery fast and seamless.
It’s also planning for future extreme spikes in demand, like those experienced in the early days of the pandemic as people transitioned to working and attending classes from home.
“It’s clear the world is never going to go back fully to the pre-pandemic landscape for work, socialization and education,” the report states. “Viasat is investing in long-term infrastructure that supports what’s now and what’s next.”
Learn more about the report here.