The ESG contrast between Michael Dell and Elon Musk


Elon Musk has publicly stated that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts are “a scam” that has been “weaponized by fake social justice warriors”.

If we were back in the early 2000s, he would have been right. At the time, Dell’s official ESG plan was to plant a tree for every compliant sale. Entities carrying out eco-based social justice programs were infamous for supporting those who paid them and punishing those who did not, with little impact on true sustainability.

But that was then, and now companies like Dell, HP and Lenovo are bringing in billions of dollars in incremental sales through genuine ESG efforts. These efforts have a significant impact on the amount of waste released into the environment.

What I find ironic is that the two CEOs, Musk, whose efforts at Tesla and Hyperloop benefit from the global attention to sustainability, seem to be anti-sustainability, while Michael Dell, where ESG n is not a natural sales driver for his business, is all about preserving the planet.

Let’s contrast these two CEOs’ focus on sustainability this week, and we’ll end with my new favorite part of Office 365, Microsoft Designer, the AI-driven DALL-E 2 solution that is my product of the week.

The lack of irony in tech’s ESG focus

Last week, Dell hosted its post-Dell Technologies World event to answer any lingering questions from the press and analyst communities.

Dell was recently ranked as the most popular workspace, not Apple, not Amazon, not Facebook – who didn’t even make the ranking, and one of which is facing a massive increase in business union. Amazon and Facebook are newer than Dell, and Apple is more popular with users, and yet those three are anything but employee-friendly, especially post-pandemic.

It’s also fascinating that none of Elon Musk’s various companies made this list either, but Musk has a reputation for treating employees poorly. During the pandemic, it resisted California’s safety guidelines and has since moved its headquarters to Texas, which tends to fall below California in employee care and sustainability efforts. Musk clearly has his priorities straight, and he tends to put employee care and sustainability below what most big tech companies do.

Now this is not ironic because tech companies tend to focus only on metrics, and they measure almost everything. Dell has been particularly aggressive in implementing measures over the years and has shown this by understanding what matters to stakeholders (employees, customers, partners, investors) and crafting policies that would benefit them.

Why Musk’s lack of ESG focus is ironic

Hyperloop and especially Tesla have a close relationship with sustainability, as governments’ focus on eliminating the use of fossil fuels and improving sustainability has created huge opportunities for electric car sales. and the rationale for large-scale movers like Hyperloop.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that, even if it weren’t real, Musk would be a big supporter of ESG efforts because they support approving Hyperloop-like projects and selling electric cars. Additionally, particularly among those interested in electric cars, buyers tend to strongly believe in the “S” of sustainability and tend to have a high likelihood of investing in solar power, such as with the subsidiary Tesla’s Solar City.

In 2024, when the first truly next-generation electric cars hit the market, Tesla will face unprecedented competition. Buyers will not only have a much wider choice of electric vehicles, but they will also choose which companies they support. Given their interest in sustainability, they are more likely to choose a greener company.

Starting with BMW, a company that has established itself as the most technologically advanced in the automotive industry, several companies are already greener than Tesla. To be clear, Tesla should be leading on ESG, and instead it’s lagging far behind in this practice, suggesting sustainability-conscious Tesla buyers choose a greener brand.

This year, Musk’s Twitter move hurt Tesla stock, and Musk’s methods for dealing with employees who view his antics as negative don’t exactly set the bar for employee care and nutrition, without talk about good governance.

In contrast, companies like Dell not only promote negative feedback, but also aggregate it and use it to make better future decisions. Firing people who point out your mistakes usually ends badly because it destroys employee trust and support, even if the review is wrong, which SpaceX was not.

Wrap

What I find amazing is that Michael Dell and Elon Musk have publicly stated that climate change is real and one of, if not the most important thing to fight to protect the human race. It’s just that Dell has stepped up to meet the challenge by reducing consumption, ensuring green energy sources and creating intensive sustainability projects like Concept Luna.

By contrast, Musk seems to think it shouldn’t be a business priority, even though he would benefit more than Dell because of subsidies and incentives tied to his companies and products.

I think it comes down to how the two men approach their work. Michael Dell takes his job seriously, is very focused and makes decisions about the data surrounding everything Dell Technologies does. Musk, on the other hand, seems to make decisions based on timing and instinct, which hasn’t worked out very well for him or his businesses lately and, in my opinion, forms the basis of his stance on the ESG.

Nothing Dell Technologies does competes with Musk’s companies, and one could be the other’s client. But as a supplier, Tesla could not conform to Dell’s ESG-focused sourcing network, while Dell’s ability to massively reduce operational costs should continue to appear to Musk’s companies.

In short, Dell’s emphasis on ESG and its support for ESG makes the company more successful, while Musk’s contrasting position only reinforces the idea that he has become a liability for his businesses. If you watch “House of the Dragon”, you witness the death of a dynasty because of a lie that no one believes. Tesla has the same problem with durability. Once the real competition emerges, I doubt it will end better for this company than for the wandering-eyed young princess in “House of the Dragon.”

Microsoft Designer with DALL-E 2

One of the biggest problems for many of us who write is finding the right open source image or figuring out how to pay for an image that’s not in the public domain.

Many of us build our own web pages or try to compose images to accompany articles or PowerPoint presentations. Often the result is zero. When I worked for large companies, executives with access to graphic designers were often considered more capable than others, regardless of the quality of their work.

OpenAI’s DALL-E, now in its second generation, creates images from text that you own. You describe what you want, and DALL-E creates it. At Microsoft Ignite last week, Satya Nadella announced that DALL-E 2 would be integrated into a new addition to Office 365 called Microsoft Designer.

This tool uses a combination of text-to-image artificial intelligence technology and nested menus to help you quickly create the professional-looking image, presentation page or ad in a fraction of the time it would take to run a graphic designer.

A solution like this has been a dream of mine since I was a child. I can imagine and describe an image that I would like to create, but even though my mother and my first mother-in-law were artists, I cannot draw to save my life.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Designer is not yet available, although I signed up to be one of the first users here. I expect Designer to set the tone for AI updates on other Microsoft products.

Imagine your PC drafting a document based on your plan or Excel creating a spreadsheet template or form based on your description of what you want. I expect Office’s new “major feature” to be the platform’s ability to do most of the heavy lifting after figuring out what you want.

Admittedly, many people find it difficult to communicate what they want. So, just like learning Boolean logic for web search, developing your ability to create accurate descriptions of what you want will be an essential future skill for success.

All in all, Microsoft Designer with DALL-E 2 was my favorite announcement at Microsoft Ignite last week, and it’s my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

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