We expect Great Things. Symantec's CEO Enrique Salem is known to end his email messages with these inspiring four words. In a recent interview, Salem noted that he wants to "stretch people to potentially accomplish things they didn't't think were possible." At a time when it is popular to trash the federal government, Symantec stands out as one of the companies seeking to "expect great things" from our elected officials despite their partisan distractions.
As an early member of BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) Symantec stepped up to the plate in 2009 to join a group of leading companies including Nike, Levi Strauss, eBay and Starbucks to actively call upon Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration to address climate change. And despite the recent long and rocky road to tangible progress, Symantec remains a leading company that is still in the fight. Just weeks ago the company joined BICEP (now with twenty member companies) on Capitol Hill to press for constructive, bipartisan support in areas where traction is possible. Perhaps it’s Salem's background as a linebacker at Dartmouth. He understands that in order to play a fair game, the rules must be in place and agreed upon by all. True competition requires boundaries, standards and the expectation that we can accomplish great things when we push beyond our own self-imposed limits.
Symantec also sees our climate and energy crisis in the context of larger sustainability challenges. At a White House meeting in 2009 with several other BICEP CEOs Salem noted that Symantec had 19,000 employees and that "climate change was one of the most important issues on their minds." In 2011 and beyond Symantec and its fellow BICEP members are still actively engaged with policy makers … proving that participatory Democracy works only when people participate.
Symantec and BICEP are not going away. Most Americans know that the development of a clean energy economy is the greatest economic opportunity of the century. Now all we need to do is convince our federal policy makers of the same.
Anne Kelly is Co-Director of the Policy Program at Ceres.