Q&A: Building a more sustainable future through the channel with Lenovo 360 Circle

Katelyn Clontz Hill, Global Communications Manager, International Markets & Virginie Le Barbu, Global Sustainability Channel Director

As consumers become increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of the products they buy and the companies they support, businesses are turning their focus to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies to accelerate positive, sustainable environmental and social impact through their organizations.

With the power and scale to reach millions of people around the world, global technology companies in particular have an opportunity to positively impact environmental change. By manufacturing sustainable products, reducing energy consumption, developing innovative solutions to solve environmental problems, and setting an example for other industries to follow, tech companies can play a vital role in mitigating the impact of climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for all

But it’s no easy task. Companies embarking on their journey to sustainability face many challenges along the way. Businesses often lack the expertise and knowledge needed to navigate best practices, environmental regulations, and stakeholder engagement strategies to develop and implement effective initiatives. Moreover, constraints like time, money, and resources are huge factors, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses operating on limited budgets and staff.

This is where Lenovo sees an opportunity to help.

Virginie Le Barbu, smiling at the camera

Lenovo’s robust network of channel partners helps to deliver smarter technology to millions of customers around the world. When it comes to devices, infrastructure, and services & solutions, Lenovo provides channel partners with the resources needed to succeed in a highly competitive market – and we’re expanding that support to sustainability resources through a partner community called Lenovo 360 Circle.

In celebration of Earth Day, we sat down with Virginie Le Barbu, Global Sustainability Channel Director, for a deeper look at how Lenovo is driving actionable and impactful global sustainability initiatives through the Lenovo 360 Circle community.


Q: What is Lenovo 360 Circle?

Virginie Le Barbu: “In 2021, Lenovo launched its first ever global channel framework called “Lenovo 360” as a means of uniting our people, programs, and tools to unlock the full breadth & depth of Lenovo’s product and solutions portfolio for our channel partners. As sustainability continues to become a major focus for customers, we knew we needed to prioritize sustainability-focused programs and resources for our channel partners, too. So, we created a partner community called “Lenovo 360 Circle” where partners can come together to align on ESG objectives and leverage new market trends driven by sustainability to turn them into new business opportunities.

We believe the best way to drive scale and achieve sustainable impacts faster is through collaboration – if we’re all working toward the same goals, we can make progress more efficiently as a team. We hope to break down barriers and encourage collaboration to tackle environmental issues as a united front across our network of partners through both an individual and collective learning approach.”

Q: Why is a community like Lenovo 360 Circle so valuable to partners?

Virginie Le Barbu: “The pressure on private and public sectors to adopt sustainability practices has intensified in recent years. This pressure is coming from all sides: investors, shareholders, regulators, governments, NGOs, employees, local communities, as well as consumers. Many organizations are navigating sustainability journeys on their own and achieving mixed results. Sustainability is still very broad and complex, and access to the necessary expertise, knowledge, and best practices remains a challenge. Companies are operating from different sets of data and market research, and it can be hard to establish consistency in how businesses set their benchmarks as a starting point.  Lenovo 360 Circle aims to provide a platform for our partners to gain expertise and guide them to resources to help standardize their approach to their sustainability journey.

We’ve also leveraged our partnerships with recognized governing bodies, like the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Science Based Targets initiative.  As a signatory of the UNGC, the Lenovo 360 Circle is directly aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and UN Sustainable Development Goal #17: Partnership for the Goals. Additionally, earlier this year, Lenovo was the first PC and smartphone manufacturer to have our Net-Zero goals validated by the Science Based Targets initiative.

Aligning with these organizations offers consistency, standardization, and accountability to what we’re trying to achieve in our sustainability efforts. By extension, we can offer that same level of credibility to our partners who align with us through the Lenovo 360 Circle.”

Q: So, what does a partner experience when they join Lenovo 360 Circle?

Virginie Le Barbu: “We designed the community with input from our channel partners and one of the key requests we received was to keep things simple.  The community is based on a self-service portal that follows a similar structure to the engagement process established by the UNGC for private and public sectors.

Partners can apply for membership to Lenovo 360 Circle with their company’s sustainability lead. The application is designed to help us understand where partners currently stand in their sustainability efforts and position partners in to one of three stages: “Connect” partners, who are just starting out and need some help getting their strategy up and running, “Learn” partners, who have a structure in place and are ready to expand their strategies, and “Lead” partners, who are considered ‘advanced’ in their strategies and may already have a track record of goals and success in their sustainability efforts.  Once we identify what stage a partner is in, we then connect partners with a set of resources that are tailored to their specific needs – anything from assessment tools to tailored curriculums, to access to subject-matter experts and community events and webinars.”

 Q: What kind of sustainability priorities is Lenovo 360 Circle focused on?

Virginie Le Barbu: “Last year we held workshops around climate change mitigation, value chain optimization, and circular economy with our founding partners. Those discussions helped us define the priorities we should be working on as a community, which are represented across five categories: data management, circular economy, energy efficiency, learning and development, and social impact. We’ve launched focus groups to work on these priorities with representatives from our founding partners and from across our Lenovo business units. The focus groups aim to set actionable and impactful action plans to unlock barriers and accelerate the transformation to more sustainable business models. Lenovo 360 Circle aims to grant access to the data that our partners need in order to promote responsible consumption and minimize carbon footprint in our industry.”

Q: What’s next for the Lenovo 360 Circle in 2023?

Virginie Le Barbu: “We have a few key milestones planned for 2023, starting with growing the Lenovo 360 Circle community. The blueprint has been launched on Lenovo Partner Hub and any partner registered there can apply to join us. Our aspiration is to attract 1,000 partners to the community by April 2024.

The global digital transformation has significantly impacted the evolution of society and economic structures. We now live in a society that has a constant need for innovation and personalization of new products and services offerings. Now, more than ever, the tech industry is defining the way forward. We have a duty to accelerate sustainable technology innovation while ensuring inclusion and social equity, and it’s that foundation of values that we’ll continue to build upon in the Lenovo 360 Circle community.”


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