Vodafone makes headway on worldwide CSR policyOctober 2001
Vodafone is to launch a set of group-wide business principles next month and will develop a detailed corporate social responsibility policy in 2002.
The telecoms company is close to finalizing the principles after consulting its business units around the world on their content. The CSR policy is already in draft form but will take longer to complete.
Vodafone has large stakes in 15 network operators around the world and serves 173 million users.
‘The big challenge is to get CSR integrated across all the companies in the group,’ said Nick Hughes, Vodafone’s senior corporate responsibility manager. ‘Some of them have been working on social issues for a long time and have established practices, but we want to get a common policy at group level so we are all working on the same basis. That policy is being put around the companies now, and we hope to have it ready in 2002.’
Hughes said Vodafone was working on key performance indicators – also due out in 2002 – and plans to set up a foundation to manage its social, community and environmental initiatives.
‘We plan to adopt a set of investment principles to guide the foundation, so the money that will come out of it will go towards making real progress on one or two key areas connected to technology, such as youth causes and overcoming the digital divide,’ he said.
The UK-based company’s four-strong corporate social responsibility team recently published its first CSR report.
The 26-page document says Vodafone will put in place a group environmental and social management system by 2003 and will consult employees on implementing its CSR policy. Chief executive Chris Gent will chair the executive committee responsible for overseeing the work.
Existing Vodafone CSR initiatives highlighted by the report include:
a US ‘call with care’ campaign aimed at encouraging responsible driving by mobile phone users
financial support to protect endangered species in Africa
creation of the ‘Buddy-Projekt’ to raise awareness of the plight of homeless children in Germany
a £3million ($4.4m) donation to YouthNet, a UK charity advising young people on career choices.
Until recently, Vodafone had been one of a number of large companies facing public pressure from UK environment minister Michael Meacher to produce an environment report. The group says it now plans to produce a CSR report annually, and will make greater use of the internet to post information about its social and environmental performance.
Vodafone has recently faced controversy over directors’ pay levels.
The company headed a UK league table of share selections favoured by ethical fund managers, 81 per cent of whom held Vodafone shares. The table was compiled by the Ethical Investment Research Service in spring 2001.
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