With around 800 different UK sites, 186,000 kilometres of network, thousands of employees and millions of customers, we’re a large business and, as you’d expect from a business of our size, we have loads of different issues and impacts to consider.
To help us to identify and prioritise our biggest sustainability issues, we’ve been speaking to staff, customers, members of the public and top sustainability thinkers through our ‘We’re all ears’ and ‘Our digital future’ programmes, as well as through ongoing internal assessments.
Taking a holistic perspective
We think about the entirety of our business – including our products, people and operations – and consider all our potential impacts before prioritising them according to the expectations of our main stakeholders – our staff, customers and sustainability experts. We’ve recently carried out a benchmarking process to gauge how we’re doing on some key impact areas, and we’re working closely with our internal teams to monitor and improve how these issues are managed. As well as helping us make progress where necessary, this process has helped to highlight areas of leadership, such as how we manage the environmental impact of our fleet.
Tackling sector specific impacts
On top of this, there are also some important challenges that are specific to our sector. Within the telecommunications and media industry, issues go much further than responsibly managing resources such as paper or energy, or even the impact a business has on their immediate community. Today, people talk about the idea of “content influence“– because creators and distributors of information and entertainment can also influence what and how people think. As a result, there’s a big focus on how responsible companies should measure this kind of impact, something that as an active member of the CSR Media Forum, we are contributing to.
Focusing on digital issues
Here at Virgin Media our focus is on a slightly different set of issues. We don’t make TV shows ourselves – we’re here to help you get the content you want, wherever you are – but we do recognise we can have a big impact on the development of a ‘digital society’. It’s true that in an increasingly digital world, there are challenges as well as opportunities. People can struggle to keep up with new ways of doing things, and knowing how best to keep yourself and your family safe and fully benefitting from everything online isn’t always easy.
It’s this focus - on the impact of digital technology on people’s everyday lives, their communities and businesses – that’s at the heart of how we think about sustainability. This is something our stakeholders expect us to be thinking about and acting on, even if some of them – staff and customers included – don’t always call it ‘sustainability’.
Digital that makes good things happen
We know from the conversations we’ve already had that Britain overwhelmingly believes digital technology can have an exciting, positive impact on all of our lives. And the more conversations we have with our staff, customers and opinion leaders, the better we can continue to develop our approach to sustainability. It’s a work in progress as we’re learning all the time, but it focuses on one big idea – using our knowhow, talented staff and that brand magic to provide digital that makes good things happen – for individuals, businesses and communities right across the country.
To put this idea into practice, we have focused on three main things:
- Taking responsibility - working hard to manage our biggest sustainability issues across our products, our people and our operations
- Listening and learning - having an open and honest conversation about how things are, especially when it comes to the impacts of the digital world
- Inspiring good ideas - developing innovative digital projects that are good for everyone