Focusing on the issues that matter most
A materiality assessment is the process we follow to identify and then prioritise the sustainability issues that matter most, across the whole of our business – including our products, our people and our operations. This involves engaging with staff, customers, members of the public and top sustainability thinkers, to understand their expectations about which issues are most important and what we should be doing to tackle them.
In 2014, we built on the learning from our past projects - ‘We’re all ears’ and ‘Our Digital Future’ - through more conversations with sustainability and social impact experts, as well as running a 500-strong co-creation programme.
You can see our top ten issues, which we identified in 2014, here.
What we mean, when we talk about ‘sustainability’
Our biggest focus continues to be the impact of digital technology on people, businesses and communities in the UK – that’s at the heart of how we think about sustainability. It’s 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'.
Helping people get the best from the web
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. This forms the basis of our vision for sustainability: digital that makes good things happen. Our vision is focused on one big idea – combining our know-how, talented staff and brand magic to use digital technology to create positive change – for individuals, businesses and communities right across the country.
Through all the conversations we’ve had as part of ‘Our Digital Future’, we also heard that people desire better technology and better guidance from internet service providers, like us, to help keep kids safe online. To make sure we’re helping families get the best from the web, while keeping children safe online, we’ve introduced a range of initiatives:
- Web Safe: a parental controls tool that blocks access to certain types of sites that are unsuitable for children. It helps to protect any device that’s connected to a Virgin Media home network and it’s included in all Virgin Broadband packages at no extra cost.
- Switched On Families: practical, honest, useful (and sometimes even fun) support for parents, through an interactive guide and online hub with loads of advice for families, by families.
- Internet Matters: working with Sky, BT and TalkTalk to help parents and carers make informed and timely decisions on what kids get up to online, at every stage of their development.
Our focus is slightly different to that of the many other companies in the sector, who also talk about the issues surrounding ‘content influence’ - the idea that creators and distributors of information and entertainment can also influence what and how people think. Because we don’t make TV shows ourselves (we just provide access to them), influence through content production is not such a relevant topic for Virgin Media. But we’re still contributing to the debate through our role as an active member of the Media CSR Forum and by providing people with the tools they need to make the right choices about content.
New sustainability issues for 2015
As part of our most recent materiality assessment, a slightly different set of issues have emerged. They’re what we’re calling ‘good governance’ issues and they cover a broad set of themes that many large businesses are starting to manage and report on externally. They include issues such as protecting customer’s personal data, employee representation and responsible advertising. We aim to improve our reporting on these issues in future updates.