Stakeholder engagement

Communicating with and listening to our stakeholders – the people who can affect our business or who are affected by it – is important to help us understand their views and explain our perspectives.

The feedback we receive from external stakeholders informs our judgment about sustainability priorities for our business and feeds into our sustainability strategy as appropriate. Our aim is for Vodafone and its stakeholders to find the process mutually beneficial and in cases where we do not agree or cannot respond to the feedback we have received, we aim to explain our position honestly and openly.

Our stakeholders include investors, employees and suppliers – who are directly affected by our business performance – as well as consumers and enterprise customers (small and large businesses and organisations) who relate to us as a service provider. Many more people in communities see our network infrastructure and some object to where we put our mast sites. Non-governmental organisations and sustainability opinion formers are often concerned about specific issues. Governments and regulators can affect our business through new legislation and regulations (see Public policy).

We tailor our engagement processes to suit each different stakeholder group. Our local markets play an important role in forming relationships with local stakeholders.

Stakeholder group How we engage Further information
Investors We meet with investors through events, conference calls and one-to-one meetings to understand their concerns about sustainability risks and help us identify potential future issues. We use our engagement with investors to understand what information they want and to explain our strategy for managing sustainability across the business. We also provide information for investors on our Group website (see Investor Relations).
Opinion formers and experts We consult with experts on a wide range of issues to gain feedback about our practices and inform our strategy on sustainability. Our Sustainability Expert Advisory Panel was established in 2007 to provide feedback on our strategy, performance and issue management. The forum comprises experts from sustainability organisations, NGOs and industry, with a mutual interest in debating relevant issues and finding solutions for Vodafone to put into practice.

Our Sustainability Expert Advisory Panel met once in 2013/14 to discuss the role of sustainability at Vodafone now and in the future.

We interviewed opinion formers as part of our Connected Women research and Vodafone Group CEO, Vittorio Colao, hosted a discussion panel with four opinion formers at the launch event.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) We consult with NGOs when their campaign or focus is relevant to our business. We do this by organising face-to-face meetings and meeting representatives at sustainability events. Our engagement with individual NGOs is mainly focused on specific issues.

NGOs are included in many of our dialogues with experts and are included on Vodafone’s Sustainability Expert Advisory Panel.

We also consult with NGOs on particular issues. In 2013/14, these included engaging with the multi-stakeholder Ranking Digital Rights project, which is developing a methodology to rank ICT companies on respect for free expression and privacy.

We continued to engage with NGOs and the Global Network Initiative through our participation in the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Privacy and Freedom of Expression.

Enterprise customers We work with our enterprise customers to help them meet their sustainability needs. Partnering with them will also play an important role in helping us to deliver transformational products and services. It will support us in creating commercially viable services with sustainability benefits that can be scaled up and rolled out across different markets. We work with enterprise customers to develop products and services that promote sustainability, for example through Low carbon solutions and Smart working.
Consumers We communicate with consumers in many ways as part of our normal business operations, for example, through our retail outlets, contact centres and customer research. Understanding the attitudes of consumers towards sustainability issues is critical to getting our strategy right.

We run regular perception surveys across our markets to evaluate our reputation in local markets and globally.

In 2013/14, we surveyed consumers (and opinion formers) to understand their expectations in relation to privacy (see Privacy and security).

We also engage consumers on the environmental and social impacts of mobile phones through our Eco-rating scheme (see Customers and the environment).

Industry

We collaborate with industry peers through our participation in industry forums on sustainability issues. These include:

  • Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
  • International Telecommunications Union
  • Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC)
  • Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy
  • GSM Association (GSMA) and GSM Europe

Through GeSI, we participate in industry initiatives such as the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative which aim to tackle conflict minerals by increasing transparency and traceability in the supply chain.

Through JAC, we collaborate with other telecoms companies to assess and improve the social and environmental performance of common suppliers. In 2013/14, we participated in JAC’s third annual conference on sustainability and corporate social responsibility in China (see Responsible supply chain).

We continued to engage with others in our industry through the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy.

We also chair the GSMA Europe Health and Environment working group, which met four times in 2013/14, and participated in the GSMA Europe EMF Forum 2014 in Brussels to share best practice and engage in dialogue with industry peers on mobiles, masts and health.

Communities We consult local people to help us understand and address any concerns they may have with the deployment of our network in their communities.

Our local operating companies continued to consult with communities in the rollout of our networks in 2013/14 (see Network deployment for more on our approach).

We also explored ways to expand our ‘community power’ model, which uses our network infrastructure to bring additional benefits to communities by increasing access to energy in remote areas of emerging markets (see Low carbon solutions).

Governments and regulators Vodafone engages with regulators and governments on a wide range of issues relevant to our business and contributes to consultations on sustainability issues.

See Public policy for more on our engagement with governments and regulators.

Employees We gain feedback from employees on how we're doing through our annual Global People Survey, as well as engaging informally through internal communications channels and regular meetings with managers. In 2013/14, our efforts to engage employees across the Group helped us to maintain strong scores in our annual Global People Survey (see Our people).
Suppliers We work closely with suppliers to ensure they maintain high standards by conducting assessments and holding workshops to help them improve. We also collaborate with key network suppliers to help us cut climate impacts by improving the energy efficiency of our operations. We participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project Supplier programme to encourage suppliers to disclose and set targets to reduce energy use and carbon emissions (see Responsible supply chain).