Introducing our Belonging strategy

14 October 2020

At Virgin Media, we’re striving to create a culture where everyone can be themselves at work, achieve their potential, and ensure our company represents the communities we serve.

We call this Belonging.

Over the past few months we’ve been reflecting on whether we’re doing enough to achieve this goal, where our people -- no matter their background -- feel they have a voice, are being listened to and are valued, and whether we’re making progress fast enough. 

There are some questions that I regularly ask myself and my teams: If the people we employ don’t truly represent our customers, how do we know that we’re offering them the right products and services? If we don’t have a culture where our people feel represented, heard and free to be themselves, how can we expect them to feel valued and, in-turn, motivated to help our business grow and succeed in a competitive market?

We know that diverse teams combined with an inclusive culture are more successful. They provide healthy challenge; they approach problems with a fresh perspective and find new solutions. This drives long-term positive benefits in how a company is run, performs and how its customers are treated, too.

Being straight-up, whilst we are proud of the programmes and initiatives we have put into place, such as our work to support disabled people via our partnership with the charity, Scope, we know we still have a lot of work to do. 

And, from listening regularly to our people, we understand that they expect more from us, too. 

That’s why we’ve spent time co-creating our Belonging strategy which lays out our priorities and gives us a road map to achieve our ambition: to create a culture where our people feel they belong, are listened to, and are respected.

Let me tell you about some of the work that’s underway.

Educate and listen

I won’t pretend to be a diversity or inclusion expert.  Instead, I’m going to educate myself about other people’s lived experiences.

Along with my colleagues on the Virgin Media Executive Committee, I want to listen, learn and understand what it means to be more diverse, and to address the underlying barriers behind everyday discrimination.   

We’ll do this through listening and partnering with experts, as well as by talking to our people and customers. 

Giving underrepresented groups a voice

We’ve launched our ‘Belonging Collective’ which is five employee networks representing underrepresented ethnicities, gender, disability, neurodiversity, and LGBTQ+ communities. These networks will play a vital role in providing a voice and a safe space for our people to get involved in the Belonging movement.

These groups are open to everyone so any of our people can educate themselves and become an ally, as well as play an active role in the running of the network.   

In addition, each member of our Executive Committee has become an ally to one of these networks, and a lead from each network will be invited to our Voice employee representation group to ensure we have different perspectives around the table.

Investing in inclusion

We’re investing in our own people, external expertise where it’s needed, and are embedding inclusion principles into our people and customer experience; from internal training to the products we sell.  

Without the right team, resources and investment, we won’t be able to drive real change.

What gets measured gets done

We’ll be measuring our performance and progress to make sure we’re staying on track and delivering on our word.  

The first part of this is creating an environment where our people feel safe to tell us about who they are.

When diversity disclosure happens, it’ll help us learn more about the make-up of our organisation and whether there are particular groups that are under-represented within Virgin Media. This in-turn will help us remove any barriers and identify bias or discrimination – both conscious and unconscious – that might be behind this.  

For example, we already know we need to increase the number of women in engineering roles, as well as the number of underrepresented ethnicities into senior positions.   

Diversity disclosure is a key indicator to show how we’re performing and whether we are making a difference.  

In addition, we’ll looking at how we can measure Belonging as part of our Employee Engagement survey, and as part of our Net Promoter Score – which tracks customer satisfaction, so we can see if we’re truly making a difference. 

Actions, not words

Our Belonging strategy is a concrete plan that will help us continue to transform our business, our culture and the relationship we have with our people and customers.

We’re committed to getting this right, to listening, to learning and taking positive action that is inclusive and makes a real difference. Creating a truly inclusive workplace will mean our people are free and open to be themselves and can thrive, which in-turn will benefit our business, customers and society, too.

Jeff Dodds is Virgin Media's Chief Operating Officer