Publishing our 2017 sustainability performance: Half-time team talk

09 July 2018

With the nation gripped with World Cup fever, it’s the perfect time for us to talk tactics, strategy and goals.

While the tournament reaches its crescendo in Russia, here at Virgin Media we’re focussing our attention closer to home; taking stock of our 2017 sustainability performance and how we’re addressing the impact of our business on people, communities and society.

In 2015, we set some ambitious sustainability goals with our ‘five in five’ plan. These long term goals will transform the way we do business for the better by 2020. We’re at the halfway point of our deadline and we’re picking up the pace as we move sustainability away from being a ‘nice to do’ towards something that’s central to how we work and how we grow our business.

In order to bring this to life for our customers, our external stakeholders and our people, we’ve published our 2017 Sustainability Report. We’re calling it our ‘Half-Time Team Talk’ - a straight-up review of how we’re delivering against our sustainability goals, championing our successes and marking out the areas we need to work on.

Half-time analysis 

As you’ll read in our report, we’ve achieved some great results in the past two years:

  • Better products: Launching our product scorecard has influenced the social and environmental impact of our products; for example our Virgin TV V6 set-top box uses less than half the power and is made of 21% less plastics, metals and electronics than our previous box
  • Lower impact: Despite the significant expansion of our network, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by 8% (Scope 1&2, against our 2014 baseline) and achieved a 69% reduction in carbon emissions per terabyte of data used
  • More inclusive: We saw a 66% increase in female enrolments to our apprenticeship scheme
  • Boosting business: More than 77,000 small businesses have joined our Voom Pioneers community (a peer support network) taken part in a Voom competition, workshop or tour stop or benefitted from Voom Fibre – all providing them with opportunities to grow
  • Transforming lives: Our pioneering Scope partnership aims to provide one million disabled people with the advice, skills and confidence they need to get a job or stay in work by the end of 2020. Along with funding Scope’s new digital employment service, ‘Support to Work’, to provide employment support to disabled job-seekers, we’ve taken a number of steps to become a better employer of disabled people. This includes implementing a disability action plan to remove the barriers disabled employees may face in our workplaces.

There are some areas where we’d like to be performing better. Despite our gender pay gap being below the national average, we want to increase the percentage of women in the workplace across all levels.  Although that’s yet to happen, we’re seeing positive signs in this area with an increase in female representation across all of our management and leadership positions. We’ve also set out our plan to have 50/50 gender parity by 2025.

All in all, to continue the football analogy, we’re 1-0 up at half time – making progress, but with plenty to do as we head to the full time whistle.

Every year we look to evolve the approach we take to communicating our performance update to ensure it is relevant to our stakeholders. Now we’re evolving our reporting process to engage our entire team on our goals. We’ve created the Sustainability Squad Selector - a fun tool to help our people understand what role they play in the team and what that position – a fan, striker, captain or coach - can do to help us achieve a winning result.

I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at this mid-way point. The second half’s about to start and we’re ready for kick off. 

Katie Buchanan is Head of Sustainability at Virgin Media.