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Our meaningful connections plan

Our 2020 performance

What a day year

2020 saw us close out our ‘5 in 5’ strategy – five ambitious sustainability goals we set ourselves back in 2015. We wanted to focus on a few things, rather than many, to go about our business in a way that was good for people, communities and the planet.

Despite knowing that 2020 would be a transitional year for us, we were ready to kick-start a new sustainability plan to help us continue to grow and guide key decisions. So we started to link up with our people, customers and industry experts to look at what had gone well so far, how we could do better and where to focus our sustainability efforts over the next five years.

In March 2020, life went on pause for everyone, not just our Sustainability team. Inevitably, our visions shifted to shorter-term areas of focus to address the impact of Covid-19.

During these unfamiliar, often uncertain times, we knew just how important it was to keep our colleagues, customers and communities connected to the things they love most. This meant balancing short-term demands while we came up with longer-term plans for the next five years.

‘Dialling into 2020’ – how we’ve engaged our people, customers and sustainability peers on our 2020 performance

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we all need meaningful connections in our lives – both physically and digitally.

To bring this year’s report to life, we’re embracing the sentiment and spirit of 2020 and sharing our social and environmental performance update through something we can all relate to – video calls, podcasts, online quizzes and social media.

So ‘dial into our 2020 performance PDF and Prezi for more information or we’ve summarised our key performance activity below.

How we did in 2020

People

Last year, we took a fresh approach to diversity and inclusion and developed a company-wide Belonging strategy that puts diversity and inclusion at the heart of our decision-making. It lines up with three commitments we made:

  1. To build a diverse workforce where no one’s left behind
  2. To create a safe environment where voices are heard and valued
  3. To spread belonging across our people, products, customers and society

Diversity at Virgin Media in 2020

GenderDisabilitySexualityEthnicity
Our 2020 representation 27.4% female
72.6% male
4% disabled6% LGBTQ+12% from
underrepresented
ethnic groups
UK economic benchmark47% female
53% male
12% 5-7%13%

Being apart brought us closer together

Every business faced unprecedented people challenges throughout 2020. Yet though our people were apart, they still managed to bring the nation closer together – keeping public services running and making sure our customers stayed connected to both their work and the entertainment they love, at home.

We focused on all four areas of our Thrive programme (social connections, as well as mental, financial and physical wellbeing), running campaigns throughout the year and encouraging our people to take time for themselves and their loved ones. And, recognising that many people have struggled with mental wellbeing this year, we partnered with wellbeing experts Unmind – giving all of our people free access to the Unmind workplace mental health platform.

Making things easier for our vulnerable customers

While we announced measures in 2019 for our vulnerable customers, we knew 2020 posed unusually difficult times for people. So, to make sure our customers could stay connected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – regardless of their personal or financial situation – we gave them extra mobile data and minutes, prioritised their issues and offered help and advice if they had concerns about payments or their bill.

Then there was our Essential Broadband plan, which launched in August 2020. This gave anyone receiving Universal Credit access to affordable and reliable broadband, so they could get and stay online

Say hello to our Belonging Collective

In September 2020, we unveiled our Belonging Collective made up of five new employee network groups as the voice of the people, promoting Belonging in all its forms. These include:

  1. Empower (underrepresented ethnicities)
  2. Ultraviolet (Disability)
  3. Our Indigo Mind (Neurodiversity)
  4. Prouder (LGBTQ+)
  5. Gender Equality

Each network is sponsored by at least one member of our executive committee as an ally, supported by a senior leader and managed by a group of volunteers. They are also supported and coached by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team, and together they report into a Belonging Board, which is chaired monthly by our Chief Operating Officer (COO), Jeff Dodds, and is driving the embedding of the Belonging strategy.

Communities

Disability employment: closing out our partnership with pan-disability charity Scope

With our brand’s weight and digital connectivity, along with our strategic charity partner Scope’s expertise, we had the skills and knowledge needed to overhaul the employment support and experience for disabled jobseekers – providing stable jobs for years to come. We achieved this by focusing on two key initiatives:

1. Support to Work

We created a national digital employment service for disabled jobseekers, aiming to support 1 million disabled people with the skills and confidence to get into, and stay in, work by the end of 2020.

It combined a 12-week tailored programme – delivered digitally with every person assigned an advisor to work with them on a one-to-one basis to develop their skills and confidence specific to their employment goals – and a self-service platform offering wide-ranging employment information and advice.

By the end of 2020 we supported 1,204,427 disabled people with the skills and confidence to get into and stay in work through the Support to Work service.

70% of tailored service customers had improved skills and knowledge to find, choose and apply for jobs, while 78% disabled people that accessed the self-service resources say the content available is helpful.

2. Work With Me

With Scope we set up Work With Me – a community of businesses committed to thinking and acting differently about disabled people in their organisations – to break down barriers employers had put up to prevent disabled people getting into work.

By the end of 2020, Work With Me had:

  • Gained over 100 members in the community from companies including Deloitte, American Express, Innocent, Ford and many more
  • Helped 71% of members understand how they can address disability inclusion so they can take action
  • Given 85% of members more confidence in having conversations and taking positive action on disability inclusion
  • Offered something that 42% of members said they couldn’t get elsewhere
  • Encouraged 85% of members to engage with resources and events
3. Employee Fundraising

Virgin Media people have raised £902,309 for Scope over the last 5 years. And, to round off our partnership, Virgin Media topped up the total amount raised to £1 million. Over the last two years, we put every penny of fundraising into the Support to Work service, to significantly improve the employment journey for disabled people. In just 2 years, our people have raised more than £200,000, which has specifically funded two new initiatives a Support to Work jobs board and a pilot of a local on the ground Support to Work service in Leeds.

The planet

2020 was an unusual year for our environmental performance, not least because the pandemic brought business travel – on the ground and overseas – to a halt. But, with more people than ever now working from their homes, demand for reliable and superfast digital connectivity soared.

1. Shrinking our carbon footprint

Our network remains under pressure to help millions of people stay connected to the outside world – work, education, entertainment. Yet, despite heightened demands and more data being used across our network, we were able to reduce our operational carbon footprint by 7% compared to our 2019 baseline, and 46% against our previous 2014 baseline. And, when comparing our carbon footprint to the unprecedented amount of data used by our customers in 2020, we reduced our operational carbon footprint (per terabyte of data) by 50% since 2019 and 93% since 2014.

In 2020, we achieved:

  • 7% lower operational carbon footprint (scope 1 and 2) against our 2019 baseline
  • 46% lower operational carbon footprint than our 2014 baseline
  • 14% less scope 3 emissions against 2019 baseline
  • As part of the RE100 initiative, we’re continuing to source 100% renewable electricity
2. Waste: our operations and our logistics

As part of our new goal-setting process, we decided to bring together waste from our sites and logistics’ supply chain – two areas where we’re the producers – under a combined measurement for operational waste. This will help us focus on achieving our zero-waste-operations goal.

In addition to our zero waste operations goal, we also continue to focus on increasing the circularity of our products and packaging.

In 2020, we achieved:

  • 80% of our operational waste was recycled
  • 0.9% of our operational waste went to landfill – meeting the criteria for zero waste to landfill
  • 1.3 million products were refurbished and reused– bringing our total to over 8 million since 2014
  • 11,000 tonnes of paper was saved – we’ve cut our paper use by 88% since 2014
  • You can read our full 2020 sustainability report here.
  • And access our detailed performance tables in the Resources section here.
  • Check back here in summer 2022 for an update on our performance in 2021 and you can find information on our new Meaningful Connections Plan here.