18 August 2015
I joined the team in October last year, and was very quickly immersed into working with a myriad of teams across the business on a range of key sustainability issues. It was great to see such momentum and commitment to sustainability. I had joined at a time where the team was completing a strategic review and immediately i got stuck into this process, helping to complete a materiality assessment as a precursor to setting our new sustainability goals. I was impressed by a desire to push the boundaries, be innovative and disruptive – something that I have since discovered is not just unique to the sustainability team, but is very much driven by the Executive Committee too.
Developing the 5 in 5 sustainability goals has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about Virgin Media, our strategic priorities and perhaps most importantly, build relationships with a number of teams.
To complete our review - we had great insight from stakeholder engagement exercises with staff, customers and experts and when combined with benchmarking against our peers and those that we look up to from other sectors, we were quickly able to narrow our scope to the five areas that became our goals. The most important aspect of developing the goals was building a groundswell of support from each of the respective teams that would help us to achieve the goals. We held numerous discussions to co-create and shape the goals and this was invaluable in ensuring that our Executive Committee were fully behind us. .
As I look back on the last couple of months, the thing that surprised me the most was the appetite for creating really challenging goals. In some cases we were pushed to raise the bar even higher and be even more ambitious which meant going back to the drawing board. A good problem to have - There’s not many more things that give you a buzz as a sustainability professional than your ideas being taken on board then being thrown back at you with a request to do even more!
Here’s my take on each of the goals:
People – Nurture an engaged workforce which represents the diversity of our customers and communities
We’ve made good progress with our approach to diversity and inclusion over the past few years, but we know that we can do a lot more to be a truly inclusive and diverse employer. Our people goal embraces more than gender and it’s an area that, together with our People team, are making centre-stage. Our challenge will be ensuring our leaders and managers are capable and confident to support a more diverse workforce.
Products – Improve the sustainability performance of every new customer product
I’m personally really excited about this goal and it’s one that I’m going to be really getting my teeth into. After joining Virgin Media it was clear to me that there was an opportunity to be much more proactive, planned and measured in our approach to product sustainability. Working with my colleagues across Liberty Global I will be leading the development of a product scorecard that will enable us to define and consistently measure the overall sustainability performance of our set top boxes and broadband hubs. We will embed this scorecard throughout the design and development process for products to ensure that sustainability is front of mind whenever key decisions are made. Watch this space!
Operations – Grow our business without increasing our carbon footprint
On one hand this goal is straight forward in that we’ll know for definite whether we have achieved it or not! It is however hugely challenging for a business going through such a significant period of growth. Having spent a large part of my career so far talking about carbon footprints, I know that most businesses in our position would set a relative carbon reduction target. In true Virgin Media fashion we wanted to give ourselves a really ambitious goal, after all taking it easy isn’t us! Achieving our goal will involve many teams across our business and we will need everyone to get behind it but I’m confident we’ll rise to the challenge and find some really innovative ways to keep our footprint at bay.
Boosting Business - Create the opportunities for 100,000 small businesses to grow in the UK’s economy through digital
This goal is closely linked to our growth as a company. As we grow our network we’ll be connecting more small businesses to our ultrafast broadband, but simply getting businesses online is only the start. We have some really great assets, including Virgin Media Pioneers, and over the next couple of months we will be putting together a great proposition to help businesses make the most of digital, take their businesses in new and exciting directions, and connect with like-minded people and businesses and find unique opportunities to gain exposure and support.
Transform the lives of disadvantaged people in the UK through digital technology
Virgin Media has a great tradition of supporting charities and enabling employeesto get involved in crazy and fun activities. Our annual charity days have been a great source of funny pictures! Now, we’re supercharging our social impact and will be working with our friends at Scope to transform lives through digital technology. Our focus here is on transforming lives – rather than reach or engagement through our partnership. This has gone down really well with employees and I’m standing by to dig out my next fancy dress costume!
We'll be providing regular updates on our progress towards these goals throughout the year, so I'd encourage you to keep checking to see how we're doing. I'd love to hear what you think about our goals so share any thoughts below or with us at firstname.lastname@example.org