Our learnings at half-time

09 July 2018

At Virgin Media we share our sustainability progress throughout the year via our sustainability blog, social media channels, career website and of course with our people. The publication of a sustainability report, however, provides a moment in time to anchor and review our performance, to celebrate our achievements and to look at the areas where we need to improve. 

This year our approach is not just about reporting on our performance but also about sharing our straight-up our learnings since we set our ambitious ‘5 in 5’ plan. As we are at the half-way point to our ‘5 in 5’ 2020 sustainability goals. it feels only natural to take stock, review tactics and share our analysis with our customers and people.

We’ve pulled together our key learnings to help us reset, refocus and reform our approach. Throughout this week we’re sharing our learnings with our people but here are our broader reflections. While it’s not rocket science we hope it will be a handy reminder to other Sustainability teams:  

1. Do fewer things really well. An oft-repeated phrase in a business, but it really makes sense when it comes to sustainability. By focussing on fewer issues where we can have a bigger impact, we’ve been able to make more progress. Before we set our ‘5 in 5’ goals in 2015, we had 27 targets to report on annually. It was difficult to drive change in all these areas, for our people to get behind and to tell a cohesive story about the impact we were having as a business.
2. Set big, long-term goals. Although it felt scary at the time, we embraced a longer term focus because thinking year-to-year was providing too trivial. When we set our ‘Lower impact’ goal we could easily have gone with an easy-to-achieve target, instead we challenged ourselves to set a goal to reduce our impact despite plans to significantly grow our network It’s proving successful with an 8% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions since our 2014 baseline. A longer-term focus also enables you to constantly engage your people and refer back to something they are familiar with.
3. Find new ways to story tell. We are constantly finding new ways to bring our story to life. One of our proudest moments in 2017 was seeing the spotlight shone on disability discrimination in football after we donated our shirt sponsorship of Southampton Football Club to Scope for their match against Manchester United. As well as generating headlines and great feedback from football fans, it was a great opportunity to engage our people about what we’re trying to achieve with our partnership with Scope.. It’s about finding new ways to talk about ‘sustainability’ issues and activity without appearing in a dull corporate report.
4. Don’t be afraid to look under the bonnet. With our disability action plan we asked ourselves some difficult questions about how we were really supporting disabled employees and customers. Those difficult questions mean we have created a plan that gets to the root of the barriers while also helping us to play a role in bringing other businesses with us through our #WorkWithMe campaign 5. Governance is golden. Delivering long term goals and sustaining momentum is no easy task. Having support and regular check-ins with senior leaders have been crucial to our progress. There are times when diaries get busy, and there is always more we can do, but the key to our success has been regular, formalised meetings to keep us on track.

I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved so far but there’s plenty more work for us to do.

If you’d like to chat about our learnings in more detail we would be very happy to discuss. Please drop us a line at sustainability@virginmedia.co.uk

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