Corporate responsibility

Our approach to Corporate Responsibility (‘CR’) is to engage with stakeholders to understand their expectations on the issues most important to them and respond with appropriate targets, programmes and reports on progress. We understand that responsible behaviour is key to building and maintaining trust in our brand.

More detail on CR performance for the year ended 31 March 2010 will be available in our 2010 sustainability report and at

During the year our 2009 CR report won the Corporate Register Reporting Award for the best report. We are included in the FTSE4Good and Dow Jones Sustainability Index and rated first in the Tomorrow’s Value Rating of the sustainability performance of the telecommunications sector.


There is increasing interest in how businesses are addressing the challenges of sustainability. Our licences to operate are granted by governments that seek evidence of responsible business practices. Our research shows that consumers are becoming more concerned about sustainability. Ethical investors and non-government organisations remain focused on issues, such as supply chain standards and privacy, and our corporate customers seek information on our performance through questionnaires and meetings.

CR is relevant across all aspects of our activities and therefore we seek integration into all key business processes. The CR strategy focuses on CR issues material to the Group and has the following main strands:

  • to capture the potential of mobile communications to bring socio-economic value in both emerging economies and developed markets through broadening access to communications to all sections of society;
  • to deliver against stakeholder expectations on the key areas of climate change, a safe and responsible internet experience and sustainable products and services; and
  • to ensure our business practices are implemented responsibly, underpinned by our business principles.
Key CR strategic objectives
Core initiative:
Access to communications
Safe and responsible
internet experience
Climate change Sustainable
products and
Supported by responsible business practices
Underpinned by values, principles and behaviours

CR governance

Our main focus is on implementing our CR programme across local operating companies. For the purposes of this section of the annual report “operating companies” refers to the Group’s operating subsidiaries and the Group’s joint venture in Italy. Vodacom, Ghana and Qatar are currently not consolidated in our CR reporting system but we intend to include them in reporting for the 2011 financial year. We recognise that we also have influence with joint ventures, associates, investments, partner markets and outsourcing partners.

Our approach to CR is underpinned by our business principles which cover, amongst other things, the environment, employees, individual conduct, community and society. During the year the business principles were reviewed and updated. We have also created a code of conduct which provides a practical guide for employees in relation to how to comply with the business principles. The new business principles and the Vodafone code of conduct will be communicated during the 2011 financial year.

The Executive Committee receives a formal update on CR twice a year and the Board continues to receive an annual presentation on CR. A CR management structure is established in each local operating company and CR performance is closely monitored and reported at most local operating company boards on a regular basis. CR is also integrated into our risk management processes, such as the formal annual confirmation provided by each local operating company detailing the operation of their controls system.

These processes are supported by stakeholder engagement which helps us to ensure we are aware of the issues relevant to the business and to provide a clear understanding of expectations of performance. Stakeholder consultations take place with customers, investors, employees, suppliers, the communities where we operate and where networks are based, governments, regulators and non-governmental organisations. Established in 2007 the Vodafone Corporate Responsibility Expert Advisory Panel comprises opinion leaders who are experts on CR issues important to Vodafone. The Panel met once during the 2010 financial year and discussed the progress made on identifying low carbon product and service opportunities, and customer privacy issues.

Our CR programme and selected performance information, as reported in the Group’s 2010 sustainability report, will be independently assured by KPMG using the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (‘ISAE 3000’). The assurance process assesses our adherence to the AA1000 AccountAbility Principles Standard (‘AA1000APS’) addressing inclusiveness, materiality and responsiveness, and the reliability of selected performance information. KPMG’s assurance statement outlining the specific assurance scope, procedures and assurance conclusions will be published in our 2010 sustainability report.

For the 2010 financial year our CR reporting comprises online information on CR programmes and a performance report. Nine operating companies have produced their own CR reports during the 2010 financial year.

Information regarding our employees including diversity, inclusion, health, safety and wellbeing can be found in “People”.

Performance in the 2010 financial year

Access to communications

Our access to communications strategy continues to focus on responding to the needs of customers in emerging markets and increasing the accessibility of our products and services across demographics and individual capabilities.

Emerging markets

We have aligned the opportunity from mobile products and services in emerging markets to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals - a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. Under this framework we set a target to “be recognised as a communications company making one of the most significant contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (‘MDGs’) by 2015.”

We have continued to support our local markets to develop commercial products and services with high social value through our social investment fund (‘SIF’). In the 2010 financial year we adapted the fund criteria to identify propositions that contribute to one or more of the MDGs and eight projects were conducted under the SIF the majority of which are relevant to MDG goals such as “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” and “combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases”.

In February 2010 we announced the launch of Vodafone 150, an extremely affordable handset that retails unsubsidised at below US$15 depending on the local market. These innovations reduce the cost barriers to the adoption of mobile communication making new technologies available in developing countries – a target under the MDGs. In the 2010 financial year we shipped 5.4 million Vodafone branded handsets. Approximately 55% of these cost less than US$50.

Further to the rapid take-up of affordable handsets we commissioned research to better understand their socio-economic impact in India which quantified benefits for customers such as reduced transport costs and increased employment opportunities.

Our mobile money transfer product, named “M-PESA” in Kenya and Tanzania and “M-Paisa” in Afghanistan, continued to grow during the 2010 financial year in terms of customers, transactions and the volume of money moved. Across our markets there are 13 million registered customers who moved US$3.6 billion during the 2010 financial year.


We commissioned research to better understand the market sizes for accessible products and services. The research showed that age is closely correlated to capability loss and that we need to consider propositions that cater for multiple minor disabilities rather than only targeting a single capability loss.

Our centre of excellence for accessibility, led by Vodafone Spain, continues to develop the portfolio of accessible products and services. During the year a new wireless loopset was trialled in collaboration with Nokia and Oticon and we launched a new online training course for employees to raise awareness on disabilities and the products and services that we offer our customers. Our markets in Egypt, Germany, Portugal and Italy also launched new products and services for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Safe and responsible internet experience

Our reputation depends on earning and maintaining the trust of our customers. The way we deal with certain key consumer issues directly impacts trust in the business. These issues include responsible delivery of age-sensitive content and services, mobile advertising and protecting customers’ privacy.

Responsible delivery of content and services

We continue to be heavily involved in industry work in this area. Having implemented age-restricted content controls in the markets where such content is provided our work is focused on providing a safe and responsible internet experience when using new media applications. These have particular relevance to the mobile communications sector and have formed a key part of our activities during the 2010 financial year:

  • In October 2009 we launched the first comprehensive website to help parents play an active and essential role in their children’s digital world and better understand their use of mobiles, and online social media. The Vodafone Parents’ Guide ( offers up-to-date guidance on challenging issues such as children’s excessive use of technology, managing their reputations and online identities in social media, safe access to location-based technology, cyber-bullying and the risks of meeting strangers online.
  • Together with other industry partners we have continued to develop the Teachtoday website ( providing advice for teachers and students to help create a safer online environment for children and young people.
  • Vodafone continued to be a board member of the newly formed UK Council for Child Internet Safety (‘UKCCIS’). Board members include senior figures from government, industry, charities, academia and law enforcement. The board sets direction at a strategic level and there are a number of working groups including the industry and expert research panels in which we play an active role.
Consumer privacy and freedom of expression

We know that users increasingly wish to exercise control over how their personal information is made available and recognise the need to ensure that internet commerce over mobile and new business models, such as advertising, gains the trust of both consumers and regulators. We seek to ensure that our products and services are designed to address privacy risks and concerns, particularly those associated with social networking and media, as well as location-enabled applications and services.

To make our commitment to our customers’ privacy clearer to our staff, customers and external stakeholders, we are developing a set of core principles that will become a part of our global privacy policy. These will form the basis of all of our privacy standards and provide guidance on a wide range of privacy issues across our business.

In October 2009 we launched Vodafone 360, a new internet proposition which can be accessed by mobile or PC. Among the many features of Vodafone 360 is a rich visual address book that provides users with many ways to communicate including aggregating their social networks into one view, showing who’s connected to whom and enabling them to share their locations. Vodafone 360 was developed with users’ privacy and safety uppermost in mind: mechanisms which promote safe and appropriate usage, and protect users’ privacy, are core to the proposition. In particular, users can review their profile and manage what, if any, information they wish to share with their groups of contacts on a single, easy-to-use ‘privacy settings’ page on the web, and from a privacy widget on the mobile device.

We have continued to work on the issues of privacy and freedom of expression in the human rights context throughout the financial year. In particular, we are now finalising a global policy on the way we provide assistance to Government law enforcement authorities to ensure respect for the human rights of our users.

Climate change

Our climate change strategy has three key elements: limiting our own carbon dioxide (‘CO2’) emissions, developing products and services to reduce the emissions of our customers and working with our suppliers to develop joint strategies for CO2 emissions reduction.

In 2008 we announced that by 2020 we will reduce our CO2 emissions by 50% against the 2007 financial year baseline which included all operating companies within the Group throughout the 2007 financial year. We have now restated our target to include all of our operating companies based in countries obligated under the Kyoto protocol including those that have joined the Group since 31 March 2007; this reduced the 2007 baseline by 73,000 tonnes. In addition, Vodafone Australia has been removed from the target as it is no longer a subsidiary. We are now seeking a 50% reduction against a baseline of 1.04 million tonnes.

The primary strategy to achieve the 50% reduction is through direct reduction in CO2 emissions through the evolution of network technology, investment in energy efficiency and by making greater use of renewably generated electricity. Energy use associated with the operation of the network accounts for around 80% of our CO2 emissions. In the 2010 financial year the total energy use of our operations, excluding India, increased by 7.7% to 3,278 GWh. This increase reflects the continued growth of networks in existing markets. The total CO2 emissions for those operating companies covered by the 50% reduction target decreased by 9%, to 0.94 million tonnes of CO2.

Climate change strategies and energy intensity targets are being developed for those operating companies which are not covered by the 50% target. In India activities have been focused on improving the quality of data to establish a baseline and support target setting. The instability and limited coverage of the national electricity grid requires diesel generation on the majority of sites. We are trialling the use of onsite micro-renewable generation and the use of batteries as the main power source to reduce diesel consumption in remote sites where there may be no access to the electricity grid. The majority of our network sites in India are managed by our joint venture, Indus Towers. Estimated CO2 data for India has been reported alongside our consolidated totals for the 2010 financial year and we continue to work with our suppliers to capture more accurate information.

In the 2010 financial year the total CO2 emissions of our operating companies, excluding India, were 1.2 million tonnes. The estimated CO2 emissions of our operations in India were approximately 2.3 million tonnes which includes emissions from the network sites managed by Vodafone and the network sites managed by third parties, principally Vodafone’s joint venture, Indus Towers.

In the 2009 financial year we established a target to set joint CO2 reduction strategies with suppliers accounting for 50% of relevant spend by 2012. The strategies will help Vodafone, our customers or our suppliers to reduce CO2 emissions.

Sustainable products and services

The information and communications technology (‘ICT’) industry has a major role to play in delivering wider benefits to society beyond its own operations. Our industry is part of the solution to the challenge of climate change ( and can also contribute to more efficient delivery of public services.

In the 2009 financial year we published a report in conjunction with Accenture: “Carbon connections: quantifying mobile’s role in tackling climate change”. The report provided detailed, quantified assessments of 13 wireless opportunities demonstrating that in 2020 these opportunities could save 2.4% of expected EU emissions or €43 billion in energy costs alone. This would require a billion mobile connections, 87% of which are machine-to-machine (‘M2M’), connecting one piece of equipment wirelessly with another. We have established a dedicated M2M service platform which aims to meet the expected rise in demand for M2M services around the world as more companies look to improve efficiency. This unit has set a target of providing ten million carbon reducing M2M connections by 2013. This target has been restated from the 2009 financial year as we were not able to accurately define the global baseline.

We have established a new mobile health solutions business unit this year to accelerate the development of healthcare solutions. Mobile technology offers significant opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health services . Much of this can be achieved using existing technologies and we are working with healthcare providers, governments and pharmaceutical companies to fully understand how we can help.

We are also working to reduce the environmental impact of our products and services and since November 2009 the Samsung Blue Earth phone has been introduced in seven of our markets. The phone is designed to be environmentally friendly and has a full touchscreen and other advanced multimedia features.

We continue to address the reuse and recycling of handsets, accessories and network equipment and we have worked with suppliers to ensure substances prohibited by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive are phased out. We comply with the EU’s Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive through handset recycling programmes in all operating companies where it applies. During the 2010 financial year 1.33 million phones were collected for reuse and recycling through collection programmes in 15 local operating companies. 5,870 tonnes of network equipment waste was generated in all operating companies (not including India) with 98% of this sent for reuse or recycling.

Responsible business practices

Mobile phones, masts and health

We recognise that there is public concern about the safety of radio frequency (‘RF’) fields from mobile phones and base stations. For authoritative advice on potential health effects from mobile phones and masts we look to independent reviews of the entire body of evidence by panels of experts in the field, commissioned by recognised national or international health agencies. We provide access to such expert reviews of the science on our website (available at

We understand that even with the current large body of scientific evidence, the World Health Organization (‘WHO’) considers there are a few areas where uncertainty remains and additional research is needed. In 2006 the WHO identified the following three main areas for additional research: long-term (more than 10 years) exposure to low-level RF fields, potential health effects of mobile device use in children and the way the levels of RF fields absorbed are calculated. We continue to contribute to the funding of independent scientific research in these areas via national and international research programmes. In 2010 the WHO plans to review again what further research may still be needed.

We require manufacturers of mobile devices to test for compliance with limits set by the International Commissions on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (‘ICNIRP’) limits for specific absorption rate (‘SAR’). Depending on the mobile device we require testing to be performed for use both at the ear and against, or near, the body. We have been actively engaged with the International Electrotechnical Commission (‘IEC’) standards organisation to develop a new global protocol for testing phones for use against, or near, the body. This new IEC standard, to be published in 2010, better reflects the ways customers now use mobile devices.

Responsible network deployment

We recognise that network deployment can cause concern to communities, usually regarding the visual impact of base stations or health issues concerning RF fields.

For many years we have implemented a responsible network deployment policy covering these issues. In recognition that we are increasingly working with outsourced partners in delivering the most efficient network we have commissioned an external party to analyse the systems and controls we have in place to ensure our contractors meet this policy.

We continue to engage closely with local communities as part of the planning process for new masts. Our long-term programme of engagement with a range of stakeholders demonstrates that we place importance on acting responsibly. In surveys of external stakeholder opinion conducted annually over the last three years, an average of 83% of respondents regarded Vodafone as acting responsibly regarding mobile phones, masts and health.

We aim to comply with local planning regulations but are sometimes found to be in breach. This is normally related to conflicting local, regional or national planning regulations. During the 2010 financial year we were found to be in breach of planning regulations relating to 370 of our total 104,344 mast sitings. Fines levied by regulatory bodies or courts in relation to offences under environmental law or regulations were approximately £89,000.

Supply chain

We continue to work to improve labour and environmental standards across our supply chain. This year we reviewed and updated our Code of Ethical Purchasing and Supplier Evaluation Scorecard. Both now include more stringent labour and environmental requirements for suppliers. During the 2010 financial year we:

  • assessed 64 suppliers against our evaluation scorecard on social and environmental aspects. The scorecard allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses in our suppliers’ sustainability management and performance programmes and highlight areas where improvement is needed. Over the last four years we have evaluated over 638 suppliers; and
  • carried out 24 on-site evaluations of high risk suppliers. During these visits we identified 139 areas for improvement, mainly concerning the inadequacy of practices on health and safety and working hours.

Social investment

The Vodafone Foundation and its network of 27 local operating company and associate foundations have continued to implement a global social investment programme. During the 2010 financial year the Company made a charitable grant of £18.0 million to the Vodafone Foundation. In addition, operating companies made charitable grants totalling a further £17 million to their foundations and a further £4 million directly to social causes. Total donations for the year ended 31 March 2010 were £41.7 million and included donations of £2.7 million towards foundation operating costs.

The Vodafone Foundation made grants to charitable partners engaged in a range of global projects. Its areas of focus are: utilising mobile technology for the benefit of all, sport and music as a means of benefiting some of the most disadvantaged young people and their communities, and disaster relief and preparedness.

The majority of the Vodafone Foundation funds are distributed in grants through operating company foundations to a variety of local charitable organisations meeting the needs of the communities in which they operate.

Key performance indicators(1)

  2010(2) 2009(2) 2008(2)
Vodafone Group      
Energy use (GWh) (direct and indirect) 3,278 3,044 2,920
Carbon dioxide emissions (millions of tonnes) 1.21 1.22 1.30
Percentage of energy sourced from renewables 23 19 18
Number of phones collected for reuse and recycling (millions) 1.33 1.53(3) 1.14(3)
Network equipment waste generated (tonnes) 5,870 4,944(3) 4,199
Percentage of network equipment waste sent for reuse or recycling 98 97 95
These performance indicators were calculated using actual or estimated data collected by our mobile operating companies. The data is sourced from invoices, purchasing requisitions, direct data measurement and estimations where required. The carbon dioxide emissions figures are calculated using the kWh/CO2 conversion factor for the electricity provided by the national grid, suppliers or the International Energy Agency and for other energy sources in each operating company. The data excludes India, Ghana, Qatar and Vodacom. Our joint venture in Italy is included in all years. Amounts related to the 2008 financial year exclude Tele2 in Italy and Spain.
Australia is excluded as it is no longer a subsidiary; the comparative data for 2009 and 2009 has also been restated.
Amounts related to the 2009 and 2008 financial years have been amended. Refer to the online sustainability report for further information.

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