Stakeholder engagement

Communicating with and listening to our stakeholders – the people who can affect our business or who are affected by it – helps us understand their views and explain our perspectives.

The feedback we receive from external stakeholders informs our thinking about sustainability priorities for our business and feeds into our sustainability strategy.

Our stakeholders include:

  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and sustainability opinion formers, who are often interested in our approach to specific issues
  • consumers and enterprise customers (small and large businesses and organisations), who relate to us as a service provider
  • communities, who may be concerned about the siting of our network infrastructure
  • governments and regulators, who can affect our business through new legislation and regulations (see Public policy)
  • investors, employees and suppliers, who are directly affected by our business performance.

We tailor our engagement processes to suit each different stakeholder group. Our local markets play an important role in forming relationships with local stakeholders.

Stakeholder group How we engage Examples in 2014/15
Opinion formers and experts We consult with experts on a wide range of issues to gain feedback on our sustainability practices, priorities and challenges. We use this information to inform our strategy.

We engaged with opinion formers and experts – including investors, government officials, NGOs, academics and other businesses – through the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, which we chaired in 2014/15. At quarterly meetings and roundtable discussions, members of the Industry Dialogue discussed the challenges they faced in implementing the Industry Dialogue’s Guiding Principles and shared practical ideas about how to overcome these.

We also interviewed opinion formers as part of our research to develop our Connected Farming in India (pdf, 2.9 MB) report.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) We engage with NGOs when their campaign or focus is relevant to our business. We do this by organising face-to-face meetings and meeting representatives at relevant events. Our engagement with individual NGOs is mainly focused on specific issues.

We worked closely with the Blueprint Trust to explore how business can help to create a better society for all and deliver long-term sustainable growth, with a strong focus on respect for people. We have been identifying how best to embed the Blueprint’s principles into our decision-making activities.

As part of the Ranking Digital Rights project, Vodafone worked with other stakeholders to develop a methodology to rank ICT companies based on respect for free expression and privacy.

We continued to engage with NGOs and the Global Network Initiative through our participation in the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Privacy and Freedom of Expression.

Enterprise customers We work with our enterprise customers to help them achieve their sustainability objectives and deliver commercial services with sustainability benefits that can be scaled up and rolled out across different markets (see Transformational solutions).

We engaged with 30 enterprise customers to identify how our products and services could help them overcome challenges to sustainable growth. So far, four have agreed to partner with us to implement solutions in Africa and Asia that will support more productive agriculture (see Agriculture), more effective community engagement (see sidebar feature, right) and improve access to water.

We continued to work with certain enterprise customers to develop and provide products and services that promote sustainability, for example through our solutions that are Enabling a low carbon economy.

Consumers We communicate with consumers in many ways as part of our normal business operations, for example through our retail outlets, contact centres and customer research. Understanding their attitudes towards sustainability issues is critical to getting our strategy right.

We continued to run regular perception surveys across our markets to evaluate our reputation in local markets and globally.

We worked with Telefonica and Forum for the Future to extend our Eco Rating scheme to help consumers make informed choices on the environmental and social impacts of mobile phones (see Empowering sustainable choices).

Industry We collaborate with industry peers through our participation in industry forums on sustainability issues. These include:
  • International Telecommunication Union
  • Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC)
  • Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy
  • GSM Association (GSMA)
  • Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI).

We participated in JAC’s fourth annual conference on sustainability and corporate social responsibility in the supply chain, held in Suzhou, China. We also continued to participate in the CFSI, which aims to tackle conflict minerals by increasing transparency and traceability in the supply chain (see Responsible supply chain).

We chaired the GSMA Europe Health and Environment Operator Expert Group until November 2014 and since then we have chaired the GSMA Health Policy Group. Meeting four times a year, the Health Policy Group informs the GSMA’s position on managing electromagnetic field risk worldwide.

We engaged with business leaders and policy makers through the Digitising Europe summit, hosted by the Vodafone Institute and the Vodafone Foundation in December 2014 to help understand how digital communications can enhance socio-economic growth in Europe (see Education and employment).

Communities We consult local people to help us understand and address any concerns they may have about the deployment of our network in their communities. Our local markets continued to consult with communities on the rollout of our networks in 2014/15 (see Network deployment).
Governments and regulators We engage with regulators and governments on a wide range of issues relevant to our business and contribute to consultations on sustainability issues. See Public policy for more on our engagement with governments and regulators.
Employees We gain feedback from employees on how we are doing through our annual Global People Survey, as well as engaging informally through internal communications channels and regular meetings with managers.

We launched a new employer brand that provides a consistent way of showing people around the world what we stand for and aims to create a sense of pride in what we do.

Consistently strong engagement scores in our annual Global People Survey demonstrate our efforts to engage employees across the Group (see Our people).

Suppliers We work closely with suppliers to ensure they maintain high standards by conducting assessments and holding workshops to help them improve their performance. We also collaborate with key network suppliers to help us reduce climate impacts by improving the energy efficiency of our operations.

Through our supplier performance management programme, we engaged with our suppliers to help them meet our standards and improve their performance.

We also participated in the CDP supply chain programme to encourage suppliers to disclose and set targets to reduce energy use and carbon emissions (see Responsible supply chain).

Investors Our Investor Relations team leads our engagement with investors to communicate our business strategy and understand their views. Find out more about our engagement with investors on our Group website (see Investors).