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ESG in Technology, Media & Telecommunications

Driving value through sustainability

To better understand the Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Industry’s role in today’s most pressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, Deloitte is interviewing industry leaders, investors, experts and policy makers to highlight best practices in ESG across the ecosystem.

In conversation with Dorothee D’Herde, Head of Sustainable Business, Vodafone Group

During this interview, Deloitte’s Global TMT Industry Leader, Ariane Bucaille, has an insightful discussion with Dorothee D’Herde, Head of Sustainable Business at Vodafone Group.

Vodafone has set ambitious targets for sustainability. To reach these goals the company seeks to:

  1. Maintain profitability through responsible business practices, strong governance and effective leadership.
  2. Leverage efficiencies in expense items such as energy use.
  3. Find new value pools through innovation and new product offerings.

The company can point to several examples where these principles have been brought to life.

In Africa and Turkey, where large mobile gender-gaps exist, Vodafone aims to connect an additional thirty million women to their networks by 2025. The business case lies in the facts that women have lower churn rates and are more likely to recommend Vodafone to others. Greater connectivity has been shown to lead to improved social outcomes in health, education and financial inclusion. Vodafone also sponsors a service that sends mothers text messages with information on childcare.

The popularity of M-Pesa, a mobile payment platform, makes it an important source of revenue for Vodafone, especially in Africa. The service has helped scores of women leave subsistence farming and improve their prospects

Vodafone’s Digital for Green services helps corporate customers reduce carbon emissions through applications that can target energy, logistics and agriculture. In Guadalajara, Vodafone connected 13,000 LED lights to smart systems, resulting in a 68% reduction in energy use.

 

Engagement with external stakeholders has increased over the past few years as investors put greater value on ESG factors. Requests for information are more frequent and more thorough as part of rigorous analyses of the risks and opportunities presented by ESG. Interest in ESG is also high among regulators (e.g., the European Union), Vodafone’s corporate customers, employees and civil society.

Measuring the impact of ESG initiatives remains difficult but Vodafone has been working to improve its understanding of the impact of its products. For example: a project in the United Kingdom provided half a million data sims to schools with students unable to get online during the lockdown. The impact was measured in terms of days of school that would have otherwise been lost.

Vodafone has set emissions targets for its suppliers. To that end, ESG scores now count for 20% in their assessment of new vendors. They are working with their largest suppliers to encourage them to join Vodafone in its net-zero emission goals.

Covid and climate have been responsible for driving newer ways of thinking about ESG including collaboration between companies and with United Nations (UN) bodies, NGOs and others. Recently, Vodafone collaborated with the UN to improve access to affordable phones. “Change the Face” is an industry alliance that promotes diversity. While each are different, they all start with clear objectives for tangible outcomes.

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