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Update on the Progress of Virgin Media’s 5 Year Sustainability Goals

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 (11:37 am) - Score 931

Last year Virgin Media committed itself to achieving five “ambitious” sustainability goals by 2020, such as expanding the reach of their ultrafast broadband network to 4 million more premises (Project Lightning) “without increasing its carbon footprint.” Today we’ve got an update the progress.

According to Virgin Media’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Brigitte Trafford, “In the past year, we’ve lowered our carbon footprint, supported small businesses and entrepreneurs, increased the number of women in senior roles and transformed the lives of disabled people with Scope. With our ‘five in five’ goals we’re now focused on doing more good with digital.”

In our original article we summarised the operator’s key goals as follows, although there’s a lot more detail behind each one (see further below).

The Five Sustainability Goals

1. Nurture a workforce which represents the diversity of its customers and communities.

2016 Progress:

n 2015 the percentage of women in senior roles increased to 32%, 2% more than in 2014. By 2018, Virgin Media aims to have 40% of senior roles occupied by women. Across the European telecoms industry, just 20% of top roles are held by women.

2. Expand ultrafast broadband to 4m more premises without increasing its carbon footprint.

2016 Progress:

In 2015 Virgin Media reduced its absolute Scope 1 & 2 carbon footprint by 6.1%, its biggest reduction ever. The company achieved this through a wide-ranging programme of energy efficiency projects and a major reduction in truck journeys. Virgin Media has reduced truck journeys by more than 800,000, which equates to a reduction of over 2.3 million miles and is 300,000 journeys more than the original target for 2015.

These efficiency projects have enabled Virgin Media to increase the amount of data on its network by 45% while reducing the CO2e per terabyte of data by 35%.

Virgin Media was able to reduce its truck journeys as result of better route planning, increased fault diagnosis and an increase in ‘QuickStart’, which enables customers to self-install their services.

3. Give 100,000 small businesses the ability to thrive in the UK’s economy through digital.

2016 Progress:

Virgin Media Pioneers is an online community dedicated to inspiring, supporting and celebrating small business founders and entrepreneurs. Last year, Virgin Media revamped its Pioneers website to provide advice from leading small business experts, driving an increase in Pioneers to 9,280, a 14% increase on the year before. Virgin Media also ran bespoke digital skills training for 80 Pioneers, sharing best business practice.

The Company also ran the Virgin Media Accelerator powered by TechStars, a three month mentor-led accelerator programme for 10 innovative start-up companies.

4. Transform the lives of disadvantaged people in the UK through digital technology.

2016 Progress:

Since launching its two year partnership with Scope in 2015, Virgin Media has raised more than £130,000 through employee fundraising, donated over 1,720 bags of stock to Scope charity shops and launched a Technology Innovation Forum to find innovative solutions to the challenges disabled people face.

The Virgin Media funded ‘Connect Families’ initiative is being piloted in three locations to help the parents of disabled children share their experiences and support one another, building on the excellent face-to-face service Scope already provides.

The Company has also appointed nine employees as ‘Digital for Good Champions’ across the UK, with 25% of their time dedicated to supporting Scope.

5. Improve the sustainability performance of every new customer product.

2016 Progress:

Virgin Media created its first ever product scorecard to measure the environmental and social impacts of the Company’s products and ensure that sustainability criteria are incorporated into product design and development. Virgin Media will soon launch the scorecard results for its latest WiFi hub which will act as the baseline for future products that are tested with the product scorecard.

The full summary of progress (PDF) confirms that they’re mostly on target, although many of the stated goals aren’t especially well fleshed out or have been generalised to the point of being easily achievable (e.g. “Identify further opportunities for renewables“).

Never the less it’s good to see any company adopt a more positive future focus. On top of that it’s worth pointing out that BT, Sky Broadband and Virgin Media all managed to appear within the top 40 of a recent study that examined the environmental performance of the 500 largest publicly-traded companies by market capitalisation (here).

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