link to
Annual Report > Home > Our commitment to society Download pdf | Print page | Contact us | Return to

Our commitment to society

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Our challenge is to manage social, ethical and environmental issues in ways that grow shareholder value and help make sustainable development happen.
     The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes rank companies for their success in meeting this challenge. During the 2004 financial year, BT was ranked as the top telecommunications company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the third year running.
     We also hold the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of our contribution to sustainable development.
     This section of the report, together with the broad statement on social, environmental and ethical matters included in the section on Corporate governance, provides information in response to the Association of British Insurers’ disclosure guidelines on social responsibility.
     More detailed disclosures on BT’s implementation of social, ethical and environmental policies and procedures are available online in our independently-verified social and environmental report, which has been prepared in accordance with the 2002 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines.

CSR governance
The Board is kept informed of BT’s main CSR risks and opportunities and any new developments which may impact on its duties and reviews annually our CSR strategy. In addition, social, ethical and environmental matters have been incorporated into the directors’ induction programme.
     A Board committee – the Community Support Committee – oversees community, charitable and arts expenditure and establishes the strategy for maximising our contribution to society. The committee, chaired by Sir Christopher Bland, consists of representatives from BT businesses, two non-executive directors and two external independent members, who have a reputation for excellence in this field.
     An executive committee, the Corporate Social Responsibility Steering Group (CSRSG), oversees the implementation of our CSR programme. This includes risk assessment, target and objective setting, ISO14001 certification – the international standard for environmental management systems – and public accountability.
     The CSRSG consists of CSR champions nominated by the lines of business and six support functions (human resources, corporate governance, health and safety, finance, communications and procurement).
     The CSRSG is chaired by BT’s overall CSR champion, Alison Ritchie, Chief Broadband Officer and a member of the Operating Committee. It is supported by advice from an independent panel of CSR experts.
     To ensure that CSR is embedded into BT’s commercial operations, we undertake CSR ‘‘health checks’’ of our main commercial initiatives.
     These health checks identify specific social, economic and environmental impacts (both positive and negative) and particular CSR risks and opportunities. A report is then compiled, including recommended actions.
     We have important relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including employees, customers and suppliers. We engage with these stakeholders in a number of ways, including consumer liaison panels, an annual employee survey and a supplier relationship management programme.
     We also employ a number of CSR experts who investigate long-term societal trends, identify potential issues that might affect the business and support BT’s commercial activities.
     We have identified 11 non-financial KPIs (key performance indicators) in this context to provide a quick overview of BT’s social and environmental performance.
     These KPIs have also been used to establish ten strategic social and environmental targets and are published in our social and environmental report.

Social, environmental and ethical risks
During the 2004 financial year, we developed a separate CSR risk register that sets out our important social, ethical and environmental risks. It identifies the following risks as the most significant in the context of CSR:
blue square supply chain working conditions
blue square health and safety
blue square climate change
blue square diversity
blue square geography of jobs (‘‘offshoring’’)
blue square breach of the code of business ethics.
       Each of these CSR risks has a risk owner and mitigation strategy in place (more detail can be found in our social and environmental report).

CSR business opportunities
Following a detailed statistical analysis of customer opinion data going back up to 80 months and based on tens of thousands of interviews, we have been able to show that a 1% improvement in the public’s perception of our CSR activities results in a 0.1% increase in our retail customer satisfaction figures.
     This is a critical correlation and shows how important it is not only to protect our reputation through appropriate risk management activities, but also to enhance it through our community activities.
     Long-term sustainability trends are creating market opportunities for us, such as the use of teleconferencing and flexible working to reduce the need to travel and provide more flexible lifestyles.
     Increasingly, BT has to address social and environmental matters when bidding for business. In the 2004 financial year, bids to the value of almost £900 million required us to demonstrate expertise in managing these issues.

BT is one of the largest consumers of industrial and commercial electricity in the UK, and the growth of broadband is likely to increase our electricity use. However, during the 2004 financial year, a £675,000 investment in our energy conservation programme enabled us to reduce our electricity consumption by 1.5%.
     The use of renewable energy and combined heat and power – together with energy and transport efficiency measures – has enabled us to reduce our global-warming CO2 emissions by 42% since 1996. We have set a target to cap our 2010 CO2 emissions at 25% below those of 1996.

CO2 emissions            
Financial year 2004 2003 2002

Total (UK only; million tonnes) 0.92   0.96   1.03  
% below 1996 42%   40% 36%
Tonnes per £1m turnover 50   51   56  

During the 2004 financial year, we received an income of £4 million from our recycling activities, offset against the £10 million we spent managing our waste contracts, recycling our waste and sending waste to landfill.

Financial year
2004 2003 2002

Total waste (tonnes) 107,303   117,688   114,999  
Total waste recycled (tonnes) 27,626   27,809   24,099  
% Recycled 26% 24% 21%

Also during the 2004 financial year we reduced both our commercial fleet – still one of the largest in the UK – and our fuel consumption by 4%.

Financial year
2004 2003 2002

Number of vehicles (UK only) 32,663   33,979   37,509
Fuel consumption (million litres) 53.85   56.12   62.76

Digital inclusion
Digital inclusion is a key public policy issue and we are working with the UK Government and the voluntary sector to find effective ways to use communications technology to tackle social exclusion.
     In particular, we launched a digital inclusion campaign to support the Government’s aim to give all citizens online access within the next few years and demonstrate how communications can help improve society.
     A key element of the campaign is the ‘‘Everybodyonline’’ programme, established in partnership with charity campaign group, Citizens Online. The campaign is currently focused on eight deprived communities and aims to increase skills and access to communications technology in underprivileged areas and to deepen the understanding of the causes and effects of the digital divide and how they may be addressed nationally.

Disability services
Our Age and Disability Action team promotes equal access to a wide range of products and services. We work directly with older and disabled people and their representatives to raise awareness of BT’s inclusive approach.
     For people with hearing or speech impairments, for example, our textphone offers easy access to BT TextDirect – the service that enables users to dial direct to other text or voice users. Customers with visual or mobility impairments benefit from products with large clear keypads and cordless or hands-free options. A variety of new products and network services with mixed-ability appeal will be launched during the 2005 financial year.
     We continue to offer services to protect the telephone lines of people who need support. This includes free directory enquiries for those unable to use the printed directory and billing, service and product information in a variety of formats, such as Braille and large print.
     We are committed to increasing the accessibility of our internet pages. In the 2004 financial year, our Age and Disability Action website ( age_disability) was awarded the RNIB See it Right logo.

We commit a minimum of 0.5% of our UK pre-tax profits to direct activities in support of society. This has ranged from £10 million in 1987, peaking at £16 million in 2001 and was £5.6 million (including £1.2 million to charities) in the 2004 financial year. BT operations also provided a further £12.4 million in funding and support in kind over the past financial year.
     The focus of our community programmes is on big issues where better communication can make a real difference to society.
     For example, more than 9,500 schools and over two million young people have taken part in the BT Education Programme – a drama-based campaign helping children to improve their communication skills. This activity is supported by our volunteering programme which, at 31 March 2004, had 3,000 registered volunteers working with schools.
     We are working with ChildLine on a major new campaign to raise funds to ensure that every one of the 4,000 children who call ChildLine every day has his/her call answered.
     In addition, BT people gave £2 million directly to charities during the 2004 financial year through Give as you Earn, to which BT added a direct contribution of £1 million.


   back to top     

© BT Group plc 2004       Privacy policy