Business policies

Responsible business

To reinforce our commitment to achieve best practice in our standards of business integrity and ethics, we have had in place for nearly nine years a written statement of business practice (The Way We Work). This covers all our operations and applies worldwide to all employees, and to all agents and contractors when representing BT, and is available in nine languages. A copy has been sent to every employee and copies are also sent to the employees of newly-acquired subsidiaries.
     We measure our performance against these principles through our Ethics Performance Measure (EPM), one of our CSR key performance indicators. The EPM comprises a measure of employee awareness of The Way We Work, our ranking in an external benchmarking of a selection of FTSE 100 companies and the results of a survey on the extent to which employees consider our activities ethical. In the 2008 financial year, the EPM was 85%.
     Global sourcing, a key aspect of which is managing a complex global supply chain, is increasingly important to BT. Through our Sourcing with Human Dignity initiative, we seek to ensure that working conditions in our supply chain meet internationally recognised human rights standards. We investigate potential social and environmental shortcomings and are committed to achieving 100% follow-up within three months for all suppliers identified as high- or medium-risk. During the 2008 financial year, we conducted 25 risk assessments in India, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Romania. We also conduct a survey every two years to establish the effectiveness of our relationships with suppliers. The next survey will be carried out in the 2009 financial year.
     During the 2008 financial year, we have increased the emphasis on the environmental aspects of our supply chain by reinforcing our new (2007) procurement principles which cover the energy consumption and environmental impacts of products and services through the whole life cycle. We have committed that any replacement products will have a lower energy rating than the previous version: this year saw the launch of our low energy phones in the UK.
     The high-level principles in The Way We Work are supported by a continuing and comprehensive communications programme and on-line training. A confidential helpline and dedicated e-mail facility are also available to employees who have questions about the application of these principles. The helpline number is also published externally. BT’s Undertakings code of practice (It matters) forms part of our statement of business practice and is consistent with it.
     A Board committee – the Committee for Responsible and Sustainable Business, chaired by Sir Michael Rake and comprising representatives from BT businesses, three non-executive directors and two independent members – with input and recommendations from executive management, oversees our corporate social responsibility, environment and community activities including charitable expenditure and the strategy for maximising our contribution to society. More information, including details of charitable donations made by the group, is available in Business review – Our wider responsibilities.


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