financial year ending 31 March 2021
The following section 172(1) statement and statement on employee involvement and commitment, which is referred to in the section 172(1) statement, are extracted from Vodafone Limited’s ("the Company") strategic report and directors report (respectively) for the year ended 31 March 2021. These reports were approved by the board of directors on 1 December 2021.
In accordance with section 172 of the Companies Act 2006 each of the directors acts in the way that he or she considers, in good faith, would most likely promote the success of the Company for the benefit of its members as a whole.
All board meeting papers are required to address each of the matters noted below, if relevant, and adequate time is provided in board meetings for the directors to discuss these matters and request clarification or further information from management.
The probable consequences of any decisions in the long-term
The interests of the workforce
The need to foster the Company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and other key stakeholders
The potential impact of the Company’s operations on communities and the environment
The need to protect Vodafone’s reputation for high standards of business conduct
The Company takes stakeholder engagement seriously, because it appreciates the fundamental need to build a holistic view of its business to promote a strategy which takes account of the broader operating environment. Directors benefit from improved insight into the needs of our stakeholders, provoking discussion of the potential risks and opportunities for our business in satisfying those needs, and understanding the potential impact of decisions on affected stakeholders. Better insight and diversity of perspectives leads to more productive and balanced board of directors’ discussions on complex issues and, as a result, decisions are well-considered.
All board meeting papers relating to a principal decision are required to state whether, and to what extent, any key stakeholder group has an interest in the matter. Adequate time is provided in board meetings for the directors to consider and discuss the interests of stakeholders and request clarification or further information from management.
The Company’s board of directors is committed to engaging with stakeholders directly wherever possible. Provided below is an overview of the Company’s board engagement with our key stakeholder groups during the year.
A number of engagement and feedback mechanisms for our employees are well established at the Company which are discussed further within the Director’s Report under Employee Involvement and Commitment.
In response to COVID-19 changing the way we work, we quickly introduced a pulse survey which regularly seeks the views of our employees. It has been encouraging to see strong levels of engagement and positive themes highlighted throughout the period of the pandemic and as we shape our future working environment.
The Company is part of the wider Vodafone Group and operates under a global supply chain management function. The Group is helped by more than 10,500 suppliers who partner with it. These range from start-ups and small businesses to large multinational companies. Our suppliers provide us with the products and services we need to deliver our strategy and connect our customers.
During the year the Group engaged with the supply chain through virtual safety forums, events, conferences and site visits. The Vodafone Group Plc Board received updates on the role of our key suppliers and geo-political factors impacting our global supply chains.
The Company worked with its suppliers, with the Group hosting a technology event to encourage its suppliers to explore the latest technologies. The Company along with the wider Group provided faster payment terms to support over 1,200 smaller businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Community & Environment:
The Company’s board of directors has consistently championed and engaged in furthering our impact in the community through our Company purpose activity, to connect a better future. This means we’re creating a digital society which is sustainable and leaves no one behind. The community impact is demonstrated through our award-winning tech for good programmes and by developing and rolling out technologies that have transformed lives (DreamLab, Bright Sky & TecSOS). We are also committed to tackling digital exclusion and working with others to close the digital divide. Our response to the pandemic has been to act quickly to provide connectivity to those who weren’t online and our efforts have helped hundreds of thousands of people to access healthcare, education, support and keep in touch with their families when they otherwise could not. We have also designed some tariffs and propositions to close the digital divide, including schools.connected which enabled 500,000 school children and students to access free connectivity, VOXI for Now which provided an affordable package for jobseekers, and communities.connected, which helped charities and other organisations provide low cost connectivity for their beneficiaries, and we’re providing digital skills training for 100,000 small businesses to enable them to make the most of the 5G network we provide.
In response to our environmental impact, our Board has committed to accelerating our commitment to reach net zero across our business and operations, and halve emissions from our suppliers, products and employee travel by 2027, which is 3 years ahead of our Group goal. We have achieved our goal of powering our network by 100% renewable electricity supply for our network, offices and stores with as much generated on-site by solar or wind as possible. We have also committed to achieve zero e-waste to landfill by 2025 and to help our customers reduce emissions through our products and services.
Employee involvement and commitment
Employee involvement and commitment is encouraged throughout the Company and is the responsibility of the board of directors.
To ensure consistent and meaningful engagement, the directors engage regularly and directly with employees via Listen Live, a regular virtual interactive session run by our CEO and General Management Team, via an internal social media platform. We provide regular updates on the UK strategic priorities and financial results, and it provides a forum for employees to ask questions directly of our directors. Our directors are also kept informed of employee feedback via regular employee surveys and receive feedback on important employee matters relating to the Company.
The Company also recognises the importance of providing information to, and consulting with, its employees about workplace issues, such as company policies, health & safety and matters affecting terms and conditions of employment. The Employee Consultation Council (“the ECC”) was established in 2014 as the primary mechanism for informing and consulting upon such matters. In recognition of the significant number of UK based employees of other companies within the Group, the ECC also operates as an information and consultation forum for those employees.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of our employees have been working from home. During this time, it has been all the more important to ensure that everyone feels connected, engaged and valued. We have achieved this through frequent company wide and business area specific updates, presentations and meetings and by making use of our online social forums to host things like quizzes, virtual ‘tea breaks’ and activities which employees and their families can all engage in.
Consultation with employees or their representatives has continued at all levels, with the aim of ensuring that their views are taken into account when policy decisions are made that are likely to affect their interests, and that all employees are aware of the financial and economic performance of their business units and of the Company as a whole. Communication with all employees continues through the range of channels outlined above.
The directors of the Company are committed to the principle of employee share participation, providing employees with the opportunity to acquire Group’s shares on an advantageous basis operated under HM Revenue & Customs approved share scheme arrangements. This opportunity is provided through the Sharesave programme.
Applications for employment by disabled persons are always fully considered, bearing in mind the respective aptitudes and abilities of the applicant concerned. In the event of members of staff becoming disabled, every effort is made to ensure that their employment with the Company continues and that appropriate training is arranged. It is the policy of the Company that the training, career development and promotion of a disabled person should, as far as possible, be identical to that of a person who does not suffer from a disability and we will consider all reasonable adjustments to achieve that aim.