The 2010 Vodafone sustainability report

In CSR (corporate social responsibility) reporting, there is no generic checklist a business can follow for writing a good CSR report. Depending on the industry, the size of the company and the country it operates in, each CSR report will have different focus areas. There are however ideas you can pick from published CSR reports. In this post I will look at the 2009 CSR report of Vodafone.

Vodafone won the CR Reporting Award 2010 for its 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report. This is an excellent achievement. This week the company published the 2010 sustainability report with the title: ‘Pressing Forward’.

What can we learn from Vodafone about sustainability reporting? Why is this a good CSR report?

1. Clear overview to point out the relationship between ‘what we do’ and ‘related issues‘. This overview makes it easy to understand the rational behind the sustainability initiatives and the link with the business.

2. Vodafone publishes local reports in nine of the markets it operates in. This makes Vodafone one of the few global companies to provide sufficient resources to local CSR teams to run local CSR programs. Good!

3. Use of symbols. The graphic symbols (for links, case studies, short term targets and strategic objectives) look nice and make it easy for readers to distinguish between the different text elements.

4. Involvement of the CEO, Vittorio Colao and his personal style. In the introduction he writes: “I intervened personally on a number of occasions to reinforce our stance on the absolute priority of operating safely and protecting Vodafone employees, contractors and the general public.” The words ‘I intervened personally‘ shows strong commitment from the top which is very motivating for the employees.

5. Email address to provide feedback on the report. The first page provides the reader with an email address to give feedback.

6. Table to show ‘direct economic impact’ of the company. The overview shows the cash distibution to different groups including suppliers (31.625 million), employees (3.288 million) and shareholders (4.195 million). This overview is clearly linked to the financial report information. Vodafone has not chosen for an integrated report but the overlap is visible.

7. Link between innovation and sustainability. In several sections in the report Vodafone shows a clear link between innovation and sustainability. The company distinguishes eight strategic sustainability objectives and writes: “These eight ambitious, aspirational objectives aim to increase our overall sustainability contribution by promoting innovation within the organisation”. This positions Vodafone as true ‘bottom of the pyramid’ company.

Is there anything else you particularly like about the Vodafone report which you would like to share?

Check out the Vodafone sustainability report here.

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