The annual publication of our Sustainability Report is not only a good opportunity to take stock of our results in the social, economic and environmental fields, but also to reflect on the way in which we repeatedly achieve these results every year. At Telenet, we strive for sustainable growth, with a good balance between operational excellence and social responsibility.
Sustainable entrepreneurship is no sinecure: do our objectives for sustainable development still meet stakeholder expectations? Do the sustainability programs have the social impact that we had in mind? We have to permanently weight, evaluate and adjust our plans. In short, sustainability requires constant deliberation. Fortunately, there are also a number of golden rules, strong anchors for a successful policy in corporate social responsibility:
1/ Anchor sustainability within your own organization
Sustainability initiatives that do not match the company's strategy have little chance of success. That is why it is better to focus on projects that start from the actual needs of the business or that build on strategic initiatives within the company.
Telenet, for example, has been investing heavily in its fixed and mobile networks since 2014. The development of a future-proof network infrastructure meets a specific need, but also has an important ecological dimension. Because of their high electricity consumption, networks and data centers have a negative impact on the environment. In the modernization of the network infrastructure, investments are therefore made in innovative applications and concrete measures that increase energy efficiency. We are thereby not only building a more performant network, but also a network that uses less electricity. A strategic business project with an investment over the longer term can therefore also make an important difference with regard to sustainability.
On top of that, sustainability initiatives that are firmly anchored in business projects do also have a positive impact on the employee engagement: employees have the feeling that they are actively contributing to a higher - social - goal, which also strengthens their motivation.
2/ Share your experience and expertise
Committing to a social challenge you are unfamiliar with as a company requires a large investment in time, knowledge and resources, and often does not lead to the desired result. As such, it is better to focus on CSR projects that offer a concrete answer to socio-economic or environmental challenges that you, as a company, are also facing. Your own experience, insights and expertise allow you to work out an efficient solution, which also significantly increases the chances that the project will succeed.
For example, Telenet - like many other technology companies - is constantly looking for new talent, with a special focus on employees with STEM skills. Talent is particularly scarce on the Belgian labor market though. That is why we are actively pursuing our own initiatives, such as the 'Young Graduate Program', which gives newly graduated Master's students the opportunity to gain a first work experience.
In addition, we do also support external recruitment and training initiatives that focus on youngsters out of socially vulnerable communities, such as BeCode that offers underserved youngsters with free professional training to become a web developer. As a founding partner of BeCode, we share our expertise and experience so that the training courses can be better attuned to the needs of the labor market; we support BeCode alumni and offer them internships within Telenet.
3/ Aim for structural collaborations
You cannot achieve sustainable entrepreneurship on your own. Changes in society are often complex and require a collective approach with an active involvement from the industry, the government and civil society. By working together in a structural manner, you build up solutions that have a tangible impact in the long term.
A good example is our structural cooperation with the social enterprise Vlotter. Together, we recycle 220,000 decoders and modems every year, which means we can avoid up to 330 tons of waste per year. This collaboration has an important ecological impact, but also a strong social dimension thanks to the employment of sixty people who have limited access to the labor market.
The impulse to take a collaborative approach to societal challenges can also be initiated by the government or by a stakeholder group that unites around a specific topic. The 'Talent2Connect' platform of the Belgian sustainability network 'The Shift' brings various players - including Telenet - together in order to facilitate the integration of socially vulnerable young people into the Belgian labor market. The various parties share experiences, knowledge and expertise and, together, they develop solutions that promote the employment of young people.
Would you like to learn more about our investments in sustainability and the results we achieved in 2017?
Then be sure to check out the Telenet Sustainability Report 2017.