The report was prepared independently by KPMG South Africa and Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore described it as the most detailed in the East African region complying with the stringent standards set in the Global Reporting Initiative and in line with requirements set by the UN Global Compact Board.
“We’re publishing this report today because we feel it’s important for us to report on our operations in a holistic perspective and to report on our sustainability credentials,” he said.
“We want to broaden our ethical and moral commitments and we want to adopt and support sustainable and responsible policies. We want to demonstrate leadership in sustainability, as well as sustainability reporting across Kenya,” he explained.
The report covers eight strategic pillars that include the regulatory environment, energy and network security, innovation, ethical supply chain conduct, corporate ethics, environmental impact and employee engagement.
As a signatory to the UN Global Compact and the Code of Ethics of Business in Kenya, Safaricom has made a commitment to ethical business practices by increasing its prosecution of fraud cases to deter fraud and by holding intensive awareness sessions which are supplemented by emails and bulletins to the staff throughout the year.
Collymore was recently appointed to a three-year term as honorary member of United Nations Global Compact Board, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
He noted that sustainability relies on the assessment of internal business policies and the firm’s efforts to introduce transformational products and services to the market.
“We have taken the bold move to embrace sustainability reporting since we know business today has to move from just doing the right things to doing things the right way,” he noted.
“We have taken a critical look at the impact of our actions and decisions on the economy, climate, political environment, social, governance and environmental ecosystem. This report is really about our collective future,” he emphasised.
The company is already making efforts to even the ratio of male to female employees which currently stands at 1:1.3 and they have committed themselves to recycling electronic waste, using renewable energy in their operations and reducing the amount of carbon emissions in running their equipment.
The firm has also created subsidized gym facilities, nursery school facilities and leisure services as part of their employee wellness programme.
In an effort to retain talent, they have also implemented a blend of instructor led and e-learning courses which are accessible to their 2,750 employees in the categories of officers, specialists and operatives.
“We recognize that corporate ethics and governance are key factors that underpin a company’s reputation and we want to communicate a shared set of values across our ecosystem,” he said.
“Sometimes, this will be good news and sometimes, it will show our failings, and we’re proud to show our failings because it’s only by admitting these failings that we will commit ourselves to putting it right,” he explained.
Safaricom uses a mixture of grid energy, diesel and renewable energy (solar and wind power) to power its 3,000 base stations, but the firm is aiming to diversify its energy sources in an effort to rely less on the use of diesel.
Half of Safaricom base stations are entirely run on diesel power because renewable energy base stations present a challenge due to their high cost, costing twice as much as ordinary base stations.
The firm’s environmental management framework has helped them devise an automated system modelled around ISO14001, a family of standards related to environmental management that exists to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment (cause adverse changes to air, water or land), comply with applicable laws, regulations and other environmentally oriented requirements.
While setting up close to 300 base transceiver stations in 2011, Safaricom conducted environmental impact assessments to determine the sustainability and environmental soundness of the installations.
“We generally want to improve diesel and electricity consumption in our facilities,” Collymore noted.
Sustainability reporting is a concept based on the 1987 report of the Brundtland Commission and it’s the main focus of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI), which tracks 2,500 companies and provides a reference point for investors who want to invest in companies operating in a sustainable and ethical manner.
Listed companies are selected based on their long term economic strategy, environmental asset management and social plans.
By launching the report, Safaricom joins Kenya Commercial Bank (2009) as businesses that have launched sustainability reports and practice social responsible investing.