Responsible Governance Award: Vodafone New Zealand – Stakeholder commitment

Vodafone’s commitment to responsible and ethical governance is entrenched. The company’s founding ethical principles are enshrined within its written Business Principles which, in turn, reside within the Vodafone Code of Conduct. The code explains how all employees should apply the principles in practice.
Elements of stakeholder governance were integrated into Vodafone’s corporate responsibility management process some years ago. The Vodafone New Zealand management board – consisting of directors and other senior executives – operates an approved stakeholder engagement plan. Individual executives each have stakeholders assigned to them to manage high-level relationships. Every month the management board reviews stakeholder engagement activity. Twice year the company’s group executive committee is formally updated on corporate responsibility activities and the group board gets an annual update.
The stakeholder project that took the eye of this year’s Kensington Swan Responsible Governance Award judges was the kind of activity that this structure and approach is designed to capture and act on. Vodafone’s corporate responsibility strategy includes setting stakeholder targets agreed through stakeholder engagement forums. The issue of mobiles and road safety was identified as priority by these forums.
The forums included representatives from enforcement agencies such as the police, motorist groups and youth driving educators. Vodafone agreed stakeholder target to implement responsible marketing initiative to raise awareness of the dangers of using mobile phones while driving. The stakeholders, however, pushed the company to take more aggressive stance and to revisit its position on outlawing the use of handheld mobiles when driving.
Vodafone described its position at the time as “neutral”. It publicly acknowledged the use of mobiles while driving was significant distraction and hazard on the road and advised customers against it. Its position on ban was simply to not oppose it. decision to support law change would mean advocating change which limited the revenue-generating usage of Vodafone’s services. It was call which required commitment from “top level”.
In March 2008 the company strengthened its position and opted to call for ban. The call got widespread coverage and Telecom supported the move. In June, the government announced its intention to investigate ban and Vodafone contributed to the submission process.
In the run-up to the enactment of the law, Vodafone contacted stakeholders to discuss education on the new regulations and to communicate coordinated message. Its objective for involvement was, says the company, to help its customers understand the new law and to educate them on safe driving practices. The company also wanted customers to recognise that mental distraction, rather than physical manipulation of phone, was the major hazard when making call.
Awareness of this issue is still high. Vodafone recognises that behaviour change is difficult to achieve so the education process is ongoing. “Performance measurement of the project’s ultimate aim to improve road safety is difficult and it will take years to get significant statistical evidence of success,” said the company in its award submission. “However, internally we measure the success of the project through an increased public awareness of the safety issues and through our demonstration of leadership and responsiveness to our external stakeholders.”
From the award judges’ perspective this is an excellent example of responsible governance in action.

Judges Comments:
Winner
Vodafone New Zealand

Stakeholder commitment

Vodafone has consistently illustrated and articulated its deep-seated acceptance and understanding of the principles of responsible governance. The company has been finalist in the Top 200’s ethical and responsible governance award category for the past three years. It is this year’s winner both for it comprehensive and long-term commitment to responsible governance and, in particular, for actions in the past year that the award judges said “clearly reflect outstanding stakeholder commitment”.
When its stakeholder engagement forums identified the use of mobiles and road safety concerns as priority, the company responded by moving to take proactive stance and changed its position from “not opposing” law changes to “advocating change”.
The company’s actions demonstrated best practice responsible governance. Its actions:
•Were Vodafone initiative in response to stakeholder need.
•Promoted accountability and reporting against stakeholder targets.
•Involved working collaboratively across sectors to achieve positive outcome.
•Prompted an ethical decision to lobby for change with negative commercial implications.
The company had, said the judges, shown regard for the Securities Commission Corporate Governance Principle 9 which calls for consideration and respect for stakeholders’ interests and for reports on how those interests are respected. Vodafone accepted that if it was to be consistent with its principles it needed to take hard line on the use of mobiles in cars. It was, the judges said, “a responsible leadership position” to take.


Finalist
ANZ Banking Group

Enhancing stakeholder education

ANZ New Zealand is first-time finalist in the Kensington Swan Responsible Governance Award. Internationally, however, its parent company has for four years in row been assessed as the world’s leading bank on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).
The DJSI’s corporate responsibility assessment ranks performance and business practices including corporate governance, risk management, customer relations, brand management, human resources, corporate community investment, climate change mitigation and environmental performance.
In the past year, ANZ New Zealand has focused strongly on customer relations, helping communities grow, strengthening corporate governance and creating risk aware culture. The judges were particularly impressed by the bank’s partnership with Runanga o Ngai Tahu, the governing body of Ngai Tahu Whanau, to undertake what is one of the world’s first indigenous people’s financial knowledge surveys.
The bank began working with Ngai Tahu in pilot project to tailor and adapt its Money Minded financial education programme to reflect iwi culture and experiences. The long-term aim is to offer the programme to all iwi in New Zealand.
The bank’s education programme is designed to better the financial position of Maori which will, in turn, have significant flow-on impacts by addressing negative social wellbeing indicators. The survey is an important part in the process of improving people’s ability to make informed decisions about how they manage their money and plan for the future.


Finalist
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters

Sustainable stakeholder management

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters, (RTA Pacific), is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most responsibly governed enterprises. It has been finalist in the Top 200 Kensington Swan ethical governance category five times and won the award three times.Its commitment to responsible and ethical governance is unequivocal.
Its nomination as finalist this year is in large measure based on the success and sustained management of key stakeholder relationship it has established with the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Twenty years ago the company, formerly Comalco and Rio Tinto Aluminium, became major sponsor of “Kakapo Recovery” in partnership with DOC and the Forest and Bird Society. The programme is designed to prevent the extinction of New Zealand’s critically endangered native bird, the kakapo.
The partners work together to increase awareness of the programme and to improve the future for kakapo through their commitment and contributions of support, operations and funding. The company’s total commitment so far exceeds $3.75 million.
NZAS’ ongo

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