Five years of sustainable impact

Four Virgin Media engineers stand next to a Virgin Media van
Virgin Media
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 19 August 2020

Virgin Media has officially wrapped up their five-year sustainability strategy – and the results are very encouraging.

Virgin Media - 5 years of sustainable impact

When Katie Buchanan, Head of Sustainability, and her team established the strategy in 2015, they shifted the focus from 23 short-term targets to five long-term, strategic goals to achieve by 2020. In this time, their sustainability approach transformed from a ‘nice-to-think-about’ concept into a core part of how the business works. Here are the five goals they’ve been working on:

  • Transforming lives: support one million disabled people with the skills and confidence to enter and stay in the workforce.

  • Create opportunities for 100,000 small businesses to digitally grow.

  • Improve the sustainability performance of every new customer product.

  • Nurture an engaged workplace that represents the diversity of their customers and communities.

  • Grow their business without increasing their carbon footprint.

It’s wonderful to see Virgin Media achieve four out of five of these goals, and the team assures us they are well on the way to achieving the fifth! Among these achievements includes the support of 541,549 disabled people through their charity partnership with Scope, supporting the digital growth of 127,036 small businesses through their VOOM programme and reducing their carbon footprint by 42% against their 2014 baseline.

Virgin Media's sustainability strategy reflections

Achievements like this require a culture of boldness, energy, purpose, collaboration and creativity. When I visited the Virgin Media office earlier this year, I got a sense of this energetic ambition as soon as I walked in the door. The team are now working on their next five-year sustainability strategy to ensure they continue to do the ‘responsible business basics’ and make sure no-one is left behind through their new inclusion strategy called ‘Belonging’. Virgin Media is also working with experts to set science-based targets within ambitious environmental commitments. To drive this new strategy, the Sustainability Team has reflected on the key things they’ve learnt over the past five-years. The learnings are really insightful and applicable for everyone so I thought I would share them here.

  • Find your consistency compass – establish your core principles and use them to guide every decision.

  • Partnerships power change – connection, collaboration and leveraging skills is key to accelerating change.

  • Less is more – focusing on fewer things over a longer period of time helps you get underneath an issue.

  • Creativity drives success – a big budget is less important than bold vision, strategic focus, teamwork, and creativity.

  • Let your product lead the way – ask yourself, ‘if you’re products could talk, what would they say?’

  • Digital connectivity makes good things happen  – connectivity is vital to achieving change at scale.

Image from Kami White
Image from Kami White

Thank you for sharing these valuable learnings with us and thank you to everyone at Virgin Media who has worked so hard on this strategy over the past five years. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the next five years will bring!