Sustainability and equality: how can a telecommunications company contribute?
Sustainability and gender equality are among the most pressing issues of the 21st century. To make progress in these areas, economic players, including large companies, must take the lead. In recent years, Vodafone Hungary has launched numerous measures to reduce its carbon footprint, while gender equality has long been a strategic objective. The Budapest Business Journal spoke to Anita Orbán, Director of External Affairs of Vodafone Hungary, about the company’s future plans.
BBJ: The latest example of Vodafone’s environmental commitment has been the addition of over 100 hybrid cars. What percentage of the company’s fleet runs on fossil fuels, and when will they be replaced? When will the fleet become all-electric?
Anita Orbán: Beyond the environmental objectives at group level, we also take local commitments seriously. From 2025, the entire fleet of the company, more than 400 vehicles, will be purely electric. To begin with, 106 Škoda Octavia IV plug-in hybrid cars were acquired in September. Although less than a month has passed since, the results speak for themselves. The first month saved 93 kg of CO2; our colleagues filled their cars more than 400 times and traveled 12,423 km “electrically”. Sixty more environmentally friendly vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars, will be part of our fleet by 2022.
BBJ: Last October, Vodafone Hungary declared that it had become the first company in the country to operate 100% on renewable energy. (As of June of this year, all Vodafone subsidiaries in all European countries have done so.) Can you tell us more?
AO: Our parent company announced last summer that it will operate its European renewable energy grid by July 2021 at the latest, creating a green grid that can continue to grow in a sustainable manner. Vodafone Hungary was the first to make this commitment a reality. We are proud that our customers have been using wind and water services since October 2020. This was of crucial importance, as it was an important step towards the Vodafone group’s commitment in 2030 to reduce its carbon footprint to net zero and to extend it to its entire network of suppliers and partners by 2040. We are also very proud that Vodafone is one of more than 500 companies whose targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse have been validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative.
BBJ: You have changed the design of your SIM cards. Why is this and how was it received?
AO: We have always considered it very important to include our customers in our sustainability efforts. Besides customers using our renewable energy network, we have also tried to find green solutions for SIM cards. In 2020, we halved the size of SIM card holders, saving nearly two tonnes of plastic per year. After that, in August 2021, we made a plastic-free eSIM available to our customers. In addition, we have announced in recent weeks that, for devices not compatible with eSIM, we will provide our customers with an ecoSIM made of 100% recycled plastic.
BBJ: What’s next for Vodafone Hungary when it comes to environmental protection?
AO: Beyond the aforementioned group-level sustainability goals, the next step at Vodafone Hungary will be our move to the Budapest ONE office park, where sustainability has been at the heart of its construction. The office park meets the requirements of the WELL Building and BREEM Ecodesign building qualification systems. In addition, the new office building will be equipped with an intelligent and energy-efficient centralized management system, and the garage will be equipped with electric car chargers. All of this is fully in line with Vodafone’s sustainability goals. We are expected to move to the new building from October 2022.
BBJ: How does the Vodafone Foundation focus on environmental awareness?
AO: A category of the Vodafone Digital Award from the Vodafone Foundation is “Planet and Sustainability”, in which we recognize digital solutions that help save our planet and encourage as many societies as possible to participate in protecting the environment. Previously, we have awarded several solutions including an automatic underwater robot, a cotton boll digital worm trap system and an ecological footprint application, to name a few.
BBJ: Vodafone Hungary is one of the founders of Women in Technology Hungary. What should I know about the association?
AO: WiTH is a knowledge-sharing and networking community that creates dialogue among members of the organization and brings together women in the field of technology. The association was launched to highlight the achievements and successes of women in the sector, inspiring young people. We believe that the future is about equality and openness, so we must do everything possible in our field. I am also happy to announce that from October, any person, man or woman, can join the association.
BBJ: What is Vodafone doing to make the sector more attractive to women? How do you promote the STEM space for girls and women?
AO: WiTH Fits Vodafone’s Global Goal of Becoming the Best Place to Work for Women by 2025; thus, we are working to staff at least 40% of management positions in the company with women by 2030. The target set for 2025 is also supported by the #CodeLikeaGirl workshop for girls interested in IT, a comprehensive maternity leave policy, the ReConnect program helping reintegrate women returning to the labor market after a long absence, and Vodafone’s corporate guidelines on domestic violence.
This article first appeared in the print issue of the Budapest Business Journal on November 5, 2021.