Embedding Sustainability

Bharti Airtel strongly believes that power of communication can bring in multi-dimensional transformations, ensuring smooth functioning of life and businesses, and helping society to become sustainable and inclusive. Hence, Airtel devoted its core competence, technological solutions and innovations to “enriching lives” by catering to the emerging needs of millions in countries like Asia and Africa.

 

Back in year 2011, Airtel made social inclusion as the cornerstone of our sustainability programme to ensure that more and more people get included in the benefits of a sustainable and enriched life. Today, a comprehensive and structured ‘Sustainability Plan’ is in place that defines our corporate citizenship and how we aspire to act in the world. It is our endeavor to use our business for the larger good, and catalyze change in the community so that everyone we touch can endure and thrive.

As the stakeholders have played a crucial role in its sustained success over the years, Airtel’s sustainability approach has been carefully developed through systematic engagement with stakeholders worldwide. The Company continuously strives to provide long-term sustainable value to all our stakeholders including investors, customers, employees, business partners and suppliers, Government and regulators and communities. This is performed through systematic stakeholder dialogue to gauge their expectations, share information and sustainability priorities, practices and performance and explore avenues of partnerships to achieve the goals

 
Stakeholder's expectations
Business Partners - IBM and Infosys

Faster financial Inclusion

Invest in green IT

Reduce fuel consumption

Continue the rural drive towards social inclusion

Network Partners - Infratel and Indus

Enhance network capability

Stimulate digital inclusion

Focus on alternate source of energy

Adopt green technologies

Financial service providers

Contribute to healthcare, education, financial services and agriculture

Reduce fuel consumption

Quantify long term social development initiative

Focus on network quality and expanding

NGOs and Bharti Foundation

Enable social and digital inclusion via community participation

Maintain affordability for larger section of the society

Contribute toward quality education

Energy and Climate change

Employees and top management

Assess impact on communities

Stimulate employee engagement

Digital inclusion

Effective customer service

Energy and waste management

Regulatory and Government bodies

Increase focus on financial inclusion

Contribute and take mobile health and education to a new level

Compliance to radiation norms and green telecom

Customers

Increase network coverage

Improve customer services

Entertainment and value added services

The four material issues that Airtel focuses on emerged basis those that were most important to stakeholders, best aligned with the business and on which Airtel operations had significant impact. In order to address these issues through its governance structure, Airtel has formulated policies and management approaches around each issue. Every material issue is governed by a member of the company's Management Board.

We, at Bharti Airtel, strongly believe that power of communication can bring in multi-dimensional transformations, ensuring smooth functioning of life and businesses, and help society to become sustainable and inclusive. Hence, Airtel has devoted its core competence, technological solutions and innovations to “enriching lives” by catering to the emerging needs of millions in countries like Asia and Africa.

 

We recognize our role in promoting sustainable development through the way we conduct our business by integrating sustainability in our strategies and operations. Our Vision defines what we aim to do, whereas our Core Values - Alive, Inclusive and Respectful - expound how we aim to embrace the responsible business practices.

 

Every two years, Airtel conducts a materiality assessment in accordance with GRI Standards and guided by Account Ability’s AA1000 Principles Standard (2018). In 2017, we at Airtel revalidated our material topics through a detailed stakeholder engagement to evaluate the key expectations of our stakeholders, as well as the risks identified through our risk management process. Materiality was considered in the context of global trends, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and our overall corporate strategy. While this aided the revision of our Sustainability strategy, it also enabled further engagement with stakeholders, review of industry best practices, benchmarking of our own performance and an evaluation of risks and opportunities.

 

We conduct a detailed stakeholder survey to identify the material issues. The identified material issues were then prioritized based on topics of relevance to our stakeholders as well as to the management, which are listed below:

 

Material Topics

  • Enhancing Customer Experience and Satisfaction
  • Climate change and Carbon emissions of telecom infrastructure
  • Sustainable Community Development
  • Enhancing Network quality (reliability and availability)
  • Product and service quality
  • Digitization and innovative service offerings
  • Customer Data protection and Security
  • Ethical and transparent business transactions
  • Resource optimization and waste management
  • High Standards of Corporate Governance
  • Improving Employee engagement and Development
  • Digital inclusion and access
  • Collaborative long term supplier/ partner relationships

The identified material topics and details of our interventions in each area are detailed in our annual Integrated Report as well as on our website.

Airtel ensures compliance to the highest standards of corporate governance through numerous policies, guidelines and standards. The company adheres to the highest levels of ethical and transparent business practices as articulated by the "Bharti Code of Conduct" which covers ethics, bribery, corruption and human rights. This embraces all employees, suppliers and contractors, service providers, channel partners and their employees.

 

To facilitate an effective implementation of our Code of Conduct, we have an Ombudsman process which allows employee, contractors and vendors, to raise a grievance or complaint without any fear of reprisal. A formal process is undertaken to review and investigate any concern and take appropriate action in accordance with the Consequence Management Policy. All employees have to annually reaffirm their compliance to the code of conduct, and this compliance is strictly monitored. The instances of such misconduct are periodically reported to the Audit Committee. During 2018-19, 22 allegations of corruption and bribery were received and investigations were completed in 11 cases. The remaining 11 cases are under various stages of investigation. Allegations were substantiated in 2 cases and the employees were terminated. No cases were filed against the company before the Competition Commission of India for anti-competitive behavior or are pending resolution as on March 31st, 2019. No incidences of child labour, forced labour or discrimination were reported in FY 2018-19. 23 cases of sexual harassment were reported out of which allegations were substantiated in 19 cases. The accused personnel were either provided counselling, a written warning or released from their services.

 

Other Airtel policies have evolved in order to effectively engage with the community to maximize positive impact, e.g. the CSR policy, the Employee Philanthropy Policy etc. To ensure the health and safety of the community at large, Airtel also ensures that it is aligned with national and international guidelines on EMF. Airtel has an Information and Security Policy to ensure the privacy of customer information. To know about our systems and procedures to ensure information security and customer privacy Click Here

 

Airtel believes that risk management and internal control are fundamental to effective corporate governance and the development of a sustainable business. It has a robust process to identify key risks across the group and prioritize relevant action plans that can mitigate these risks.

 

The Airtel brand essence of enriching lives embeds sustainability into its mainstream business agenda. A robust system of governance is in place and stakeholders help derive material issues to work towards. Compliance is ensured through numerous policies, guidelines and standards. These are the foundation on which the Airtel sustainability and governance agenda is built.

Governance Structure

The Board of Directors (‘the Board’) represents the core of our Corporate Governance practices and oversees how the management serves in the best interests of our widening fraternity of stakeholders across the world. The CSR Committee of the Board reviews the Company’s Business Responsibility performance twice a year. The Committee supervises and supports the Company’s corporate social responsibilities and share growth management activities.

 

The CSR committee is supported by the Airtel Management Board (AMB) lead by the CEO who is also a member of the CSR Committee. AMB oversees the performance and provides a strategic approach to the Company’s Sustainability & CSR initiatives. The AMB is supported by a cross-functional Core Sustainability Group, whose role is to put the sustainability framework in motion by driving implementation of strategy and policy across Airtel. This group comprises of nominees from across all functions and is led by a dedicated Sustainability Officer.

 
SDG

Our Approach

Our Initiatives

Goal 3: Good Health & Well-being

Airtel views any potential health and safety risk to its stakeholders very seriously and actively promotes the good health and well-being of its employees, business partners and the broader community.

We provide a safe working environment to our employees, and take concrete measures to promote good health, such as through wellness drives, on-site doctor, health risk assessments, stress management trainings and gym facilities. Regular safety trainings are provided to employees in order to ensure avoidance of hazards. Cautious action is taken to ensure that our offices function as havens of efficiency and high workforce productivity, through maintaining an ergonomic design, optimum levels of indoor air quality, noise, temperature and humidity. Our office design facilitates comfort, convenience and collaboration among the employees, and is suitable to the needs of all.

Goal 4: Quality Education

Airtel has adopted a significant role in enabling the progress, development and inclusion of the vulnerable sections of the community where it operates, through provision of quality education. We believe that education is the foundation for eradication of poverty, and hence view it as an essential component for fulfilling our corporate social responsibility.

Bharti Airtel has committed itself towards sustainable development through actively engaging with the communities it operates in. Our philanthropic efforts, employee volunteerism, and local community outreach initiatives support the desire to be seen as a trusted partner - one that honours its commitments and takes pride in the role it plays in community wellness. It is determined to create a deep- rooted, positive impact on society at large. Therefore, it proactively applies its competence and partnerships to promote development initiatives through initiatives undertaken by Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, and its own telecom circles at the regional level.
Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Airtel Limited, is actively contributing to SDG 4 by providing free quality education to underprivileged children across rural India. The program envisions to transform students into educated, confident, responsible and self-reliant employable citizens of the country with a deep sense of commitment to their society. Exploring innovative solutions through its primary and senior secondary schools, these programs are implemented with the intent to arrive at replicable and scalable components of quality education, which may be adapted by the Government and other like-minded organizations.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Respecting diversity is one of the core values with which Airtel conducts itself. It not just respects but promotes diversity of gender, ethnicity, race and nationality, in order to build a truly inclusive organization.

Airtel respects diversity and encourages the same through its culture. Female employees are well represented across all levels of the organization. Our program ‘We Women’ aims to empower women and promote gender equality through various initiative such as ‘We Mentorship’-a focused mentoring program for women; ‘We Achieve’-recognition of impactful contributions by female employees, and ‘We Sense’-organization of gender sensitization workshops to promote a mindset of diversity and inclusion.
Through Bharti Foundation, Airtel is initiating a wave of social transformation by providing a platform for free education of girls, in regions where cultural norms coupled with poor economic conditions, prevent families from sending female children to school. These programs also lay special focus on recruiting female teachers for schools started by Bharti Foundation. As a part of its sanitation program, Bharti Foundation is also constructing girls’ toilets in government schools, to reduce female dropout rate and increase female attendance, at schools.

Goal 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

Airtel is committed to adopt clean energy and is in constant efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, increase its share of renewable energy, and thus reduce its ecological footprint.

We are taking proactive steps to increase the share of renewables in our energy mix, in order to reduce our ecological footprint. From installation of rooftop solar panels at our main switching centers to procurement of energy through power wheeling agreements, we have been able to save 73000 tons of CO2 annually.

Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth

Airtel is committed to create the most conducive workplace for its employees to grow and develop, ensuring equal opportunity and ethical conduct.

We employ around 20,000 people globally and have consciously adopted a policy of equal opportunity for all people related activities, be it recruitment, selection, career planning, or growth. Our network reaches to the remotest pockets of India, where the rural population suffers from poverty and lack of opportunities. Airtel takes special measures to employ the local youth at these sites and help them attain sustainable livelihoods. Through a sustainable supply chain management program, we ensure the adherence to human rights and labor laws amongst our vendors as well.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

Airtel is in continuous momentum to innovate and come up with new products and services, to give an enhanced experience to its customers, and find creative solutions to social problems.

Innovation runs at the heart of Airtel. Leveraging latest technologies, strong R&D, and effective collaborations, Airtel comes up with innovative products and services each year to create an advanced way of living, for its customers. Some of our measures include. From enabling our customers through digitization and self-care, facilitating convenience through digital stores, we are striving to innovate in every aspect of our operations. Apart from telecom, we also provide innovative technology solutions to address the need for basic life services such as health, education, financial inclusion and agriculture.

We are in a continual process to strengthen our infrastructure, i.e. network infrastructure, through modernization and expansion, in order to provide the best quality service. We also indulge in passive infrastructure sharing, in order to optimize resource consumption and reduce our environmental impact.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

Airtel is committed to transition towards circular economy through reduction of waste and resource optimization at all stages of its operations.

Airtel has declared War on Waste and is taking concrete steps to reduce our resource consumption and transition to a more sustainable production. Measures include recycling of paper and E-waste, introduction of E-bills, take back & refurbishing of DTH set top boxes, shift to green mobile tower technologies that consume less power, green network Infrastructure , tower sharing to save resources like steel, cement, concrete, zinc and land.  We are also striving to increase the share of renewable energy in our total energy mix.

Goal 13: Climate Action

Airtel is proactively contributing to the global climate change movement, through measurement and reduction of its ecological footprint across the value chain, including business operations, supply chain and delivery of services.

Airtel understands its responsibility to consistently evaluate the impact of its services, operations and infrastructure on the environment. The Company acknowledges the need for constant assessment of its overall influence on energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We undertake a plethora of measures to increase our energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, such as installation of solar panels, alternating diesel battery hybrid mode which helps to reduce diesel consumption, green power wheeling agreement for procurement of green energy, switching off ACs and utilizing natural solar cooling to reduce energy demand at own & partner sites, intelligent shutdown technology which switches off equipment during non-peak hours, cold aisle containment that uses a physical barrier to reduce the mixing of cold air and hot exhaust air in data center aisles.