Sustainability, stakeholders and profits
A BT case study

Page 2: BT, connectivity, and sustainable development

BT is one of the UK's best known companies. It operates globally and looks to provide effective communication, irrespective of geography, distance, time or complexity.

In 2003, BT won the Queen's Award for Enterprise, in recognition of the substantial improvement in its business performance resulting from continuous achievement in sustainable development. Also, for the third year running, BT was ranked as the top telecommunications company in the Dow Jones World Sustainability Index.

Connectivity lies at the heart of the modern global economy and BT's work involves bringing together people and organisations, enabling them to share information, images, ideas, and entertainment through a fast, efficient network.

At one level, connectivity is a means of helping families to keep in touch with each other on a regular basis. At another, it provides businesses and individuals with the latest information e.g. news about world events; detailed help, support and advice; research findings; business and technical data.

BT's principles are illustrated by its approach to digital inclusion. In the UK, people who can access the internet (the 'haves') have a big advantage over those who cannot (the 'have nots'). BT is looking to end this particular isolation of the 'have nots'.

As part of promoting social inclusion, the UK government has made Internet access for every UK citizen a top priority. It intends to achieve this by 2005.

BT believes that access to information and communications technologyimproves people's lives e.g. by opening doors to education, employment, entertainment and social contact. BT therefore carries out a range of activities to promote digital inclusion and to spread the benefits of its technology as widely as possible.

Achieving this goal requires:

  • appropriate technology - access to communications technology
  • consumers with appropriate skills - the ability of groups and individuals to use technology
  • valuable programme content - the type of communication and the way it is used for social and economic benefit.

These can be restated as:

  • connectivity
  • capability
  • content.

The company builds digital inclusion through providing Internet access for individuals and small businesses.  BT sees broadband as being vital to social inclusion and plans to make broadband available to 100s of homes and small businesses during 2005. It has a range of projects specifically targeted at including less privileged sectors of the community. For example:

  • Community Broadband brings high-speed broadband technology to small local communities.
  • In partnership with the charity Citizens Online, BT has established a programme initially working in four pilot sites in under-privileged areas where Internet use is low and deprivation high. Known as 'everybodyonline', the project concentrates on groups who are marginalised or excluded for reasons of age, gender, ethnic background, disability, previous educational opportunity and employment status.

Developing broadband is also important in helping the government reach its objective of reducing UK road congestion. If the Telework Association's estimate that 15% of the UK workforce will become teleworkers by 2006 is accurate, this will result in a 10% reduction in work-related miles driven. Similarly, by supporting a better online shopping experience, broadband could produce an estimated 10% fall in shopping miles, leading to fewer carbon dioxide emissions and reduced road congestion.

BT | Sustainability, stakeholders and profits

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