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Sustainability and Equality: How can a Telco Contribute?

Sustainability

Anita Orbán

Sustainability and gender equality are among the most pressing issues of the 21st century. To make progress in these areas, economic actors, including large companies, must take a lead. In recent years, Vodafone Hungary has initiated many measures to reduce its carbon footprint, while gender equality has long been a strategic goal. The Budapest Business Journal spoke with Anita Orbán, Vodafone Hungary’s external affairs director, about the company’s future plans.

BBJ: The latest example of Vodafone’s environmental commitment was the addition of more than 100 hybrid autos. What percentage of the corporate fleet operates on fossil fuels, and when will they be replaced? When will the fleet become solely electric?

Anita Orbán: Beyond the group-level environmental objectives, we also take local commitments seriously. From 2025, the company’s entire fleet of cars, more than 400 vehicles, will be purely electric. For starters, 106 Škoda Octavia IV plug-in hybrid cars were acquired in September. Although less than a month has passed since then, the results speak for themselves. The first month resulted in 93 kg CO2 savings; our colleagues filled their cars more than 400 times and traveled 12,423 km “electrically.” Sixty more environmentally conscious vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and pure electric autos, will become part of our fleet by 2022.

BBJ: Last October, Vodafone Hungary said it became the first company in the country to run on 100% renewable energy. (Since June this year, all Vodafone subsidiaries in all European countries have done so.) Can you tell us about this?

AO: Our parent company announced last summer that it would operate its European network on renewable energy by July 2021 at the latest, creating a green network that can continue to grow sustainably. Vodafone Hungary was the first to complete this commitment. We are proud that our customers have been using wind- and water-based services since October 2020. This was of crucial importance, as it was a massive step towards Vodafone Group’s 2030 commitment to reduce its carbon footprint to net zero and extend it to its entire supplier and partner network by 2040. We are also very proud that Vodafone is one of more than 500 companies whose objectives in reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative.

BBJ: You have altered the design of your SIM cards. Why was this, and how has it been received?

AO: We have always considered it very important to include our clients 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 the SIM card holders saving nearly two tonnes of plastic annually. After that, in August 2021, we made a plastic-free eSIM available to our customers. Furthermore, we have announced in recent weeks that, for non-eSIM compatible devices, we will provide a 100% recycled plastic ecoSIM for our customers.

BBJ: What is the next step at Vodafone Hungary regarding environmental protection?

AO: Above the aforementioned group-level sustainability goals, the next milestone at Vodafone Hungary will be our relocation to the Budapest ONE office park, where sustainability has been core to 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 a power-saving, intelligent central building management system, and the garage will have electric car chargers. All of this is perfectly in line with Vodafone’s sustainability goals. We are expected to move to the new building from October 2022.

BBJ: How does Vodafone Foundation emphasize environmental awareness?

AO: A category of Vodafone Foundation’s Vodafone Digital Award is “Planet and Sustainability,” in which we award digital solutions that help save our planet and encourage as much of society as possible to participate in environmental protection. Formerly, we have awarded several solutions, including an automatic underwater robot, a digital cotton bollworm trap system, and an ecological footprint application, just to mention a few.

BBJ: Vodafone Hungary is one of the founders of Women in Technology Hungary. What should we know about the association?

AO: WiTH is a knowledge-sharing and networking community that creates a dialogue among organization members and brings together women in technology. The association was launched to highlight the achievements and successes of women in the sector, providing inspiration to youngsters. We believe the future is about equality and openness, so we must do everything we can within our field. I am also happy to announce that, from October, anyone, male or female, can join the association.

BBJ: What is Vodafone doing to make the sector more appealing to women? How do you promote the STEM area for girls and women?

AO: WiTH ties in with Vodafone’s global goal to become the best workplace for women by 2025; hence, we are working to fill at least 40% of management positions in the company with women by 2030. The objective set out to 2025 is also supported by the #CodeLikeaGirl workshop for girls interested in computer technology, a global policy on maternity leave, the ReConnect program helping to reintegrate women returning to the labor market after a long absence, and Vodafone’s company guidelines on domestic violence.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of November 5, 2021.

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