Listening Your Way to a Great Result
Like most large companies, Vodafone runs a supplier performance programme. Twice a year, Vodafone evaluates its suppliers against these criteria: Corporate responsibility (CR), financial stability, technical capability, delivery and quality of service as well as the strength of the commercial relationship. OK, granted the last one’s a bit…subjective perhaps, but I think this is a good, broad set of criteria. I first became aware of the programme after reading a press release about the CR measure. I was delighted that Vodafone were looking into this area, because I am personally interested in sustainable business and the company I was representing; BT, is a good CR practitioner. When I dug a little deeper, I found that Vodafone scored BT at 71%, 7 out of 10. Not bad, but not great either.
Being a curious person, I called up the Head of Supply Chain and he agreed to meet and talk through their programme. The guys at Vodafone were great. Honest and straightforward, they really conveyed a sense of wanting to work together to improve. This wasn’t a huge surprise to me as I’d previously carried out some very interesting mutually beneficial improvement work with Vodafone, but it’s still great to get that encouraging approach.
We listened actively and worked hard to address Vodafone’s programme requirements. When I say we, this work was delivered in the main by me and a great guy in BT called Mick Bruder. Over a 12 month period we supported Vodafone’s programme and improved the CR score to 90%. Vodafone considers a score of 90% and above to be excellent. In turn, this improvement fed into the wider programme and pushed BT into the top 15 global suppliers to Vodafone for the first time. I’d settle for excellent.
When I was subsequently asked to write the Stakeholder Engagement section of BT’s Sustainability report, I asked Vodafone if they would consider being referenced as a case study. They agreed. This delighted me, made me feel proud of the work we were doing together and really helped to cement this great working relationship.
So the next time someone asks you about the business benefits of sustainability, why not show them this story?