Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Vodafone has won Best Report in the CRRA '10 Reporting Awards for the third consecutive year. Since 2004, Vodafone has been using their signature format "We have, We Said, We Will", is a powerful approach which stands the test of time and clearly attracts and interests stakeholders. In this post, I pay a tribute to Vodafone for maintaining leadership in sustainability, transparency and world class reporting. Anyone who has ever read a Vodafone report , or even part of one, will know, as I do, that they really do produce exceptional reports, both on a global level and in many individual locations - – you can check out Vodafone Australia , or Vodafone Albania, or many others. Vodafone locals produced 11 reports in fiscal year 2008/2009. These are not just translations of the global report. They are genuine reporting efforts tailored to the needs of local stakeholders. Not only are their reports designed with clarity and flair, the Vodafone online Corporate Responsibility site is a pleasure to navigate.

Vodafone's winning reports over the past few years:

Year Ending March 2009 – CRRA 10, Best Report, Best Report for Relevance and Materiality, Second Runner Up for Best Credibility and Assurance
Year Ending March 2008 – CRRA ' 08, Best Report, Best Report for Relevance and Materiality, Best Report for Credibility and Assurance
Year Ending March 2007 – CRRA '07 , Best Report, 9th place in Best Relevance and Materiality, 7th place in Best Openness and Honesty, GRI Readers Choice Awards 2008, Honorable Mention.
Year Ending March 2006 – ACCA UK Best Report
Vodafone Espana  CSR Report 2006-2007 – GRI Readers Choice Awards, 2008, Honorable Mention
Vodafone Malta  Corporate Responsibility Report as at 31 March 2006 -  CRRA '07, 4th place in Best First Time Report category.

 The Vodafone Report for the year ended March 2009 won by a clear margin of around 100 votes. (I think one of them was mine!) This is their ninth annual Corporate Responsibility Report and is called "Mobilising Development", which, if you think about it, is a nice play on words. The report is an interactive PDF with a tabbed page navigation system, and icon hyperlinks within the report which makes navigating the PDF a dream. Other links also lead to the web pages. The issues are stated up front and the stakeholder engagement discussion is nicely detailed . There is even a list of issues raised by investors, with climate change and Base of Pyramid Initiatives being top of the list by a long margin, and a clear Materiality Matrix, something which only the best of reporters include. Increasing access to communications is Vodafone's top material issue representing both a significant business opportunity and a source of socio-economic value. This is described in Vodafone's now almost trademarked way, and the "we said have and will" sections accordingly completed. One example here is the commitment to offer a phone option for the visually impaired, hearing impaired and elderly customers in every market that Vodafone operates in by March 2011. The nice addition in this report, in response to stakeholder feedback, is the inclusion of an entire section on Vodafone's new Indian business. The assurance statement is well detailed and does a good job.

 I think the thing that most stands out about Vodafone's reporting style is that the language is crisp, relevant and lacks frills. Vodafone says what they mean to say. They don’t waste lines of their report with generic platitudes, but every sentence packs a punch. It's only 60 pages, but each one counts. Quotes from experts, and their photos add a measure of colour and credibility to the report.

All in all, I concur with the masses of Corporate Register voters that Vodafone's report is outstanding and a model for many Companies. Clearly, reporting is a reflection of the business, and it does seem that reporting at Vodafone reflects a core approach of sustainability, which is present in all business decisions. The only question remains, which is, can Vodafone maintain this quality and leadership in reporting? CRRA 2011 will reveal all!

elaine cohen is the CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting firm. Visit our website at

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