Bt Case Study

BT is one of the world’s leading communications services companies, delivering fixed-line, broadband, networked IT, mobile and TV products and services to businesses and consumers in the UK and more than 170 countries worldwide.

From systems that manage the energy use in buildings to video conferencing that helps reduce the need for air travel, communication technology can be used to reduce the pressure on resources and cut carbon emissions.

Net Good: Sustainability leadership

Working in partnership with the Carbon Trust, BT has:

  • Measured the full life-cycle carbon emissions of three flagship consumer products: BT Home Hub, BT DECT Digital cordless phone and BT Vision set-top box
  • Undertaken an extensive supplier engagement programme involving a number of workshops
  • Developed a climate change procurement standard that applies to all of BT’s suppliers, encouraging suppliers to use energy efficiently and reduce carbon during the production, delivery, use and disposal of products and services
  • Collaborated with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol ICT sector guidance initiative to forge global agreement on a consistent approach to assessing the lifecycle GHG impacts of ICT products and services, and used this approach to understand the full life-cycle footprint of the communication services for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Reducing impacts

BT is one of only a handful of companies globally to have measured and reported its full GHG Protocol Scope 3 emissions against all 15 categories that detail emissions both upstream (e.g. from purchased inputs) and downstream (e.g. distribution to the point of sale).  Measuring full life-cycle carbon emissions in three of its flagship consumer products has informed BT and helped the company reduce impacts in successive models. For example, the BT Home Hub 5 has VDSL capability integrated into the unit avoiding the need for a separate modem, dual wireless technology improving short range transmission, and intelligent power management technology including a power save mode when not in use. Altogether these changes are expected to reduce power consumption by 30%, saving 13,000tCO2/year.

BT has also:

  • Created Designing Our Tomorrow, a framework of sustainable design principles to bring the benefits of responsible and sustainable business practice into commercial and customer experience processes; and
  • Launched the Better Future Supplier Forum to drive energy efficiency and carbon reduction in the supply chain

Investment in the future

BT’s focus on being a responsible and sustainable business leader has seen a 44% reduction in operational emissions and a 15% reduction in supply chain emissions, along with a 40% reduction in waste to landfill since 2011. At the same time, BT has decreased operating costs by 14% and boosted EBITDA by 6% - building a strong investment in the company’s future and that of the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Read more about our work with BT and other leading companies in our report: Opportunities in a resource constrained world: How business is rising to the challenge


Gender equality is a priority across BT, but our employee data shows female representation is particularly acute in our Technology business (TSO). Targeted recruitment programmes are in place to increase supply, but the marketplace for senior technical roles is male-dominated.

As a result, we are focusing on developing a stronger pipeline of female employees and improving retention of senior women by launching #womenintechnology, which is a female development and role modelling programme. Our long term aim is to make a positive impact on workforce composition. We are already seeing increased levels of engagement among female managers in TSO.

Issue to be resolved

Analysis of our diversity profile and succession plans shows that we don’t have sufficient women in senior positions in TSO and the pipeline of high potential women is not as robust as we need.

Action taken

We ensured senior sponsorship and buy-in. The programme is sponsored by the TSO CEO; the leadership team are visibly engaged. A clear programme of communications was developed – underpinning BT’s commitment to being a meritocracy, but using data to illustrate more women needed to get to the starting line. The focus was on BT’s three core diversity benefits: Customer; Talent; Innovation.

We approached women in TSO flagged as high potential and asked them to apply to #womenintechnology. We positioned it as a development programme and emblematic of our commitment to driving wider culture change.

Quarterly events were set up with external speakers, on a range of subjects from gravitas in the workplace, to how to engage with colleagues in an all-male environment. The events ranged in size from 150 people to smaller, more specific events for 12 people. Each of these events was sponsored by a senior TSO leader. We also held Inclusive Leadership training session for top 80 managers in TSO to raise awareness of the biases that might hinder women’s progression, and give them the chance to pledge their support.


Demonstrating our commitment to this programme, the most recent external hire to our executive team has been a woman. We are reviewing our recruitment criteria to attract a more diverse range of female candidates. We are using the programme to drive a culture change; encouraging the women in Phase 1 of this programme to go out to graduate fairs and speak about their experiences, for example – and to share their experiences with women in other parts of BT. We are also extending the programme to colleagues in India.

Next Steps

The women who took part in the first phase of the programme are about to “graduate”. We are discussing how we continue to support them while reaching out to other women across the business. Questions we are asking are:

  • What does this support look like?
  • Should it simply be that Year 1 participants meet less often and we rely on them to keep in touch with each other?
  • Or should we extend the programme year on year to more high potential candidates?

Our Women in Technology programme has had a significant impact: senior leaders regularly discuss the question about the number of women in senior roles at leadership team meetings and between senior leaders outside of these meetings.

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