Blog: Corporate Responsibility

As our fourth annual stand-alone Corporate Responsibility Report goes live, Millicom President and CEO Mauricio Ramos outlines where Millicom's focus lies, as well as the highlights, the challenges and the priorities that have made 2015 such a stand-out year. 

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31 March 2016: I am delighted to have taken the helm of the Company at such an exciting time. In its first 25 years, Millicom has had an incredible journey connecting the unconnected, today bringing the Digital Lifestyle to more than 60 million customers in 14 emerging markets across Latin America and Africa.

This year we have articulated a new vision to start the next quarter of a century: to enable people to advance in life and find joy. This vision speaks a lot about our passion and what we believe to be our purpose.

The products and services we provide touch many elements of daily life and can deliver positive social and environmental impacts. We provide critical and vital infrastructure ranging from access to basic fixed and mobile telephony to truly disruptive products, such as mobile financial services.

As we grow, connect and innovate, we want our growth to be responsible. Consequently, we take a holistic approach to ethical business and corporate responsibility. These are not add-on functions but at the heart of how we work.

Board director and senior management involvement and oversight are essential if we want to be the leaders in our markets in doing business the right way.

During 2015 the Government Relations and Corporate Responsibility (GRCR) Committee of the Board that oversees the delivery of our CR strategy and monitoring of emerging risks increased its scope and meeting frequency to once a quarter. Progress in our five Corporate Responsibility focus areas is assessed in each Executive Committee meeting.

We have established a Corporate Compliance Committee, including all Executive Committee members, that reviews progress relating to our anti-bribery and anti-corruption (ABAC) programme monthly, and other progress in our journey towards continuously improving business conduct practices.

Transparency is equally important to build trust in our ethical commitments and for us to be able to engage stakeholders to work together on challenges we cannot solve alone.

This year, Millicom was among one of two companies who ‘walk the talk’ in sustainability, according to a study conducted by the Stockholm School of Economics.

This is the way we want it to be. In October, we voluntarily reported to the US and Swedish authorities potential improper payments made on behalf of our joint venture in Guatemala.

During the year, we carried out extensive work to make our ABAC programme more robust and effective, including strengthening our policy framework and due diligence mechanisms, delivering training on our ABAC programme, and promoting Millicom Ethics Line.

We also commissioned an external review of the programme to assess if we can improve it even further.

Over the last year we have delivered a number of industry-leading CR initiatives that support the success of our core business strategy. We are on target with our five-year plan for CR and have completed much of the ground work relating to policies, risk and impact assessments, materiality analysis and process design.

The year to come will focus on further ensuring CR is fully integrated into everyday business.

Our people are our top priority. In 2015, we suffered 17 fatalities, one in our direct business operations and 16 among contractors who work closely with us. This is 17 too many.

It is essential that we invest in safer working conditions for everyone in our business and that everyone in the Company, regardless of their role, takes responsibility for ensuring each other’s safety. I have personally signed a commitment to zero fatalities.

We have also been working towards a more inclusive workplace. Study after study shows that companies with better gender balance in management outperform their competitors – because these are companies where everyone is able to thrive and give their best.

We can be proud of the progress we have made in increasing the number of women at senior levels; particularly in Africa where in two years we have progressed from 7% to 26% women in senior management. Keeping this trend up is a cornerstone in our people strategy for the years to come. 

2015 saw solid progress and some important milestones in our efforts to lead our industry in acting responsibly. Personally, I’m particularly proud of our work in child online protection. We want to ensure that both parents and children are empowered to take full benefit of the digital lifestyle with knowledge of how to stay safe.

Over the last 12 months, our industry-leading child online protection conferences brought together policy makers, law enforcement agencies, civil society and our peers in four of our markets to improve child online safety. We will continue these efforts in the coming year.

We have taken important steps to better understand our suppliers’ exposure to sustainability risks and to promote high levels of ethical conduct across our value chain. In 2015 the focus has been on increasing our understanding of where risks may lie. Integrating an approach of assessments, corrective action plans and audits has become even more important as we have outsourced some core functions, such as managed services in 2015.

Some of our markets have been particularly challenging in terms of security risks in 2015.

Balancing our desire to support governments in tackling organised crime and terrorism with the need for a framework to protect the data and freedom of expression of our customers, is a topic we have and will continue to closely monitor at Board level. 

Looking forward to 2016, our focus will remain on how we do things, as much as on what we do. Our priorities are to stay safe, develop diverse talent, be inclusive and act responsibly and ethically. I look forward to further embed these priorities in our way of doing business.

President and CEO, Millicom