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Corporate responsibility issues and our business

Corporate responsibility issues

As with every company in the communications industry, Bell faces a number of corporate responsibility issues, including environmental footprint, customer privacy, cyber attacks, supply chain management and e-waste. These and many other matters also touch organizations in our supply chain (see Our Value Chain). This report explores the risks and opportunities associated with these areas and details how Bell is addressing each of them.

Corporate responsibility trends in our industry

Various corporate responsibility issues move in and out of stakeholder focus over time as trends and priorities change. In recent years, stakeholders have identified the following as the issues most relevant to them and our company.


Energy consumption

Always a notable component of our business service solutions, energy consumption is becoming an even broader issue as more people use smartphones and tablets that consume rapidly growing amounts of data to access social networking, cloud computing, mobile TV, mobile commerce and banking services. Each of these services consumes network energy, thereby increasing Bell’s carbon footprint. Adding to the demand is the emergence of other M2M (machine-to-machine) applications in retail and advances in transportation such as the connected car, asset tracking and remote monitoring. In 2015, the last full year for which data are available, more Canadian households were exclusively wireless (23.7%) than were exclusively wireline (13.6%)1. The consequent growth in wireless data consumption drives up Bell’s need for energy to power our networks, making energy efficiency an important issue for our entire industry.

We are also affected by the growing trend for companies to use data centres to shift applications and services to the cloud. This enables carriers like Bell to make more tools and professional services available to business customers while maximizing the efficiency of our networks and business operations. In time, this virtualization will involve both fixed and wireless access network elements as more functions will move from the customers’ premises to centralized, carrier-operated facilities. As a result, carriers will consume more energy while their customers will see their energy consumption decrease. The net effect will be to reduce overall consumption as virtual activity replaces physical activity and larger carrier-operated platforms become more efficient.

Importance of the business model

A company’s business model directly impacts the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) it generates and how those gases are calculated and classified. In general, the more vertically integrated the company, the greater the potential for GHG generation by that company.

Bell is a case in point. To deliver quality service to our customers, maintain direct control over operations, and promote business continuity that provides secure employment and career development potential, we have vertically reintegrated many of the functions that are often outsourced by other companies in our industry.

For example, our operations include installation technicians (Bell Technical Services (BTS)) and many construction projects (Expertech Network Installation Inc. (Expertech)) that depend on a fleet of vehicles to take team members to our customers and job sites. These activities increase our Scope 1 GHGs (direct GHG emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by Bell) relative to other telcos that outsource such functions.

Also, we have become more diversified in our effort to facilitate sustainable growth in the business. For example, we created Bell Media Inc. (Bell Media) after acquiring broadcast and other media companies such as CTV Globemedia Inc. and Astral Media Inc. This has increased our overall consumption of energy that we account for in our Scope 2 emissions (indirect GHG emissions associated with the consumption of purchased electricity, heat, steam and cooling). That said, it does not necessarily mean Scope 2 emissions have increased since Bell Media assets were separate, non-BCE operations.

Our integrated structure also affects the waste we generate. In contrast to other telecommunications companies, Bell has integrated production, installation, and construction functions. This means that we are accountable for managing waste created through these functions, unlike companies that outsource these operations. We could outsource, and thereby reduce, our waste-to-landfill quantity, but that would not necessarily improve overall waste sent to landfill. As well, by managing our network waste ourselves, we maintain control over functions that directly impact customer service and operations.

Information security and privacy

As devices connected to the Internet become smarter, and as data-transmission volumes increase, there is greater risk of security breaches. Bell seeks to deliver the highest levels of information security through the protection and effective organization of systems, applications and information repositories. This is vital to the secure operation of our networks and business and critically important to our customers who, along with our team members, rightly expect that we protect their identities and information.

Electronic waste (e-waste)

Marketplace experience is conforming that, as faster and smarter devices are developed, customers need and want to replace devices more often. That creates more waste. Bell makes every effort to recover unwanted equipment, even from our competitors’ customers. This is an important objective, given that all electronic components, such as cathode ray tubes, may contain environmental contaminants including lead, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants that generate significant risks for workers and communities involved in the recycling and disposal of e-waste. We also take great care to avoid leaks of hazardous materials from landfills and incinerator ashes. As a reseller of electronic products, Bell also takes proactive steps to help consumers properly dispose of their unwanted items.

Supply chain

We rigorously monitor and manage supply-chain issues. This is especially important because we do not manufacture any of the business services solutions products we offer customers. We work with a limited number of manufacturers, some of which dominate the global market. That means we must remain vigilant in our supply-chain management because some of these suppliers operate in countries cited for human rights and environmental violations, especially as related to rare earth minerals such as gold and tin.

1 According to research done by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC):

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