The year 2020 was unlike any in our lifetimes. The global pandemic created a generation-defining experience forcing us to press pause on our lives and the routines we know, devastating millions, with community after community coming together for those in need.
Yet through this uncertainty, 2020 gave us insights and renewed our commitment to critical imperatives, from protecting human health, to ensuring that justice, equity and fair treatment extend to everyone, to staying connected to each other and to our world.
Our connected purpose
Liberty Global has long been a champion of these issues, but I am incredibly proud of what we achieved when people needed us most. Anchored by our purpose – Tomorrow’s Connections Today – our superior broadband, video and mobile networks served as essential lifelines for customers, businesses and communities. They more than stood up to the challenge of massive shifts in demand so that people could continue to learn, work, stay entertained and reach loved ones in the most critical moments.
Focus on diversity, equity and inclusion
At the same time, we significantly accelerated our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) and amplified our focus on educating and empowering our people, and strengthening a culture of belonging where everyone can bring their true selves to work. And we were stewards for the environment; reducing waste and carbon emissions, launching our greenest-ever set-top-box, and being recognised as a sustainability leader.
Building national fixed-mobile connectivity champions
We also had a landmark year as we continued to transform the telecoms landscape, by creating national fixed-mobile connectivity champions. Through our 50/50 joint venture between Virgin Media and O2 in the UK, and our acquisition of Sunrise in Switzerland, we now enable 85 million fixed and
mobile subscribers to not just participate but thrive in our rapidly evolving world.
Our Connected Purpose enabled us to create substantial economic, social and environmental impact, and I am pleased to share a few highlights of what we achieved in 2020.
First, at Liberty Global, we believe the connections we are building today are helping to create a better tomorrow. When Covid-19 emerged, stay-at-home measures increased broadband traffic by 75% in 2020. While our gigabit networks more than met this demand, we focused to ensure our broadband was not just next- generation fast, but accessible, reliable, and achievable for vulnerable communities within our markets. By the end of 2020, 96% of our networks enabled access to 1Gbps speeds. And our Essential Broadband programs offered affordable connectivity and devices.
We also worked to help our own people through the challenges of Covid-19, establishing a $4 million Employee Response program, funded by our executive team, Board of Directors and through a corporate match, to assist those disproportionately affected by the crisis.
In 2020, we meaningfully intensified our DE&I ambitions to ensure progress was embedded into everything we do – from our policies, to our marketing, to the products we design. We established five diversity priorities across Gender, LGBTQIA+, Ability (including neurodiversity), Race and Ethnicity, and Multigenerational, guided by a dedicated DE&I Council of 17 senior leaders from across our footprint, which I co-chair along with our Chief Diversity Officer. The Council works to ensure we are creating sustainable, positive, cultural change – transparently and authentically.
Protecting the environment was also front and center. In 2020, we were awarded an A-rating by CDP Global, receiving commendation for performance on energy consumption and carbon emissions. For the eighth year, we were recognised by the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, landing
in the 97th percentile. And we were proud to be among the first 500 companies worldwide to develop approved Science-based Targets to reduce carbon emissions in alignment with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Our Dutch subsidiary VodafoneZiggo launched the company’s first-ever Green Bond, which will be used to finance projects that support low-carbon, climate-resilient growth. Last year also saw the introduction of our Mini TV 4K, designed by Liberty Global engineers to deliver a world-class viewing experience while reducing energy consumption by 77% and utilising 35% recycled plastics.
And despite the pandemic, we made sure that the great ideas of young people had a chance to shine. Participation in the 9th annual Coolest Projects technology fair grew 50% last year our 2020 SteamCup Challenge included more than 400 young coders who virtually displayed their Smart City inventions.
And our Future Makers, ThinkBIG and ThinkSocial initiatives continued to celebrate the enthusiasm and creativity of upcoming innovators.
I will look back on 2020 as a year dominated by tragedy, uncertainty and fear, but also a period characterised by empathy, perseverance, agility and unity. We are dedicated to our overarching goal of delivering reliable, outstanding connectivity and entertainment services for our customers and their communities – responsibly and sustainably. Watch where we go from here.
Read the full report here.