Stakeholder relations

Blue Label’s stakeholder engagement supports our efforts to be a successful, stable, and ethical company contributing to the economic growth of the communities in which we operate.

As a business embedded in emerging markets and embracing a growing ecosystem, the impact of our operations extends beyond our commercial partners, customers, and employees. Providers of capital, communities, the media, government, and non-governmental organisations may each have differing viewpoints and expectations of our business. We recognise that we depend on robust relationships with all our stakeholders to grow our business and provide value to individuals, families, businesses, and society. Working with our stakeholders is particularly important while we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principles that underpin our stakeholder relations

  • Collaboration and regular interaction with all key stakeholder groups are essential to the Group’s long-term resilience.
  • Successful stakeholder engagement requires far more than merely communicating ‘to’ various stakeholder groups. Two-way dialogue is imperative, especially since Blue Label considers its various stakeholders as key partners in its endeavours.
  • Our processes are designed to be both proactive in terms of engagement and responsive to any attempt by stakeholders to engage with us.
  • As the Group expands, stakeholder identification and prioritisation are an ongoing process.

Our stakeholder engagement process

While the Blue Label Board is ultimately responsible for stakeholder engagement, the process of engaging with stakeholders is decentralised. Every Group company and business area deals directly with complaints from stakeholders and reports regularly to the executive management team and the Board on its stakeholder relations. This ensures that the Group’s various business units take responsibility for maintaining impactful relationships that deliver mutual benefits.

In identifying and prioritising stakeholders, the Board considers the following criteria:

  • groupings which interact with the Group, or are directly or indirectly affected by the Group’s activities; and
  • groupings which have a positive or negative impact on our ability to operate.

Exco assesses the outcome, with reference to the ecosystem in which the business as a whole operates.

Managing stakeholder risks and opportunities is performed by completion of a risk assessment as part of the overall enterprise risk management process. This enables management to deal effectively with issues and opportunities that arise while strengthening our stakeholder engagement.

Our communication channels

  • In-person meetings (including formal or informal and individual or group meetings);
  • Telephone and conference calls;
  • Annual General Meeting;
  • Media and securities exchange news (SENS) announcements;
  • Presentations and speeches;
  • Roadshows;
  • The Blue Label website;
  • Trade visits;
  • Telephone hotlines;
  • E-mail feedback forms;
  • Focus groups and workshops;
  • Publications (newsletters, circulars and e-mail updates);
  • Below-the-line advertising;
  • Marketing and social media campaigns;
  • Formal consultations and audit processes;
  • Host management and sales conferences.

Our engagement is guided by data

Our communication efforts are backed by data that informs our business activities (including new product launches), as well as communication channels and messaging.

  • We use the data provided by the billions of transactions we process annually to provide intelligent analysis of who we should engage with and how best to respond to stakeholder needs.
  • To inform us of stakeholder issues, we rely on the results of perception studies, independent research, reputation audits, whistleblowing facilities and formal grievance mechanisms and questions pertaining to our financial and integrated reports.

Stakeholder engagement matrix

WHY WE ENGAGE
EMPLOYEES
To provide strategic direction;
To inform about Group’s activities;
To remain an employer of choice that provides a safe, positive and inspiring working environment;
To understand and respond to the needs and concerns of our employees.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • A pleasant and productive working environment;
  • Updates on the performance of the business;
  • Frequent information, direction and encouragement around COVID-19 and the remote work environment.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • A robust combination of face-toface, written, digital and broadcast communications;
  • Ongoing and daily engagement at all levels as required by employees, supported by a Group employee and engagement plan;
  • Regular, direct communication between managers, teams, and individuals;
  • Culture and engagement surveys;
  • Blue Label result presentations;
  • Leadership seminars;
  • EE workshops and committee meetings;
  • E-mails;
  • Intranet communications;
  • Employee functions;
  • Community events;
  • Frequent webinars from leading medical experts;
  • Weekly communication from our joint CEOs;
  • ‘Hang-out’ sessions with comedians and motivational speakers.
OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

We supported our employees throughout the pandemic and maintained ongoing communication around COVID-19.

Our employee engagement survey found that our employees were largely happy in the workplace. We achieved a weighted average engagement score of 70%.

For more information about our human capital, visit human capital



WHY WE ENGAGE
CUSTOMERS
To better understand them, their aspirations, businesses and communications needs;
To provide appropriate products and value-adding services;
To ensure that we maintain the high-service levels they expect and deserve;
To inform product development and prioritisation;
To develop products that service our clients evolving technology needs.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • Access to world-class innovative solutions and services;
  • Access to mobile transactional services that are secure, simple, convenient and efficient;
  • Information about changes in operational procedure brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • A dedicated, national helpdesk operating daily from 07:00 to 21:00, with a team of customer relationship and technical support consultants;
  • A fully functioning remote Customer Interaction Centre to deal with any and all problems faced by customers;
  • Face-to-face formal and informal meetings
  • Online meetings
  • Formal consultation;
  • Customer satisfaction surveys;
  • Access to their free basic electricity grants via USSD and WhatsApp.

We are using our rich data lakes to provide customers with intelligent advice with respect to servicing their needs.

The Group has a customer relationship management (CRM) system, self-help facilities, and dedicated sales and technical consultants to enhance its customer engagement service.

OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

Despite tough economic conditions and the COVID-19 lockdown, Blue Label has managed to increase gross revenue and gross profit.

We maintained open lines of communication to address any concerns related to changes in operational procedure brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown.



WHY WE ENGAGE
SHAREHOLDERS
To provide current and future shareholders with relevant and timeous information, ensuring Blue Label shares are appropriately valued.
To manage shareholder expectations and reputational risk.
To maintain strong relationships, keep abreast of market developments and inform our shareholder targeting strategy.
To ensure good governance and to deepen the trust placed in us and our brand.
To get feedback that informs our strategy, business operations and how we govern our business.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • To receive relevant timeous information on our prospects and financial and non-financial performance so that shareholders can value and assign appropriate ratings.
  • To understand our financial performance.
  • To gain insight into our strategy, operations and management.
  • Updates on the progress of the Cell C recapitalisation.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • Various broker-hosted investor events;
  • Conference calls;
  • Roadshows and investor days;
  • Annual and interim results announcements and roadshows;
  • Annual General Meeting;
  • Daily e-mails;
  • Integrated annual reports;
  • Meetings with Executive and Senior Management.
OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

Shareholders have been very encouraged by the success of our back-to-basic strategy evidenced in declining debt levels and strong cash generation. They look forward to a successful conclusion of the Cell C recapitalisation transaction.

Investor interaction has increased thanks to virtual meetings having become the norm. We expect this method of engagement to grow and replace many face-to-face meetings.



WHY WE ENGAGE
REGULATORS
To maintain open, honest and transparent relationships and ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements;
To retain our various operating licences and minimise our operational risk.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • The Group’s regulatory compliance;
  • Information about the soundness and stability of Blue Label.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • Various industry and regulatory forums;
  • Meetings between regulators and our Board and management;
  • One-on-one discussions with various executive officials.
OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

Representatives from the Department of Labour made an unscheduled visit to the ITalk Holdings offices to review our COVID-19 preventative and detective measures. All their recommendations were implemented.





WHY WE ENGAGE
GOVERNMENT
To cement our social licence to operate;
To build and strengthen relationships with government, both as a partner in the development of the country and as a customer.
To provide input into legislative development processes that will affect the economy, our activities and operations.
To reaffirm our commitment to public sector business development.
To participate visibly in, and be a partner to, the transformation of South Africa and the communications sector.
To partner in increasing economic growth and reduction of inequality and unemployment.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • Information about Blue Label as a business and ways in which we can be of assistance to individuals and the economy of South Africa;
  • The tracing and recovery of lost or stolen electricity revenue.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • Participation on various platforms with government;
  • Ad hoc engagements with national and provincial departments.
OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

Blue Label engaged with National Treasury, National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), Eskom, and various municipalities to explore ways to trace and recover lost or stolen electricity revenue.



WHY WE ENGAGE
MEDIA
To leverage the reach and influence of media channels.
To share our business and investment story with stakeholders.
To communicate with relevant stakeholders and the broader public with a view to having a positive influence on behaviour that will lead to desired business results.
To protect and manage our reputation.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • Information about developments in the communications sector and Blue Label specifically;
  • Information about Blue Label’s contribution to the South African economy and our products and services;
  • Information that empowers their audiences to make informed financial decisions.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • Proactive, scheduled engagements;
  • Ad hoc meetings with Executive and Senior Management;
  • Launches of Blue Label products and services;
  • Interviews with key business media on relevant financial reporting dates;
  • Daily telephone and e-mail responses to media enquiries.
OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

Blue Label proactively engaged with the media on the recapitalisation of Cell C, financial performance, and new innovation in the Group.



WHY WE ENGAGE
BUSINESS PARTNERS AND SUPPLIERS
To obtain products or services required for conducting our business.
To maintain an ideal and timeous supply of goods and services for our operations.
To encourage responsible practices across our supply chain, including B-BBEE, local procurement, supplier conduct, and environmental considerations.
To include critical suppliers in cross-functional teams to contribute expertise and advice before specifications are developed for products or services.
WHAT THEY WANT
  • Guidance and methodology for continuing business during the COVID-19 lockdown;
  • Information about changes to the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice, and to trading arrangements in terms of our procurement systems and ERP.
HOW WE ENGAGE
  • Supplier education workshops, indabas, and fairs;
  • One-on-one negotiations and meetings.
OUTCOMES AND FEEDBACK

The provision of our core products of airtime, data, electricity, and financial services has remained uninterrupted during the COVID-19 lockdown. We attribute this to our good relationships and open lines of communication with our business partners and suppliers.