Shareholder meeteing Q&A

Written questions sent by Mr Augustin Meire

1. Proximus recently reported significant job losses.

- What is the company's policy in terms of continual training, so that workers can be trained for these new jobs? 
- Isn't it more effective to focus on training, which generates staff motivation and loyalty, rather than causing a major turnover or sudden reorientations?

For several years, Proximus has been investing in the continuous training of its employees. As part of the transformation plan, it was also decided to reduce the number of departures by making maximum use of internal mobility and various retraining programmes. These retraining programmes are in various fields.
With a view to the future, Proximus is also committed to doubling its training efforts and is investing more than €40 million in this area in 2020. The programme is based on three main pillars:

  1. Acquiring digital literacy for all
  2. Maintaining relevance in existing jobs through continual education programs
  3. Building the future by acquiring the skills needed for tomorrow's jobs through targeted training pathways.

In this context, it is also worth mentioning the industrial plan we are working on, in which we identify a number of areas for the future as well as the jobs that could be affected in the future. The aim is to set up specific transition paths for the employees concerned, including training and internal mobility, where possible.

- How does management promote social peace?

Social peace within Proximus is promoted through various elements:

  1. A central unit manages relations between the company and the trade unions. It serves as an escalation point in order to clarify/intervene on - problems arising in the field or in interactions with staff. However, the primary aim is to avoid these escalations and for this purpose the teamleaders receive training on interactions with their staff and interactions with the trade unions. In most cases problems can be solved through these channels.
  2. In addition to the meetings of the joint committee, Proximus meets once or twice a week with the trade unions in order to find solutions at national level and to consult on important changes for employees and the company.
  3. We have 5 local joint committees that also enable us to address local issues relating to well-being and social relations very close to the field.
  4. Interactions with our trade unions are also organised thanks to a clear trade union status and a charter established between the company and the unions.
  5. Finally, the company is also taking steps to train the delegates in various subjects to make interactions even more professional.

In addition, there is regular consultation between the CEO, the CHRO and the Director of Social Relations, which focuses in particular on Proximus' strategic choices and economic results.

In addition to formal consultation, it is important to mention that the various training courses for managers, as well as other internal initiatives, always give explicit attention to topics such as cooperation, communication and respect for colleagues. This is a central element of our corporate culture, as are all our efforts around new forms of organisation aimed at creating team spirit and a greater impact on employees.

2. What is the ratio of men to women in the highest management positions?

- What measures does the company apply to achieve a balanced ratio?

1)  Proportion of men/women in the highest management positions:
Proximus is particularly aware of the importance of diversity at all levels of the organisation and focuses on recruiting employees with a spirit of inclusion and growth. Once they are part of the company, we ensure that they are the best ambassadors of our corporate values by including part of our inclusion programme and philosophy in our induction days and in all related training for team leaders, experts, trainees, ... 
While ensuring balanced and talented mixed teams, Proximus strengthens its capacity for innovation and promotes its learning culture, employee satisfaction and creativity in the face of the future challenges of a digital world.
As far as gender diversity is concerned, this approach is also reflected in the representation of women at the various levels of our company:
- 38% of the Board of Directors
- 14% of the Executive Committee
- 23.8% of management team members

2) What are we doing to attract and retain female talent?

  1. We raise awareness: We want to ensure that all employees can enjoy the benefits of a diverse workplace through a variety of initiatives within our offices. To ensure inclusiveness, we have included information about our inclusion program in all training pathways for team leaders, experts and trainees. At induction days for new employees, we share information about our inclusion program. We also focus on unconscious prejudices in our various initiatives, as it can lead to unintended discrimination and be a setback in creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. We want to increase the self-awareness around this issue and learn how to set aside prejudices in order to promote a neutral decision-making process.
  2. We offer attractive employment conditions: Proximus creates conditions that enable its staff to reconcile their professional and private lives during the different phases of their lives, thanks to opportunities for internal job changes, development, working from home, part-time working and home childcare.
  3. We make sure that diversity is supported by top management: Proximus supports the internal and external activities and initiatives of the diversity network. Diversity, integration and equal opportunities are part of Proximus' sustainability strategy (as a strategic pillar around employees).
  4. We pay attention to diversity in the context of our succession management exercises.
  5. We monitor our statistics on a regular basis: This also allows us to take the necessary measures in areas that need improvement.
  6. We respect our diversity charter: With this policy, Proximus wants to create conditions in which these differences are recognised and respected and in which all employees benefit from equal opportunities. 
    For Proximus, this means:
    • Treating all candidates and employees equally, based solely on relevant skills and objective criteria.
    • Create an open and welcoming work environment that encourages contributions from people of all backgrounds and experiences.
    • Promote a spirit of respect and openness at all levels of the organization and treat all employees fairly and equally.
    • Demonstrate behaviour free from any form of racism, intolerance, discrimination, harassment or any other attitude likely to undermine the dignity of men and women in the workplace
    • Integrate diversity into all aspects of our activities without any form of intolerance.

3. What measures does the company implement to improve the efficiency of its energy consumption, which goes hand in hand with its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions?

We have already made impressive progress in reducing our carbon footprint. Between 2007 and 2015, we have reduced our CO2 emissions by 70%. As of 2016, we are a carbon neutral company for activities directly under our control. The main contributors to our carbon neutrality are transport (through greener cars and mobility plans) and heating (through the replacement of fossil fuel heating and the phasing out and optimisation of buildings). Today, 100% of the electricity we consume comes from renewable sources.

For the future, we have raised our ambitions to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions. Proximus is one of the 312 companies in the world to have adopted the methodology of the Science-Based Targets (SBT) initiative for their CO2 emissions, in order to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. Proximus' CO2 emission reduction targets are as follows:

Multiple initiatives will help us to achieve these very ambitious goals:

Managing energy consumption will be a major challenge in meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets over the next decade. We have effectively managed our energy consumption and significantly reduced our consumption of fossil fuels. We will further reduce our total energy consumption by 8% between 2019 and 2021, including through the closure of office buildings in Brussels and Antwerp, the development of a low-energy network, open air cooling and the transition to a green car fleet.

Technologies and knowledge about power and cooling of telecom equipment are evolving: more efficient rectifiers, full open air cooling or variable speed/power pumps, etc. We install this more modern equipment when older installations need to be replaced and systematically adapt less efficient equipment.

In addition to increasing our efforts to reduce our own CO2 emissions, we also intend to help our customers reduce their emissions. We do this by maintaining a good balance between extending the life of our TV set-top boxes and modems (336,000 modems and set-top boxes refurbished in 2019) and offering energy-efficient devices. Our objective was to reduce our average consumption by 50% and we achieved this in 2019. Our V6 set-top box consumes 45% less electricity than the previous model.

4. Major investments are announced, particularly in fibre optics. Should customers, and households in particular, be concerned about the impact on their bills? 

The business case for the fibre project is built on several elements. The decommissioning of the copper network and the related operating profits, the increase in our market share thanks to this superior technology, and an increase in average revenue per household thanks to a favourable product mix using the benefits of fibre technology.
We will not change our copper pricing strategy due to the investments in fiber.

5. The meeting is being held without the physical presence of shareholders due to the coronavirus crisis. Does Proximus, a large and solid company, plan to allow SMEs (at least those that were not in arrears before the crisis) to postpone the payment of the April 2020 bill until next summer?

Proximus offers the possibility to SMEs that did not use their line(s) during the month of April and who would like financial support, to obtain a one-month credit note on the subscription fees related to these services.