BSkyB chief looks to give sustainable values a creative edge

BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch has acknowledged that while the broadcast industry has been slow in waking up to corporate sustainability, on a strategic level it has proved beneficial for his company.

During an interview hosted by Green Mondays last week with environmental journalist Lucy Siegle, Darroch spoke at length about the CSR drivers within BskyB and his own role in terms of leading on such issues.

“In some ways [sustainability] is a little harder to get your hands around in broadcast … but we can use that to our advantage. Sometimes when we do things that are a little different they provide important points of reappraisal. The skill is to try and think about it in that way,” he said.

By way of example, Darroch pointed to the work BskyB has done in raising the profile of cycling as a competitive sport. It bankrolls its own Team Sky professional cycling team, which now competes in UCI events such as the Tour de France, and also supports grassroots cycling events.

“People stand back at that, they think it’s unusual because it’s not what they expect,” Darroch said.

He also berated the short-termism culture that exists within business, and argued that sustainability is crucial in terms of building more sustenance into balance sheets so that cash flows become durable.

“Too much of the narrative around corporations and certainly around resource tends to be on how big we are at any point in time … if you look at any of the great businesses, they have understood that dynamic,” he maintained.

While arguing that as a business, BskyB does not have a “particularly big” carbon footprint, Darroch said he was pleasantly surprised at how the company’s approach to sustainability, outlined under its Bigger Picture initiative, has resonated internally with employees.

“Staff have really understood it and got behind it. We can also see how our approach resonates with customers, they start to think differently about our brand and our business.”

In terms of reducing its own carbon impacts, Darroch revealed that the single biggest win was to make its customer-focused products such as set top boxes more reliable.

“A few years ago these used to break down one in five times. Our engineers could see the inefficiency and the waste behind that, could connect it to our environmental footprint … from that emerged a programme to change this. Today our latest HD boxes have a failure rate of less than 0.5%.”

In turn this has halved the number of service visits to customers – Darroch estimated resulting cost savings were in the region of £70m per annum.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie