These range from our people, our customers and end users, suppliers, partners, our shareholders, our communities, regulators and our pensioners. So, it’s vital to us to engage and communicate appropriately with our stakeholders, and at the right time, being as transparent as we can. We also engage with other organisations who have a focus on business or defence and security issues to understand factors that can impact our business and how we operate.
Engaging in a two-way dialogue helps us understand stakeholder’s views and concerns, and explain our approach. We use the feedback our stakeholders give us to inform our strategy and approach to managing sustainability. Sometimes, however, due to the nature of our business we’re prevented from talking openly about all aspects of our operations.
To assist in providing a transparent account of our business we respond to a number of external indices and analyst requests for information including Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Carbon Disclosure Project and Transparency International. Each year, we report on progress in the Annual Report.
Ongoing dialogue with stakeholders
We interact with stakeholders as part of normal business practice, through regular employee surveys and dialogue with trade unions, for example. We also work closely with our strategic suppliers on joint projects and bids; importantly communicating the standards we expect them to meet.
Understanding and aiming to exceed the expectations of our stakeholders is critical to the long-term sustainability of our business and the vital role we play in helping our customers to protect people, information and nations.
Our approach to stakeholder engagement is detailed below:
We used a range of channels to engage with employees across the Group, including in-person and virtual meetings, briefings, conferences, toolbox talks, stand-downs and listening forums at all levels. Leaders provided regular updates through videos and podcasts. We also used digital channels including our Employee App, intranet, email and TV systems. Employees were encouraged to share feedback and get involved in Company activities. We ran surveys to measure employee sentiment in the year. Engagement has continued with trades unions in Australia and the UK and labour unions in the US.
Our customers and end-users
Despite international travel restrictions and the cancellation of some events, we were able to meet customers at a number of exhibitions. At these events, we ensured virtual and hybrid channels were in place to engage with customers not able to attend. We used the Carrier Strike Group deployment to meet customers on board Royal Navy vessels as part of dedicated International Industry Days. We continued to hold regular face-to-face meetings, virtual sessions and programme reviews where possible. We worked closely with end-users at customer facilities, bases and sites, always ensuring we complied with local restrictions.
We worked hard to engage directly with our suppliers early and maintained close relationships to ensure continuity of supply and to proactively manage risks arising from supply chain disruptions as a result of global events. This enabled us to support our suppliers through this challenging time, for example by providing extended demand visibility, ensuring timely payment and where appropriate having a flexible approach to terms of trade.
We engaged with our partners at physical and virtual events, including organising our own virtual conference to present PhD research we have co-sponsored with UK Research and Innovation. We maintained regular dialogue with industry partners around specific customer challenges that require a multi-partner approach, such as sustainability and multi-domain integration.
A full investor programme was possible but given pandemic related restrictions engagement was largely virtual. This took the form of management and Investor Relations meetings and an increased number of conferences and bank-led Q&A sessions. We conducted a live broadcast from the DSEI trade show and held two capital markets events, one focused on technology and our US operations, the other on ESG.
Our volunteering and fundraising programme focused on virtual and online initiatives where possible. Employees volunteered their time and expertise through virtual mentoring and coaching, and we used online fundraising tools to encourage employees to participate in virtual activities whilst still being able to fundraise away from site.
We liaised openly and constructively with various regulators, including conducting ongoing discussions with UK and US regulators in support of efforts to reduce regulatory burdens, improve bilateral defence trade cooperation and support Company licensing strategy.
Our pensioner scheme members
We enhanced our UK pensions website for members, ensuring they have access to key scheme documents and a range of pension guides on key topics. All members received a newsletter to keep them updated and engaged in their pension planning; for members of our Defined Benefit pension schemes, this included an annual report on the financial health of their scheme. We continued to work with our Consultative Committees, to ensure ongoing dialogue between the Company, Trustee and members.