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Stakeholder Engagement


Stakeholder engagement is a complicated term for a simple idea: having a conversation with people who have an interest in Sprint. We engage with our key stakeholders in order to understand what social and environmental issues matter most to them, and, likewise, ensure they have the opportunity to hear and understand our views. Our objective is to provide an open and respectful dialogue where both sides benefit from the conversation and have a deeper understanding of the other party’s position. Although we cannot always agree with our stakeholders, or even fully respond to the feedback (if the information is particularly sensitive or proprietary), we strive to openly and honestly explain our position. It is clear that our stakeholders want us to succeed and feel “vested” in Sprint’s performance. We appreciate their commitment to our success and their direct feedback on how we can do better.

Sprint’s Stakeholder Process

There are many stakeholders who have an interest in Sprint’s performance and effectiveness. We follow a specific process to help us maximize the value of these relationships. The steps in our process include identifying and prioritizing the most important types of stakeholders, defining an owner for each type, and then figuring out the best ways to get their feedback and follow-up with them.

As a large, public company with many interested stakeholders, we have found that we need to offer a wide range of feedback options. This includes how we get their input (personal meeting, Web, telephone, video conference, text, email, focus group, etc.) and what type of input we are trying get (qualitative or quantitative). By offering a wide range of feedback options, we are able to gather input from the most people through the method with which they are most comfortable.

Each year, we review our engagement options to make sure we are meeting our stakeholder needs and their ability to provide feedback to us. We also ensure that within each stakeholder category, there is a defined escalation path if the stakeholder doesn’t believe they are getting the level of engagement they need. In some cases, this may mean talking to someone at a higher level within the organization or going through Sprint’s Executive Services Group, or even contacting our board of directors through their email address. Guidelines and procedures for contacting the Sprint Board of Directors can be found within our Corporate Governance Guidelines.

The table below provides a summary of our top stakeholder categories, corporate owners, primary engagement methods and a sample of the types of metrics we use in each category. The data is representative of our approach, but in each case there may be additional owners of an aspect of a stakeholder category, many more methods of engagement, and considerably more metrics.

Beyond top line business performance metrics, such as purchase volume and churn rate, stakeholder engagement provides the single greatest opportunity to understand, predict and manage our corporate performance.

 

Sprint Stakeholder Engagement Process by Stakeholder Category

 

Select and Prioritize Stakeholder Categories
Define an Owner
Determine Primary Engagement Methods
Define Metrics
  • Customers
  • Chief Service Officer Vice President, Product Management
  • Customer Care – call centers, retail stores, online support
  • Sprint Social Care – Facebook, Twitter, Sprint.com Community
  • Transaction and attitudinal surveys
  • User experience forums
  • Time/calls to resolve problem
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Specific performance metrics per care channel or engagement type
  • Survey results
  • Employees
  • Senior Vice President, Human Resources
  • Grievance process/labor dispute resolution
  • Employee hotlines – ethics, benefits
  • Sprint Space (online employee social community)
  • Employee satisfaction and other surveys
  • Quarterly All-Hands meetings
  • Skip-level meetings
  • Sprint Idea Network
  • Volume and tone of traffic on intranet community
  • Survey results
  • Idea generation – volume, # pipeline stages, impact of idea implemented
  • Participation rates in employee programs/call volumes hotlines
  • Voluntary churn
  • Shareholders & Investors
  • Vice President, Investor Relations
  • Quarterly investor calls with top 20 investors
  • Quarterly investor updates
  • Shareholder meetings
  • SEC filings
  • Annual investor meeting
  • (New) SRI investor meeting (4Q13)
  • Investor perception survey results
  • New investment
  • Maintained investments
  • Investor participation rates
  • Business Partners & Suppliers
  • President, Network and Operations
  • Quarterly review meetings – suppliers/business partners over a set level of annual spend
  • Supplier assessment process/capacity building
  • Supplier scorecards/audits
  • Performance on quarterly scorecard – more effective engagement leads to higher scores
  • Supplier assessment - percentage meeting criteria
  • percentage of top suppliers participating in capacity building efforts
  • percentage top supplier movement over time into compliance
  • Government & Regulators
  • Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
  • Regular meetings with key congressional leaders to ensure their familiarity with our business issues
  • Regular meetings with state regulators in key areas affecting our business
  • Regular dialog with EPA/DOE corporate program management teams
  • Open doors – opportunity to meet with government officials and regulators as needed
  • Results of issues being championed
  • Inclusion in EPA/DOE programs, leadership status
  • Community & Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Corporate Responsibility
  • Community engagement/support: six communities (based on Sprint employment): Overland Park, Kan; Atlanta; Dallas/Fort Worth; New York; and Denver.
  • CR stakeholder panel moderated by Ceres
  • Close relationship with specialized NGOs per CR issue area, as extended member of CR Working Committee
  • CR website — application process
  • CR email feedback process
  • CR conferences
  • Percentage recommend/advocate for Sprint
  • Stakeholder perception survey
  • Community/NGO recognition
  • Engagement tone/results – percentage issue resolution
  • Inquiry volume
  • Response time
  • Industry Analysts & Market Experts
  • Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Corporate Responsibility
  • Dedicated analyst relation team
  • Weekly analyst update emails
  • Dedicated website
  • Annual analyst meeting
  • Formal feedback following annual analyst meeting
  • Improved Sprint ratings from analysts
  • Annual perception survey and engagement questionnaire

 

The final steps of Sprint's stakeholder engagement process are responding to their feedback and managing any stakeholder risks. Since we have such a wide range of engagement options, our response approach also varies. Our feedback may be formal and written (as is the case with many of our NGO, employee and customer stakeholders), personal and verbal (as is the case with our top investor, analyst and governmental stakeholders), or even indirect (in cases where we let stakeholders know their input will be considered as part of a development effort — such as product design, marketing campaign or new service program).

One of the biggest benefits of stakeholder engagement is that you have the opportunity to understand any risk you may be facing from key stakeholder groups. If you are doing a good job listening to your stakeholders and engaging the right ones, you have far less risk because you are able to identify and address problems earlier in the cycle, reducing the level of stakeholder frustration. The owners of each stakeholder category are expected to identify and manage any stakeholder risks they uncover and share them with other teams as needed.

Corporate Responsibility Stakeholder Panel

Within the Corporate Responsibility team, we own a specialized stakeholder engagement process that is managed by Ceres. When Sprint joined Ceres in May 2010, it was able to take advantage of Ceres's 20 years of experience in leading meaningful and effective stakeholder engagement. Ceres specializes in bringing companies together with investors, environmental and social-issue experts; public-interest organizations; and other stakeholders in face-to-face dialogues to find smart business solutions to each company's biggest sustainability challenges.

Sprint and Ceres partnered to create a stakeholder panel that had expertise in all of the key CR areas identified in Sprint's materiality assessment. The initial panel had 12 members from non-governmental organizations, socially responsible investment groups, academia and Sprint strategic partners. The first meeting was held in June 2011, and the second in May 2012, both at Sprint headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.

We had 13 stakeholders participate in the second meeting and were fortunate to have 40 Sprint participants, including nearly every Sprint executive engaged at some level with the stakeholders during their day and a half meeting with Sprint. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse spent about 30 minutes with the team, directly speaking with them about our interests, opportunities and challenges. It was a terrific opportunity for our executives to meet in person and recognize the value they bring to our business.

A summary of the top stakeholder comments and our responses is below.

Stakeholder Feedback

 

Sprint's Response

Sprint may want to identify new goals and targets in one or two key areas to extend its sustainability leadership and continue to raise the bar for the sector.   As of June 2013, Sprint is the only U.S. wireless carrier to have absolute reduction goals for scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions, operational waste, water and paper use. Sprint is also unique in its commitment to secure a fixed percentage of its electrical energy from renewable sources. We are committed to leading the U.S. telecommunications industry to become more sustainable and will continue to increase our goals as operationally possible. Within the past six months, we added our water reduction goal (30 percent by 2017) and increased our electricity reduction goal from 15 percent to 20 percent.
     
Sprint could make stronger connections between the business priorities of Network Vision, operational commitments, machine-to-machine solutions and other efforts and its sustainability strategy.   Sprint agrees and has been working to tighten those linkages. Although we have been doing this for some time, the linkage may not be obvious to consumers or business customers. We are working to increase the messaging for our CR efforts as a whole to better reflect its importance to our business.
     
The group strongly supported Sprint's intent to formalize the board's role of providing oversight for sustainability in the Nominating and Governance Committee's charter. Stakeholders also encouraged Sprint to consider linking executive compensation to attainment of key sustainability goals as a tool to facilitate integration and accountability for sustainability throughout the organization.   The board's CR oversight role was made formal in the summer of 2012. Sprint has linked Sprint executive performance objectives to key CR goals but does not currently plan to add CR goals to its short-term incentive (STI) and long-term incentive (LTI) plans. Our STI and LTI plans are fixed for all employees and include just three or four corporate objectives that are fundamental to our success, such as cash flow, customer retention and revenue. CR activities support these objectives, but until Sprint changes its incentive plan approach, CR metrics are unlikely to be included.
     
While recognizing Sprint's clear leadership position within the sector for its green phone offering and commitment to product take-back, the stakeholder group encouraged the company to extend its commitment to innovation to address such social issues as accessibility and distracted driving.   Sprint agrees and will continue to seek out leadership opportunities where there is opportunity. We define a good opportunity as one where we can have a disproportionate impact on the industry with low to moderate resources. This has been the case with accessibility. Sprint was already the leading provider of relay services for the deaf, but services for the visually impaired appeared to be sub-par within the industry as a whole. Within a matter of a year, Sprint was able to develop good relationships with key stakeholders for the visually impaired, roll out new service offerings, and become a market leader. In May 2013, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was the keynote speaker at the M-Enabling Conference (the first telecom leader to do so), and he expressed his understanding of the role telecommunications services can play as an equalizer for those with disabilities.
     
There is an opportunity for leadership on radio frequency emissions within the telecom sector and Sprint is well-positioned to engage on this issue.   Research has consistently been unable to find a causal link between cell phone use and negative health impacts, despite decades of review and millions of dollars in funding. There are national and international standards for emissions that Sprint and the other carriers follow. While Sprint does not believe it is necessary to fund additional research on its own at this time, it believes that it can do a better job in sharing the results of current research. Sprint also believes it can translate the studies and conclusions into language its customers can understand and appreciate. This is currently being evaluated for opportunity.
     

Recognizing the risk and significant sustainability impacts associated with supplier operations, Sprint should continue to bolster its approach to supply chain management. Key actions Sprint can take include disclosing the sustainability requirements and scorecard for suppliers, partnering with others in the sector on driving consistent changes on social impacts with suppliers, and tracking and measuring performance improvement.

  Sprint appreciates this feedback and has made considerable progress on its supplier engagement during the past 12 months. Sprint has publicly shared its assessment questions with more than 100 top suppliers to improve their performance. Sprint expects to more fully disclose its supplier sustainability scoring approach and introduce a new tool to build supplier capacity by the end of 2012.
     
Stakeholders noted the importance of public policy engagement on critical issues, including energy, privacy, security and safety, that impact both the company and society. Sprint was encouraged to provide greater clarity on its positions on specific issues and political contributions   Sprint was recognized this past year for taking a strong and public position on the need to extend the Production Tax Credit for wind. Sprint leaders directly engaged with congressmen in Washington, D.C., to share why we felt it was important and why it was relevant for Sprint. We also engaged a local chamber of commerce against an effort to weaken a state-level Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement. Sprint also engages on issues related to e-waste and privacy and expects to continue to take a public position on issues that directly impact Sprint, the environment and society.
     
There is a strong sense that Sprint can make connections between key sustainability efforts and do a better job communicating the full impact of its commitment to sustainability.   Sprint agrees. We have taken stock of our opportunities to more effectively communicate and increase our efforts in this area. For example, we recognize Sprint CEO Dan Hesse's commitment to sustainability and willingness to speak publicly as an important asset. Within the past several months, Hesse has been a keynote speaker at both Ceres and the M-Enabling Summit, with speeches that addressed why CR is important to Sprint and to the industry as whole. We have also started publishing a series of fact sheets — briefing documents on separate sustainability topics that share what we are doing and what the business impacts have been.
     
Recognizing the market has a short-term focus on quarterly profits, stakeholder participants still identified a number of ways for Sprint to deepen engagement with the investor community, in particular engaging the Socially Responsible Investor (SRI) community and long-term investors (pension funds) on its sustainability performance.   Sprint is actively pursuing this recommendation. The CR team is working with Investor Relations to hold our first SRI investor meeting before the end of 2012. We hired an outside expert to assess our opportunities, met with several SRI investment groups at the Ceres Annual Conference, and are well on our way to planning the event.