Growing value supports CSR
In 2011, thanks to support from our customers, TELUS produced strong financial growth and many industry-best results. We believe our financial strength, unrelenting focus on our growth strategy and disciplined adherence to our financial policies will position TELUS for continued success, which will benefit our many stakeholders. For example, our financial strength enables us to continue making strategic capital investments that are helping us bring the latest communications innovations to Canadians. In addition, it provides a strong foundation upon which we continue to fulfill our role as a leading corporate citizen that is able to give where we live.
We apply a disciplined approach to our corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, setting annual long-term targets, measuring and monitoring our CSR progress and then reporting back on our results. We have disclosed our environmental performance since 1992 and we have produced a CSR report for 15 consecutive years. Each year, we endeavour to expand the scope of our report and to present information in a transparent, balanced and comprehensive manner.
Our CSR scorecard
Our CSR scorecard summarizes the 2011 CSR targets, actual results and highlights, as well as our 2012 CSR priorities and targets. We have engaged Deloitte & Touche LLP (Deloitte) to review certain key performance indicators and provide an assurance statement as to the accuracy of the reported results.
To gauge our success, we follow the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) definition of CSR, which is:
A firm’s accountability to internal and external stakeholders for organizational performance towards the goal of sustainable development.
This year, we self-assessed our 2011 CSR disclosure at an A+ GRI Application Level and Deloitte confirmed our rating.
TELUS supports the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), which helps businesses align their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. We became a signatory of the UNGC in 2010 and report on our adherence to its principles.
Disclosure and governance
We take a proactive approach to corporate disclosure and have adopted a number of leading-edge governance policies. Our Board of Directors was among the first in Canada to voluntarily give shareholders the right to vote on executive pay and the Board is very engaged in discussions and oversight of key enterprise risks. Notably, we provide updates to the Board through its Corporate Governance Committee on our environmental and CSR performance each quarter.
Our commitment to governance was demonstrated in February 2012, with the announcement that TELUS was giving shareholders the opportunity to decide whether to eliminate the Corporation’s dual class share structure based on a one-for-one conversion ratio of non-voting shares into common shares. This was to be done by holders of both shares classes voting separately at TELUS’ annual meeting of shareholders on May 9, 2012. The proposed share conversion was responsive to shareholder feedback, would simplify the share structure to one class and extend voting rights to all shareholders, all of which is consistent with good corporate governance.
However, the company withdrew the proposal on May 8, 2012 in the face of opposition (including an April 20 dissident proxy circular) from U.S. based Mason Capital, who had rapidly acquired approximately 33 million common shares or 19.0 per cent of that class. This did not allow TELUS to reach the 66 2/3rds approval level of votes cast in that share class for the proposal to proceed. Disturbingly, Mason had also sold short an almost equal amount of non-voting and common shares so that its net economic interest in TELUS was only 416 thousand shares or about 0.13 per cent of TELUS total shares. In the May 8 release, TELUS noted that if Mason’s shares were factored out, the proposal was on track to be overwhelmingly approved by both classes of shareholders, with 92.4 per cent of voted shares in favour of the proposal. TELUS stated that its best option was to reintroduce a new proposal in due course and that it remained committed to a one-for-one share conversion ratio.
Our disclosure practices continue to gain external recognition. Our 2010 annual report was ranked eighth best in the world by the Annual Report on Annual Reports, a global ranking of 1,500 companies. IR Magazine, through a survey of more than 250 investment professionals, recognized TELUS early in 2012 for having the best financial reporting and fourth best investor relations program in Canada.
As well, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) recognized TELUS with the Overall Award of Excellence for Corporate Reporting, CICA’s highest award in Canada, for the fourth time in the last five years. We also received Honourable Mention (second) for Excellence in Sustainable Development Reporting.
Improving our CSR reporting
We expanded the scope of our 2010 CSR Report to include a greater focus on our customers and our concentrated efforts to enhance customer experience. We have further increased this focus in our 2011 CSR report as putting customers first is our top corporate priority. Also this year, we have provided better integrated information about our international operations in our report.
Looking ahead, we remain committed to continuing to drive CSR accountability across TELUS’ strategic planning and performance management processes with a specific emphasis on bolstering innovative reporting for the benefit of our customers, team members, investors and communities.