At O2 we have big sustainability goals. One of our Blueprint commitments (26/40) is to facilitate the integration of more small and medium businesses (SMEs) and social enterprises (SEs) into our supply chain.

Our procurement department has driven sustainability in the supply chain for some time now, setting clear sustainability standards and managing sustainability risk across our procurement activity. Since 2012 Telefonica UK is also driving sustainability opportunity. Driving suppliers to go beyond meeting its base sustainability requirements. Suppliers must now also make and report on specific commitments with respect to social contribution and environmental protection. They must additionally declare the sustainability credentials of their offered solution and all of these inputs are considered in making a business award.

On top of taking sustainability into account in every major purchasing decision and promoting ‘good’ businesses, we’re also keen to support the little ones and make it more accessible for them to join our supply chain.

In October 2012 we joined a new government initiative and adhered to the Supply Chain Finance Scheme, by which we agree to notify a bank as soon as an invoice is approved, giving smaller suppliers who need immediate access to low-interest loans.

Last week we held our first Buyer’s Fair at the O2 Headquarters in Slough. The objective was to break down barriers for SMEs and SEs and give them a proper insight and perhaps a way into our procurement processes.

Senior representatives from the Procurement team were on post all morning to explain the ins and outs about What, How and Where we buy, and pointing people to our public website for more resources. We also had the SME Marketing colleagues standing nearby to complement the story with the benefits we already offer small businesses as O2 customers.

Being a large corporate there are obvious reasons for which we cannot easily switch to small providers for most of our six-digit plus contracts, often European wide ones. That’s why we found it relevant to bring in some of our first tier suppliers, so they could also consider sourcing from smaller businesses themselves. Partners represented on the day included Accenture, BT, Ericsson Limited, Capita, G&D, HP, IBM, ISS and Williams Lea.

On the SMEs and SEs stands we had the likes of Connection Crew (event production), Clarity (hand wash / toiletries), Champion Agency (youth creative agency), Vandanamu  (Ethical Cotton) and ADP Projects (interior Design Services) and of course our partners from Social Enterprise UK who are always ready to support us on this journey. What struck me from talking to these businesses is how focused they were on quality and client service and I couldn’t help envision the flexibility and creativity they could bring to O2 if we accept to embrace it.

Finally, around 100 external and internal O2 visitors wandered stand by stand uncovering opportunities and making the right connections. Watch this short video to get a feel of what it was like on the day



This may seems like a small step, but it is the first step in the right direction and it upholds massive potential for business transformation. By committing ourselves and inviting our customers and suppliers to support SMEs and SEs we’re doing the right thing for the economy, we’re helping drive employment levels and addressing social and environmental issues at the same time.


Special thanks to Keithley Martin for leading the effort in the procurement team and to Martin Bradley and Alastair Eadie for their exceptional support. Looking forward to the next steps.


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