Founded in 1983 through a corporate reorganisation, BCE is a Canadian telecommunications services company. Through its subsidiaries Bell Wireless, Bell Wirelines and Bell Media, the company provides fixed and mobile communications, internet and television services. At the end of 2021, the company had approximately 11.7 million wireless subscribers, 3.9 million retail high-speed internet subscribers and 2.7 million television subscribers.
BCE contributes to universal access to digital technologies through the Government of Canada’s Connecting Families programme. It also provides accessibility discounts and has an Accessibility Services Centre dedicated to serving customers with disabilities. BCE discloses the number of its employees with disabilities and works closely with various partners focused on accessibility, such as the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.
BCE contributes to increasing media and digital literacy among young people and their families to promote a positive online experience. Through the Virgin Plus’ RE*Generation programme, the company provides underserved populations free in-demand digital and professional skills trainings to launch them into meaningful and sustainable digital careers. The company also continues to donate used computer equipment to Ordinateurs pour les écoles du Québec (OPEQ), an organisation that works to provide computers to schools in Québec.
BCE follows industry best practice by assigning accountability for cybersecurity at a senior level and disclosing how cybersecurity is managed at the company. BCE stands out in its cooperation with national authorities on child online safety. It supports the operation of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection as well as NeepHelpNow.ca to help stop the spread of sexual content online. It is also a founder of the Canadian Coalition Against Internet Child Exploitation (CCAISE).
BCE has an opportunity to support initiatives enhancing digital opportunities for women and girls. The company can also disclose participation and impact metrics for its existing programmes for digital access, as well as how the economic value it generates is distributed among its stakeholders.
BCE has room for improvement in supporting open, inclusive and ethical innovation. It can contribute to open source projects and also increase its support for the tech innovation ecosystem by supporting start-ups. The company should also report the number of women it employs in tech roles, as well as disclose the ethical considerations it follows in its research and development (R&D) and artificial intelligence (AI) activities.
Core Social Assessment
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
BCE commits to respecting human rights and has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, it has no publicly available policy statement for itself or expecting its business relationships to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. BCE has a human rights audit programme for its manufacturing subsidiary, but it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and act on salient human rights risks in its other operations and in its business relationships. Moreover, the company does not engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations.
BCE publicly commits to respecting worker health and safety. It also places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. Furthermore, for its own operations, the company does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours. The company provides a breakdown of employees in different categories by gender and demonstrates that it has at least 30% women on its board. However, it does not disclose employee breakdowns for other indicators of diversity. BCE also does not provide any relevant disclosure in relation to paying its workers a living wage.
BCE has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in its business relationship contracts. It also has a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints on the topic. BCE does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement in a policy statement or report its lobbying expenditures. Furthermore, the company allows political contributions, albeit with the consent of the Chief Regulatory Officer.