Incorporated in 2001, Comcast is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky. It is a leading provider of internet and cable television in the US. It also provides media content, operates theme parks, and produces and distributes filmed entertainment globally. Comcast also operates in Austria, Ireland, Japan, Italy, Germany and the UK.
Comcast is a leader in community initiatives for providing universal and affordable access to digital technologies. Through its Internet Essentials Partnership Program, more than 10 million people from low-income backgrounds have benefitted from affordable access to internet and subsidized or donated devices. The programme’s impact has also been verified by several third-party impact assessments. Comcast also provides funding to organisations that promote digital inclusivity for women and girls. Further, it offers products specifically designed for people with disabilities.
Comcast’s digital skills development programmes aim to improve media and digital literacy among low-income communities, teach children coding and train underrepresented and unemployed communities for technology jobs. Alongside the other benefits of its Internet Essentials Partnership Program, in 2020 the company initiated a partnership with various public and non-profit organisations to provide free internet access to students.
Comcast demonstrates high-level responsibility for cybersecurity through executive-level positions and committees. It also reports on government requests for personal information. The company clearly explains how customers can report online harms to children and how its products can be used to control sensitive content for children.
Comcast is committed to open innovation, as evidenced by its efforts to share its code repositories via one platform and by its financial support for researchers advancing the field of digital technology. Further, the company provides venture capital and start-up support, including assistance for social start-ups and start-ups founded by people from underrepresented groups. Comcast is also committed to reducing its environmental footprint.
Comcast has an opportunity to improve in the area of access by disclosing the number of its employees with disabilities, and reporting how it solicits feedback from people with disabilities in designing products and services. The company can also report metrics on the amount of its contribution to programmes that address the gender digital divide, and the number of programme participants. Further, the company should disclose details about how the economic value it creates is distributed among stakeholders.
Apart from its existing efforts in the area of skills development, Comcast can also focus on supporting programmes on digital skills that can be applied to improving livelihoods in general. It can improve its performance by disclosing information on its financial and in-kind contribution and the number of participants for its skills development programmes.
Comcast can provide evidence of its support for sustainable, ethical and inclusive innovation. It can disclose whether it supports any non-profit or academic research on sustainability topics or whether it shares its data sets for the purpose of sustainability research. The company discloses the number of its research and development (R&D) facilities in the US. But it should expand its reporting by disclosing the number of women employed in technical and in R&D roles at the company, as well as how it applies ethics in its R&D activities.
Core social indicators
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.
Comcast commits to respecting human rights in a publicly available policy document. However, the company’s commitment to respect the ILO core labour rights can be stronger. For example, the company has no policy statement to indicate commitment to respecting the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Comcast has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. The company does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on the salient human rights risks associated with its own operations and with its business relationships. Moreover, the company does not engage with stakeholders whose human rights could be impacted by its operations.
Comcast publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships. However, the company makes no public statement to indicate that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours. It is also not explicit in stating if it requires its business relationships to do the same. The company also does not provide relevant information on whether it pays its workers a living wage. Nor does it provide a commitment towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. Comcast provides information on the number of employees for different employee categories based on diversity indicators such as gender, race and ethnicity, but it has an opportunity to also provide this information per age group.
Comcast has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. Comcast’s tax strategy is applicable to its UK operations only and the company does not disclose its income tax payments in individual tax jurisdictions. The company discloses its approach to lobbying and political engagement. However, it has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it discloses its lobbying expenditures for its US operations only.