Proximus is a telecommunications operator headquartered in Belgium. Proximus also provides services through Tango and Telindus in Luxembourg, Telindus in the Netherlands, and internationally through BICS, a mobile data services provider. Proximus launched Belgium’s first 5G network and provided fixed internet to nearly 2 million customers in 2020.
Proximus provides discounted services to people with low incomes, the elderly and people with disabilities. The company also provides adaptations to its products for people with disabilities. Furthermore, it partners with Passe Muraille, a Belgium organisation working to foster inclusion for people with disabilities, to solicit feedback on accessibility.
Proximus has programmes developing digital skills across all three levels. It’s Diggit programme teaches children and the elderly basic digital literacy. The programme has reached 5,000 seniors and 3,000 children since 2011. The company’s Technobel programme provides jobseekers and teachers with intermediate digital skills training, while its MolenGeek programme teaches both intermediate and technical digital skills.
Proximus meets industry norms by having a cybersecurity incident response team, which collaborate with a range of organisations such as the Belgian Cyber Security Coalition co-founded by Proximus. The company follows best practice in reporting the number of data breaches it experiences. It also has parental controls and a partnership with Child Focus for promoting child online safety.
Proximus has a range of open source projects and collaborates with four Belgian universities on topics such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). The company provides support for start-ups through collaboration, and provided big data to cities and governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company supports and uses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reports its carbon emissions data.
Proximus can provide more metrics on its contribution to its programme for reduced tariffs and the number of programme beneficiaries. It also has the opportunity to carry out a third-party impact assessment of the programme. Proximus can also consider introducing its own programme for promoting digital opportunities for women and girls. The company should also disclose how the economic value it generates is distributed among stakeholders and report income taxes paid and employment in its main markets.
Proximus can consider initiating a programme for school connectivity. The company also has the opportunity to disclose its financial and in-kind contribution to its programmes for skills development and to report the number of participants. Additionally, it can carry out a third-party impact assessment on its programmes to understand the impact on beneficiaries.
Proximus should make a high-level commitment to cybersecurity and disclose more information on senior-level oversight of cybersecurity. The company should also make its information security management certificate publicly available. As a digital company, Proximus should make a high-level policy commitment to child online protection.
While the company has a range of open source projects, it should consider making a high-level commitment to open source initiatives. Proximus can also expand its support for social or non-profit start-ups and start-ups by entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups. Proximus should enhance transparency and support inclusive and ethical innovation by reporting the number of women in technical roles, establishing a specific ethics committee, and developing a publicly available AI framework.
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.
Proximus commits to respecting human rights and the ILO core labour rights, and it has a publicly available policy statement that expects its business relationships to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. The company has included human rights issues in its materiality assessment. However, it does not disclose a process to identify, assess and take action on salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships. Moreover, Proximus describes the various stakeholders it engages with in general, but it does not specify whether it engages with stakeholders whose human rights could be affected by its activities. The company has a grievance mechanism accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, it is unclear if complainants are able to choose to identify themselves or remain anonymous.
Proximus publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, and it places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. Furthermore, the company has a policy commitment stating that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours. It also expects its business relationships to do the same. Proximus discloses the proportion of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements, but it does not provide information on its commitment to paying its workers a living wage. The company is committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment and has a time-bound target on the subject. It also discloses a breakdown of employees in different employee categories by age and gender.
Proximus has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, and it includes anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships. The company does not disclose any relevant information in relation to tax, such as a global tax strategy or income tax payments in individual tax jurisdictions. Proximus states that it does not make political contributions, but it does not disclose its overarching approach to lobbying and political engagement in a publicly available policy document. It also does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.