Report assurance statement
Independent Assurance Statement
To the Management of O2 Group
We have been asked to review O2 plc’s (O2) Corporate Responsibility Report 2005/06 (the Report) in order to provide assurance on its contents. The Report is made up of two parts: the printed review of key issues entitled ‘Mobile matters’ and the ‘online resource’ which is available at www.o2.com/cr/resource2005-06. O2 is responsible for the collection and presentation of information within the Report.
Our responsibility in performing this work is to the management of O2 only and in accordance with the terms of reference agreed with them. We do not therefore accept or assume any responsibility for any other purpose or to any other person or organisation. Any reliance any such third party may place on the Report is entirely at its own risk.
What we did to form our conclusions
Our assurance engagement has been planned and performed in accordance with the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability’s AA1000 Assurance Standard and the International Federation of Accountants’ International Standard for Assurance Engagements Other Than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information (ISAE3000). The AA1000 Assurance Principles of Materiality, Completeness and Responsiveness have been used as criteria against which to evaluate the content of the Report.
Our review consisted of the activities outlined below:
- Interviews with a selection of O2 management and functional staff at O2 Group headquarters in Slough to understand the current status of corporate responsibility activities and progress made during the reporting period.
- Visits to selected O2 operating businesses to review the systems and processes in place for managing and reporting corporate responsibility issues and to review evidence in support of claims made in the Report regarding O2’s corporate responsibility performance. The operating businesses visited were:
- Testing the scope and balance of the information contained in the Report against:
- Internal documents such as Board papers, Executive Committee papers and Corporate Responsibility Forum minutes and papers.
- A selection of external media sources relating to O2’s management of corporate responsibility issues.
- Outputs of internal and external stakeholder engagement on O2’s corporate responsibility performance and on the 2005 Corporate Responsibility Report.
- Outputs of a review of O2’s stakeholder dialogue activities conducted by an external agency.
Level of Assurance
Our evidence gathering procedures have been designed to obtain a limited level of assurance on which to base our conclusions. The extent of evidence gathering procedures performed is less than that of a reasonable assurance engagement (such as a financial audit) and therefore a lower level of assurance is provided.
The limitations of our review
Our review did not include:
- Testing the processes for gathering or reporting the various data presented in the Report. Therefore, we provide no assurance on the completeness, quality and accuracy of the data included in the report.
- Conducting stakeholder dialogue activities. Therefore, our conclusions on materiality and responsiveness are based on the review of outputs of stakeholder dialogue provided to us by O2.
- Testing the scope of the Report against issues reported on by O2’s peers.
- Testing statements made throughout the Report regarding O2’s community investment activities.
- Testing whether the report has been prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (2002)
Based on the scope of our review our conclusions are outlined below:
Has O2 provided a balanced representation of material issues concerning O2’s corporate responsibility performance?
- We are not aware of any material aspects concerning O2’s corporate responsibility performance which have been excluded from the report.
Does O2 have complete information on which to base a judgement of what is material for inclusion in the Report?
- We are not aware of any material issues excluded or misstatements made in relation to the information provided to the Corporate Responsibility Forum on which judgements are made in respect of progress against corporate responsibility and the content of the Report.
- We have reviewed information or explanation on the statements on O2’s corporate responsibility activities presented in the Report and we are not aware of any misstatements in the assertions made.
Has O2 responded to stakeholder concerns?
- We are not aware of any issues highlighted in the outputs of stakeholder dialogue provided to us by O2 that are not currently included in the Report’s scope and content.
Selected observations on particular aspects of our engagement
Our observations and areas for improvement will be raised in a presentation to O2’s management. Selected observations are provided below. These observations do not affect our conclusions on the Report set out above.
- We have observed policies, programmes and discrete activities aimed at addressing issues raised through stakeholder engagement. It is recognised that the response taken is O2’s judgement and may not always be consistent with the expectations of all stakeholders.
- With the support of an external agency O2 have developed a single methodology for tracking and prioritising stakeholder engagement activities and outputs across the Group. During our visit to O2 Germany we discussed progress in the application of this methodology which was being applied on a pilot basis at the time of our visit in May 2006.
- At the operating businesses visited and at Group we have observed processes in place to periodically review and challenge progress against the Corporate Responsibility (CR) objectives and targets set out in last year’s CR report. These processes have been used as an input to this year’s report on progress against the objectives and targets.
This is the fourth year Ernst & Young LLP has provided independent assurance services in relation to O2’s corporate responsibility reporting. With the exception of this work we have provided no other services relating to O2’s approach to corporate responsibility or any of the business processes relating to the management of the issues discussed in the report.
Our assurance team
Our assurance team has been drawn from our UK and German corporate responsibility services teams. All members of the team are experienced in social, ethical and environmental assurance having worked on similar engagements for a number of significant UK and international businesses.
Ernst & Young LLP
London, 7 July 2006