ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIAL GOVERNANCE (ESG) POLICY FRAMEWORK 2021-22

INTRODUCTION

As a passive telecom infrastructure solutions company, Ascend Telecom, is committed to positively impact the environment, our customers, employees, and the community at large. Our core values have guided our ESG practices, which seek to drive growth and empower communities through responsible sustainable business practices and operations. In FY 2021-22, alongside service excellence, customer excitement, eco-friendly practices, employee commitment and diversity; Climate action has been officially included as our sixth value. As an organization, we aim to align our ESG approach with our strategic goals and the experience we seek to offer all our stakeholders (Shareholders, Society and Planet).

APPROACH & POLICY GOVERNANCE

Since our formation in 2021, ESG has always been at the core of Ascend’s approach to operating its businesses in a safe and responsible manner. Respecting environmental, health, safety, labor, social, corporate governance and business integrity concerns, is crucial to the delivery of strong returns to our shareholders and making a positive contribution to the communities around our operations. Climate change and social trends have intensified our focus and commitment. In 2018, ASCEND telecom issued a board governed environmental health and safety policy (EHS), which served as a framework to understand and manage our environmental health and safety material risks, impacts and opportunities. The updated ESG policy, 2021 strengthens our vision and focus with the aim of being Best in Class. Ascend has established a management level Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) committee, comprising of senior members across major functions at Ascend Telecom, chaired by a member of the senior management team. The ESG Committee reports to the Board of Directors on the Ascend Telecom’s ESG strategy and road map to achieve set targets and is responsible to:. Sets ESG targets and identify opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions, energy efficiency, responsible water usage and waste disposal;

  • Focuses on work place policies including Code of Conduct & Human Rights, diversity, stakeholder engagement and corporate governance policies;
  • Focuses on assessing Environmental & Social (E&S) risks, including climate risks in our existing portfolio and identify new business opportunities in the E&S space.Improving Monitoring Ascend Telecom’s ESG disclosures and reporting

The above sub-committees comprise of members across different functions like Risk, Administration and IT and will help in identifying ESG related risks and related financial impacts for the Ascend Telecom.

APPROACH AND FOCUS AREAS

CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY

ENERGY & EMISSIONS

We measure, externally verify and disclose our GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions every year. In our strategy to combat climate change and transitioning to a low carbon economy, we will strive to reduce our carbon footprint by taking on initiatives to monitor and reduce our energy consumption. Our initiatives will be aimed at:

  • Adopting solar energy in our cell sites.
  • Incorporating energy efficient natural cooler systems (wind chimney) in our sites wherever applicable.
  • Implementing automated energy management solutions to reduce energy consumption.
  • Retrofitting existing high energy consuming devices and equipment to maximize performance while consuming less electricity
  • Incorporating energy efficiency at our sites, by using solar panels, wind chimney & Li-ion batteries in our sites and use ozone friendly refrigerants for cooling.

Waste

Ascend Telecom shall make efforts to dispose waste in the most responsible manner. Electronic waste generated by Ascend Telecom will continue to be disposed through authorized personnel. Ascend Telecom is conscious of paper usage in its operations, transactions and customer communications. Our push to go digital across service and product lines will continue to reduce paper consumption, thereby reducing paper waste. Printing and photocopying operations by employees across offices will be monitored and regulated in order to reduce wastage of paper.In FY 2019-20, Ascend Telecom phased out single use plastic water bottles from all its offices pan-India. Ascend Telecom will strive to reduce the use of all forms of plastic in its offices, branches as well as in its promotional, marketing and outreach events.

ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL RISK MANAGEMENT

ESG risks and opportunities are assessed for each site at the time of acquisition and or construction of towers. This provides us with good understanding and baseline of our ESG materiality risks and facilitates the design and implementation of an actionable ESG plan. The ESG committee tracks implementation of this plan as well as monitors environmental, social & community related challenges, capex capital expenditure and benefits to community.

Scope 1: Direct Emissions Scope 2: Indirect Emissions

Adherence to Environmental, Health, Social & Safety (EHSS) norms.

The Following factors will continue to be reviewed by the Ascend Telecom ESG committee before taking decision on delivery process:

  • Social Consideration: Employment generation, Role in economic development of the region, compliance with labour laws, no exploitative / child / forced labour
  • CSR Initiatives: Schools, hospitals, medical facilities, roads, community buildings etc. provided by the company.
  • Emissions: Carbon emission co2 and GH emission.
  • Environmental Consideration: Hazardous Waste Management, Ecological impact, Emergency and Disaster management, climate change

PROCUREMENT PRACTICES

Ascend Telecom recognizes the need to work closely with our suppliers to reduce waste, improve efficiency, reduce carbon footprint and engage with them to understand their commitment towards human rights and labour practices. We will thus continue to work towards greater integration of environmental & social considerations in our procurement practices.

Ascend Telecom will make efforts to procure products which are:

  • Recycled
  • Environment friendly
  • Energy efficient
  • Locally sourced

Ascend Telecom will also set clear expectations with vendors and suppliers to abide by labour laws, human rights and regulations in their regions of business. They are expected to adhere to laws addressing child, forced or trafficked labour and in line with ILO international labour standards. Supplier ESG responsibility statement and annual review of vendor performance includes – good practice.

OUR WORKFORCE AND EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

NON-DISCRIMINATION & FAIR TREATMENT

Our employees are central to everything we do and satisfaction of our employees is critical to the long term success of the Ascend Telecom. We will provide fair and equal employment and advancement opportunities to all its employees and there will be no discrimination on the basis of race, caste, color, age, sex, disability and socio-economic status of the candidate. We ensure a fair recruitment process that helps us identify and hire people with the right values, who are then groomed, encouraged and retained through a combination of financial and non-financial incentives.

Remuneration and career progression. Ascend Telecom will continue to create an inclusive culture to ensure representation across gender, caste, creed, religion, region, physical ability and military/ veteran status. Ascend Telecom is making structured efforts on gender diversity initiatives. The percentage of women in our workforce is at 3%.

  • Professional development
  • Employee Volunteering

EMPLOYEE HEALTH & WELL-BEING

Ascend Telecom is committee to continue to take steps to promote a safe and conducive work environment for its employees and will provide guidance on occupational health and safety, appropriate healthcare benefits and medical cover to all its employees. Ascend Telecom will continue to conduct regular health check-up for its employees.

EMPLOYEE ETHICS & CODE OF CONDUCT

Ascend Telecom has a mechanisms to deal with issues related to inhumane treatment including mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, modern day slavery, of employees. This is guided by the Code of Conduct and Ethics Manual, an internal document available to all employees. The Ascend Telecom’s Conduct Regulations also define good corporate practices, financial transactions & personal account dealings, professional code of conduct and management action that will continue to promote a culture of good integrity and ethics amongst its employees

WOMEN SAFETY

Ascend Telecom has a Zero tolerance Policy on Prevention of Sexual Harassment and an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) that investigates cases of sexual misconduct and investigates them through a fair and transparent process and take action against erring employees. Ascend Telecom will continue to promote and protect the well-being of all women employees, especially women who are required to work late due to business requirements.

TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT

Ascend Telecom recognizes the importance of having a skilled workforce with necessary competencies to deliver on Ascend Telecom’s strategic and operational plans through well- structured training modules to assist in job specific development as well as personal development of the employees. Ascend Telecom is committed towards providing an environment that is conducive to and promotes training and development opportunities to all employees. Periodic training and updates on ESG are provided to all employees, especially the ESG committee members.

OUR CUSTOMERS

We recognize that maintaining the trust and regard of our customers is important for our success and longevity, in a fiercely competitive market. Through our digital platforms and initiatives, we will provide our customers, the flexibility to access and consume our Ascend Telecom services over any digital platform of their choice. We recognize that product quality and service delivery is vital for our business growth. The Ascend Telecom seeks to achieve this by regularly reviewing service levels and capturing feedback from customers.

Abiding by its Customer Privacy policy, Ascend Telecom will continue to treat customers’ data with utmost sensitivity and privacy. Ascend Telecom will also undertake initiatives to combat cybercrime and data theft by means of a comprehensive mechanism of information and data security

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Guided by our board governed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, Ascend Telecom will continue to create value for marginalized communities in the country, through well-structured programs and interventions. Our umbrella of social initiatives has positively impacted lives and helped empower and strengthen communities. Our CSR programmes focus on Rural Development, Promotion of Education, Skill Development, and Healthcare & Hygiene

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY TO STAKEHOLDERS

By means of the Whistle Blower policy, Ascend Telecom will continue to empower and encourage various stakeholders including employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, shareholders and other stakeholders to bring to the notice of the Ascend Telecom, any issue involving compromise/ violation of our code of conduct/ ethical norms, legal or statutory provisions without fear of reprisal, retaliation, discrimination or harassment. Our Chief of Internal Vigilance receives and addresses these concerns by initiating a thorough enquiry conducted by the appropriate authoritative body within the Ascend Telecom.

GOOD GOVERNANCE PRACTICES

We are committed to maintaining the highest levels of ethical standards of integrity, corporate governance and regulatory compliance. These parameters form the bedrock of our corporate governance policy. We have proactively upheld good governance practices and are constantly striving to enhance our standards. Our Board of Directors is responsible for setting the course for, and evaluating Ascend Telecom’s performance with regards to corporate governance. The parameters of evaluation include compliance, internal control, risk management, information and cyber security, customer service, social & environmental responsibility.

Ascend Telecom’s corporate governance framework complies with the Indian companies Act, the regulations and guidelines.

We will continue to adopt and adhere to the best recognized corporate governance practices and is continuously benchmarking itself with best in class practices across the globe.

DISCLOSURES & EXTERNAL STANDARDS

ESG DISCLOSURES & REPORTS

In 2020, we published our ESG performance in our Sustainability disclosure Report, following the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards. We also publish an annual Business Responsibility Report to highlight our performance against stated principles of the National Voluntary Guidelines developed by the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA). We report our emissions, energy consumption and our strategy to combat climate change in our annual response to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). We publish in detail, our corporate governance disclosures in our Annual Report. We publish through the Integrated Report, our performance and strategy in conjunction with the six capitals laid out by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). We will continue to disclose our ESG information in relevant ESG indices and forums to demonstrate our commitment to stakeholders.

`

INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY ASSURANCES ON ESG DISCLOSURES

We will find our means and methods for our Sustainability Report and our Green House Gas (GHG) emissions are externally verified by third party and accreditations sought under relevant standards. We will continue to seek third party assurance on our ESG disclosures to demonstrate credibility of our publicly available information.

PARTNERS

Expand your network by sharing Ascend Telecom tower sites    |    Become partner with Ascend to lease out Land/Rooftop space    |