Winning ways: National CSR Awards celebrates best practiceApril 2015
The inaugural National CSR Awards took place last month and saw winners both large and small, celebrating the best of ethical governance and good business practice.
Individual Outstanding Leadership Award
Sending out a strong signal for the importance of sustainability saw Bill Eyres (pictured left)w, head of sustainability (UK & Europe), at telecoms giant O2, picking up the Individual Outstanding Leadership Award. Eyres’ work with the Think Big and O2 Recycle initiatives were particular highlights for the judges. O2 Recycle, which encourages responsible recycling and reuse of electronic waste, delivers clear environmental benefits and has also passed on over £2.3m to support young people. Think Big is a £1.5m youth programme, managed by the National Youth Agency, to provide young people with opportunities to set up projects to make a difference to their own lives and to the well-being of their communities.
Best Education Project Award (Large Organisation)
Supermarket giant Tesco proved it was hungry for success in the CR space with its Eat Happy Project picking up the Best Education Project Award (Large Organisation).
With studies showing that almost a third of primary school pupils believe that cheese comes from plants, Eat Happy is the retailer’s long-term commitment to help primary school children have a healthier and happier relationship with food. It offers interactive Farm to Fork trails at stores, distribution centres and suppliers’ farms and factories. Children get to bake bread rolls, talk to lorry drivers or see how cows are milked. It’s all geared to help children to understand where their food comes from in a fun and memorable way. The project has been a huge undertaking with Tesco having invested over £8m since its launch in March 2014 when it committed to reaching 1m children. Judges were impressed by the reach of the programme with the retailer currently on track to reach 750,000 children in its first year.
Best Community / Education Development Award (SME)
BAM Construct UK is a national construction and property service company operating in seven regional divisions. They are consistently ranked as one of the top three contractors in the UK and take pride in the proactive way they work alongside the local community. In partnership with Manchester City Football Club, it scored a winner with the creation of community information and learning centres, as part of its City Football Academy construction project. The idea was to form an information and learning hub for local people seeking employment and other development opportunities. Apart from bringing together many different and various partners to bring the project to fruition, judges were particularly impressed that BAM also worked with one of its key competitors (Laing O’Rourke).
Showing that projects like this aren’t ‘one-offs’, BAM is currently discussing with the University of Manchester how it can work with them to set up a similar facility through their construction framework – this would be a “Construction Academy” and would house a Training Centre, a Learning Zone and would provide a walk in facility for people looking for employment linked to the university’s facility for people looking for work.
Best Community Development Award (Large Organisation)
One of the most talked about winning programmes was Call in Time, an initiative from Zurich Community Trust in partnership with Age UK.
Call in Time is a national telephone befriending service using employee volunteers, which was initially set up with funding from Zurich Community Trust (the charitable arm of Zurich in the UK funded by pre tax profits) and Zurich employee volunteers.
Call in Time was designed to engage employee volunteers to tackle one of the fastest growing UK social issues of loneliness and isolation faced by many older people. This is one of three long-term sustainable programmes that the Zurich and Zurich Community Trust has developed alongside its leading and broader employee community engagement programme. Now, after 10 years of development and delivery, 800 friendship calls are made every single week by volunteers from across a range of companies to some of the most lonely and isolated older people in the UK. Each volunteer makes one 20-30 minute call a week, without even having to leave their desk. Judges were impressed by the replicable nature of the programme that Zurich is keen to share with others. Indeed many other corporates (including Legal and General and BT) are already operating their own volunteer Call in Time programmes.
Innovation for Workplace Practices Award
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy… The playground nursery rhyme could have been the inspiration for Chiswick Park Enjoy-Work, the winner of Innovation in Workplace Practices.
The Chiswick Park concept was initiated by architect Lord Richard Rogers and developer Sir Stuart Lipton. Their idea was to create a physical space that would enhance the work environment and promote the work-life balance of employees. They appointed an estate management team (unusually for the time they sought people from a hospitality, rather than property background) to create and develop the Enjoy-Work philosophy and brand. All Chiswick Park-based companies and their employees are its customers and are referred to as Guest Companies and Guests respectively.
Some of the workplace practices include weekly lunchtime events (ranging from pig racing and high ropes climbing, to performances from the English National Ballet) to encourage guests to leave their desk, enjoy lunch breaks, network and return to work more productive. The judges were impressed by the unique approach of Enjoy-Work, in creating an innovative workplace, which has attracted interest globally with developers, architects, investors, facilities professionals and others requesting visits and information about the approach. It regularly shares good practice and has been held up internationally as a British standard of excellence
Environmental Leadership Award
Somerset dairy farmer Wyke Farms (pictured left) reaped the rewards of its sustainability focus with its Wyke Farms – 100% Green sustainability strategy scooping the Environmental Leadership Award. Through the long-term programme Wyke has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint and has become the first national cheddar brand to be 100% self-sufficient in green energy. It is also self-sufficient in its own solar and biogas. Judges were particularly impressed by Wyke’s onsite biogas plant, which converts 75,000 tonnes of its biodegradable waste materials from the farm and dairy per year into energy, which is then used to power the dairy and cheese making process, saving more than 5m kilos of carbon dioxide per annum.
Individual Outstanding Leadership (for Innovation & Technology) Award
Alejandro Agag, ceo of Formula E, took pole position winning the Individual Outstanding Leadership for Innovation and Technology Award. Agag was recognised for managing to create Formula E – the world’s first fully-electric championship - in just 12 months. In 2011, the EU Commission asked the FIA to set up a racing championship series for electric cars, as a way of increasing public awareness about new-technology vehicles. In the face of weighty criticism, Agag managed to sign eight host cities (Rio, Miami, London, LA, Berlin, Beijing, Malaysia and Buenos Aires) within three months as well as create the cars the from scratch by wooing some of the world’s most prestigious technical companies. Judges were impressed by Agag’s persistence – many critics didn’t think he would be able to achieve his goals within the set timeframe – and his belief in the project which managed to attract drivers, celebrities, sponsors and team principals.
Overall Excellence in CSR & Special Judges Recognition for Legacy
As Ed Gillespie of Futerra and awards presenter put it, “This isn’t just CSR… this is M&S CSR”. The stalwart of the British high street Marks and Spencer took the honours twice (pictured top right). Firstly, the Overall Excellence in CSR Award and also the Special Judges Recognition for Legacy, both awarded for the retailer’s Plan A sustainability programme.
Plan A was originally launched six years ago but was updated last year to extend its remit to its international business. Called Plan A 2020, the 100-commitment plan retains and strengthens the store’s 2015 eco and ethical commitments. Its achievements are many but include: worldwide operations, not just the UK, are now carbon neutral; its employability programme – Make Your Mark – has now been launched in international markets and sustainable learning stores have also been launched overseas. On the products side, nearly half of all its lines have a least one Plan A quality (such as being Fairtrade, sustainably sourced or made in an eco-factory), one year ahead of the 50% by the 2015 target. M&S is also the first retailer to receive the triple award of certification of achievements in carbon, water and waste reduction from the Carbon Trust.
Judges said that despite M&S being a familiar winner in the CSR space, the chain had set the bar to which others still needed to aspire, becoming one of the CSR benchmarks in the country.
Special Judges Award for Community Innovation
The Special Judges Award for Community Innovation went to the Zero Emissions Network, a tri-borough (Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets) project that aims to reduce the air pollution problems that exist in and around the Shoreditch area by engaging with businesses and helping them reduce their emissions.
It helps the businesses deliver measures that would not only benefit the business itself (namely from an economical perspective but also in terms of health benefits to employees) but also improve the air quality in the area. The project has two main priorities, recruit businesses to the network in order to promote the benefits of operating cleaner and greener, and also deliver a number of measures that will help the businesses to do this, including: free trials of electric vehicles. The project managed to recruit 130 businesses in Shoreditch (Hackney) during the period March 2013 - June 2014 at which point it was agreed to expand the project into Tower Hamlets and Islington. Since then the project has grown 180% with members now totalling 365. The judges were impressed by the scale and scope of the initiative.
Special Judges Recognition for Community Partnership
Charities Aid Foundation in partnership with Legal & General won recognition for its Social Enterprise Assist scheme (SE-Assist).
SE-Assist is a pioneering community development scheme that supports job creation, economic growth and regeneration in regional and/or city-based economies through creating a vehicle to support social enterprises to build business capacity, economic resilience and business acumen. Judges were impressed by the reach of the scheme and its replicable model that other financial services operators could easily adopt.
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