CSR STANDS FOR CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. ALSO KNOWN AS SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY ETC., IT’S SIMPLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS ACTIVITY – AND IS LESS COMPLICATED THAN IT’S SOMETIMES MADE TO SOUND. WE’VE INVITED OUR FRIENDS AT BUSINESS IN THE COMMUNITY (BITC) TO HAVE A REGULAR SECTION IN HEAVYTORQUE TO EXPLORE THIS SUBJECT TOGETHER.
Chris Leech MBE
Chris Leech, who writes on behalf of Business in the Community, is the need-to-know guy in the world of logistics and responsible business activity. Currently, Chris works on projects with the Department for Transport concentrating on sustainability issues in the transport sector. He will give a great overview of some of the issues we plan to tackle. Chris will also sit on the CSR lead award judging panel for The Earl Attlee Award at The Heavies 2016. The Award, given in the name of Earl Attlee (Government Spokesman for all Transport matters in the House of Lords between 2010 and 2013) will be presented to a business displaying activity in a minimum of three areas (from): Environment, Engagement, Community, Charity, Supply Chain, Life Cycle, Governance.
The Earl Attlee
Responsible business practice (CSR) benefits both businesses and society. Business in the Community (BITC) helps companies mix responsible business practice into their corporate strategies. There are a range of programmes and services. Members get exclusive access to a network of like-minded companies, along with support from experts within BITC and its membership. BITC’s main focus is to show the economic gains from putting sustainability at the heart of business. It works to reform the relationship between business and society: to secure a more sustainable (and mutually beneficial) future. BITC is one of the Prince’s Charities, of which HRH The Prince of Wales has been president for 30 years. Our work is driven by a core membership of over 800 organisations – from small enterprises to global corporations. Our work crosses all sectors. We are seeing an increasing number of transport companies working with us to embed responsible practice into their business strategies. In fact, over the past 2 years there has been a 61% increase in transport-related businesses and organisations coming into membership.
This includes the Department for Transport, infrastructure organisations such as Network Rail and HS2, as well as numerous freight, haulage and train-operating companies. This reflects the key role of transport businesses as a force for change in society. It shows the sector recognises the need to publicly demonstrate the positive social and economic impacts that business brings: and mitigate future risks to business growth by operating responsibly.
Building on 30 years of action, our purpose is to create a fairer society and a more sustainable future. We engage thousands of businesses through our campaigns, focusing on:
- Stimulating the local economy and creating jobs
- Reducing the impact of unemployment
- Addressing the skills shortage
- Tackling inequality in recruitment
- Promoting wellbeing at work
- Cutting dependency on natural resources
Our local, national and international programmes empower businesses to achieve more through collaboration. We work with members to develop an integrated approach to running a responsible business. In return, we help identify and communicate the bottom line gains from investment which sustainability can bring. This is a time of projected growth within transport in the UK. This editorial is published when it is more important than ever for the heavy haulage industry to demonstrate and promote best practice in key responsible business areas. I hope that this, and the following series, will demystify the responsible business agenda and give practical advice: ensuring that sustainability is embedded within a company’s culture and throughout its organisation. The heavy haulage industry can play its part as a force for change in society.
Simple profiteering has had its day. Consumers are more conscious of social issues; constraints on resources become tighter than ever. How can sustainability provide the solution?
Sustainability is one of those buzzwords we hear all the time. It’s often dismissed as a fad, or something someone else will worry about. But some of the heavy haulage industry’s biggest players are talking about it – and acting. More and more companies are taking notice: making plans based on a sustainable approach to business. According to Business in the Community’s 2014 report ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’, opportunities for sustainable innovation are valued at £100 billion in the UK economy alone. There are £40bn worth of efficiency savings still to be made in British businesses. There is a common misconception that being sustainable is purely about the environment and safeguarding natural resources. It is partly about that but – beyond the natural environment – sustainability is a concept that has much broader scope. Jobs, people, the local economy, even money.
To be considered sustainable, a business must look beyond its immediate needs and act in a way that protects the needs of future generations. But this is not to say this is a purely selfless act. While it is about considering the future of the local community and natural resources long term, it is also about conserving your own business’s long-term future – and its ability to grow. You’re creating resilient communities around you, but also building a thriving workplace and sustainable future.
Business in the Community focuses on helping companies take practical action, which transforms their business, while enhancing its positive impact on society. During the past twelve months we’ve worked with members in the transport sector on projects to help address both immediate and long-term issues. With Network Rail, we recently created the industry’s first Supply Chain Charter for its forty-three Tier 1 & 2 suppliers. Another project saw us help train-operating franchises and infrastructure projects (such as Control Period 5 – a five-year £39bn Infrastructure investment programme) to integrate sustainability questions into bids. This coming year, with the Department for Transport and HS2, we will focus on how to embed sustainability into the industry’s culture.
These are practical actions, enabling transport firms to effectively track, measure and collate information on sustainability within their operations. In turn, this information is communicated to both internal and external stakeholders, demonstrating both the social and economic impacts each organisation brings to the communities they serve. The prosperity of business and society are tied together. Neither one can succeed without the other.
There are enormous economic, social and environmental issues challenging business models today. This means leaders must find new and imaginative ways to respond, even change the way they operate. Business as usual is not an option. Responsible business is about how a business makes its money – not just how it spends its profit. It is about managing growth responsibly while reducing dependency on natural resources. It is about how business operates as employer, supplier and customer. And how, as a neighbour, it can create vibrant communities where people flourish.
Over the next few months, in collaboration with Heavy Torque, BITC will cover a number of key issues. These will clarify the whole sustainability agenda. And hopefully inspire your organisation to review its own past, present and future performance. We would like first to discuss reducing the impact of unemployment.
Some surprising statistics reveal why it’s time to reassess how your company recruits its staff. November 2014’s Labour Market statistics show a continued rise in employment with unemployment falling. These continue a general direction of movement since late 2011 and early 2012, with 30.79 million people now in work. However, these numbers hide the growing challenges for groups who do not fare well in this changing environment. Being ‘in work’ no longer means that someone is likely to overcome poverty.
While statistics show an increase of 589,000 full-time workers since last year, other numbers highlight ongoing problems. Part-time work remains high amongst women while 1.96 million people are still unemployed. Research findings from the Resolution Foundation, released in December 2014, show that one in four workers who were low paid a decade ago have been able to move to a consistently higher wage. In other words, three out of four have stayed the same. It is crucial we look beyond these numbers and explore how we can get the best out of the labour market – for all.
Many people in the UK continue to face significant barriers to work: long term unemployment, homelessness, even a criminal conviction. Others may not get the chance to progress, or be able to fully contribute in the workplace. 80% of those living in hostels want to work, but only 5% do. In 2012-2013, only 26% of prisoners entered employment on release from prison. A massive 97% of the majority of offenders have expressed a desire to stop offending. When asked which factors in the future would stop them doing so again, most (68%) stressed the importance of a job.
Employers have a pivotal role in helping people become economically active and overcome these significant hurdles to work. The challenge is to identify the most effective ways to reduce exclusion. Because being employed clearly has a positive effect. Re-offending rates are high and are estimated to cost the UK £11 billion per year. Employment has been proven to reduce re-offending by between 33% and 50%.
According to research, one in ten people have been homeless at some point in their lives; in the past four years, the numbers of people sleeping rough in England has increased by 37%. However, only between 2% and 14% of people living in hostels and supported housing are in work. The rest are unemployed. Businesses can help in two ways. Firstly, internally through their recruitment processes. This means looking afresh at policies and processes designed over time to reduce risk – which inadvertently create structural, cultural barriers for people seeking work. Secondly, externally, in reaching out to support people who may not have the confidence to even apply for a job – by offering new and different opportunities. There is broad spectrum of careers in the world of heavy haulage.
Businesses are best placed to provide real work experience, and training in work for those who aren’t. But should there be a business involvement? Surely it is up to the individual to be proactive, rather than rely on the business community? Business can make a significant impact on unemployment by providing access to quality work for the most disadvantaged groups, such as Business in the Community’s Ready for Work programme. To date, 150 businesses in twenty locations support participants recruited through this programme. Over 3,000 people have entered employment. This is achieved through work placements which, in turn, progress into employment. The return for business is cost-effective recruitment opportunities, stronger links with the local community; and personal and professional development for employees.
It’s not only the 3,000 people who entered work who have benefited. Businesses involved have seen effects too. They gain dedicated, loyal new recruits, and so develop a highly motivated workforce. Research shows these businesses have seen a marked positive increase to their bottom line. When engaging clients or bidding for contracts, they can demonstrate the positive role their business has on disadvantaged communities.
- Take the BITC Generation Talent Self-Assessment Tool test. This helps managers involved in recruitment identify and tackle any internal bias towards unemployed people during recruitment. Use the BITC Generation Talent Initiative: this offers a bespoke account management service from Jobcentre Plus, to centralise an organisation’s regional and national recruitment needs.
- Find out if current recruitment processes automatically sift out unemployed applicant.
- Reassess what qualifications and experience are really needed for entry-level roles. Emphasise instead importance of aptitude and attitude during recruitment.
- Advertise roles through Jobcentre Plus, which has access to many talented people seeking employment.
- Ready for Work
This helps some of society’s most disadvantaged people enter employment, with business involvement at every step of the way. Ready for Work participants are supported through training, work placements, and their progress into employment.
- Ban the box
This calls on UK employers to create fair opportunities for ex-offenders competing for jobs. It removes the tick-box from application forms and asks about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process.
- Generation Talent
This calls on businesses to make a small change to their recruitment process, to increase the number of unemployed people they recruit. A self-assessment tool gives organisations a snapshot of how a company is doing on this agenda and provides top tips for support.
I hope you have enjoyed our first article on broader CSR issues and the challenges in employment. We look forward to continuing to work with, support, and challenge transport firms to play their part in creating a fairer society for all. We would love to hear from you and share your CSR news. So please get in touch and tell us what great stuff you are doing.