Corporate & Social Responsibility

Corporate Responsibility

We recognise our duty to stakeholders to operate the business in an ethical and responsible manner.  We are committed to developing our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, recognising that it can play a major part in leading and influencing all of our people and operations.  We work to ensure that we provide the right resources, energy and focus to meet the expectations of all of our stakeholders in relation to CSR.

This report does not contain information about any policies of the Group in relation to human rights issues since it is not considered essential for an understanding of the development, performance or position of the Group’s activities.

Work Place

We recognise that our people are key to the success of the Group and we value the contribution of each and every one of our employees. We strive to create an inspiring working environment where everyone is engaged and motivated.

Employment Policies

The employment policies of the Group embody the principles of equal opportunity and are tailored to meet the needs of its different businesses and the locations in which they operate.

The Group’s employment policies and procedures are described in detail in its Staff Handbook, a copy of which is available to all employees.  This Handbook takes account of relevant employment legislation and best practice. New policies, procedures and related training are developed and delivered as required.

Code of Ethics and Bribery

The Group has a written code on business ethics (the ‘Ethics Code’), which is reviewed regularly by the Board and sets out guidelines for all employees to enable the Group to meet the highest standards of conduct in business dealings, including those with overseas suppliers. On joining the Group, whether by way of acquisition or otherwise, all employees are made aware of these standards and procedures to ensure compliance is achieved.

Senior employees are required to sign an annual statement of compliance with the Ethics Code.  A dedicated and confidential Whistleblowing hotline service is available to employees should anyone wish to report perceived improprieties.  Arrangements are in place to ensure that any reports are followed up and the appropriate action taken.

The Group’s anti-bribery policy sets out how employees must act to ensure that our zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption is upheld.

Modern Slavery Act

Our business principles lay down the standards we set ourselves to ensure we operate lawfully, with integrity and with respect for others.  As part of this, we are committed to implementing and enforcing effective systems and controls to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place anywhere in our supply chains or in any part of our business.  We fully acknowledge our responsibility to respect human rights as set out in the International Bill of Human Rights and we are also committed to implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights throughout our operations.

All new employees are subject to pre-employment checks to confirm their identity and eligibility to work in the UK prior to their starting work within the Group.  Information is provided to all employees on their statutory rights including sick pay, holiday pay and any other benefits they may be entitled to by virtue of their employment.  We pay all directly employed labour at least the living or minimum wage, as relevant.  Where recruitment agencies are used, we ensure they comply with all legal requirements.  These procedures collectively help to address our on-going commitment to protect our employees’ human rights and the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour.

To ensure a high level of understanding of the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains and our business, all Directors have been briefed on the subject and we provide training to relevant members of staff.  Through this training, as well as through Group wide internal communications, all employees are encouraged to identify and report any potential or actual wrongdoing that they consider to be negligent, improper or illegal via a dedicated and confidential Whistleblowing hotline, which is available 24 hours a day.

Diversity

We are committed to equal opportunities and the creation of an entirely non-discriminatory working environment. The aim of our diversity policy is to ensure that no job applicant, or employee, receives less favourable treatment because of, amongst other matters, gender, marital status, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief or disability. All decisions are based on the merits of the individual concerned. The Group is dedicated to undertaking its business operations in a way which respects individual human rights, treats individuals with dignity and allows freedom of association.

Procedures are in operation to support the Group’s policy that disabled persons, whether registered or not, shall be considered for employment and subsequent training, career development and promotion on the basis of their aptitudes and abilities. Where members of staff become disabled every effort is made to ensure that they are retrained according to their abilities.

Health and Wellbeing

In order to meet employees’ needs for support both at work and at home the Group offers occupational health benefits across its businesses.

Employee Communication

Each business takes responsibility for fostering employee engagement through appropriately structured communications, training and incentive arrangements. Employee views are sought by management and taken into consideration when making decisions that may affect the employees’ interests. A broader understanding of the Group and opportunities within it are made available to employees through a Group wide magazine.

Share Schemes

The Group’s ongoing desire for employees to be able to share in the performance and success of the Group as a whole is afforded through an approved Sharesave Plan, which has now operated for over 20 years.

Modern Slavery Statement

Click here to read our Modern Slavery Statement.

Environment

We recognise our responsibilities to achieve good environmental practice and to continue to strive for improvement in areas of environmental impact. Our approach is to work through education, communication and direct action wherever possible.

Board Responsibility

The Board is aware of its responsibilities with regard to the environment, receives regular reports on all environmental matters and has nominated Chris Sander, Chief Executive Officer, as the Director responsible for such matters.

Environmental Risk Assessment

Potential areas of risk are identified through the Group’s risk assessment programme and mitigated wherever possible. Each business undertakes quantitative audits which enable a measure of environmental improvement to be made. The Operating Companies have achieved, or are working towards, ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management System Certification.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Carbon Footprint

The Group is party to a Climate Change Agreement (CCA), is constantly looking for new ways to reduce its carbon footprint and has put various initiatives in place, including continued investment in energy efficient capital equipment and the gradual rollout of passive ultra low energy LED lighting.

Furthermore, the majority of cars available to employees as part of the Group’s car scheme are currently subject to a CO2 restriction of 130g/km. The average CO2 of our non-commercial fleet as at the end of 2016 reduced to 103g/km from 104g/km at the end of 2015 with 82% (2015: 76%) of vehicles having a CO2 of less than 110g/km.

Community

The Group believes that the interests of responsible businesses need to be aligned to the interests of the local communities where they operate and to that end, give back to the community where we can, contributing to charitable causes and local groups during the year.

Health and Safety

The Board is aware of its responsibilities on all matters relating to the health, safety and welfare of employees, visitors and customers on Group premises, and to others affected by the Group’s activities.

Board Responsibility

The Board takes its responsibilities seriously with regard to health and safety and has nominated Chris Sander, Chief Executive Officer, as the Director responsible for such matters.

Health and safety matters are a permanent agenda item at all Group and subsidiary Board Meetings. A summary report outlining the Group’s activities is provided on a regular basis for Group Board Meetings, including up to date statistics relating to accidents and incidents that have occurred since the last report.

Health and Safety Policies

All of our businesses are required to have clearly defined health and safety policies and procedures relevant to their operations and risks. They are required to implement all defined policies and procedures into the work environment which are audited annually by Group representatives to ensure that they are fit for purpose. These audits, the results of which are notified to the Board, are in addition to each business’ own protocols.

The Group health and safety policy statement is brought to the attention of all employees and copies of the statement are available upon request to all interested parties.

Safety Management Systems

Each business has developed a safety management system appropriate to their operations and in accordance with either HS(G)65 or OHSAS 18001.

All of our businesses have arrangements in place to consult with employees on matters which may affect their health and safety. The Group is in regular contact with regulatory bodies both directly, and via industry trade associations. The health and safety performance of each business is collectively benchmarked against other companies operating in similar business sectors. All new companies acquired by the Group undergo a stringent audit of their Safety Management Systems to establish compliance with appropriate legislation and Group policy.