We fundamentally believe that the E, the S and the G in Environmental and Social Governance should not only be interlinked but should have become common practice for all modern businesses. Recent investment and sustainable bonds performance have proven that businesses with a sound ESG strategy, demonstrating social values are outperforming those that have not. We have even seen comment from some major investors in the past year that they themselves envisage rerouting investment away from as many as half of their existing partners (if they do not develop a strong ESG strategy).
An important area where your social values can be demonstrated is in becoming involved in community initiatives and charitable work. This could be in the form of sponsorship, donations to national and local charities which may be suggested by your team, and the funding of community projects. It is important that every suggestion is given due consideration.
We conducted a similar process recently and the charities we support are:
Edinburgh Soup Hamper – an organisation in Edinburgh who supports the community by providing free soup packages containing fresh vegetables to those living on the breadline.
SAMH – an organisation who work with adults and young people providing mental health social care support, services in primary care, schools, and further education, among others in over 60 communities.
Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity – they support over 100,000 children every year, ranging in age from just a few hours old to aged 16 in some specialities. The hospital treats patients from all over Scotland primarily across Edinburgh, the Lothians, and Fife.
Simon Community Scotland - supports adults and young people who are suffering homelessness by providing individuals with emergency shelter as well as homes in the community.
As well as this we are currently compiling a team to cycle with Chris Hoy from Glasgow to Granton with Social Bite to help with their crusade to end homelessness.
In addition, we have extended our help out to members of the Scottish Charities and Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and their members as well as other community partnerships where we have offered our expertise in utility management to help these organisations manage their utilities better, either at no cost as part of our staff’s voluntary work, or on a not-for-profit basis.
Another area to review is customer interactions and committing to treating every one of your staff, customers, suppliers, contractors, partners, and stakeholders with the same standard, regardless of any protected characteristic under The Equality Act (2010). As a Company, with our social values, we have built a strong culture of integrity, respect and caring for our people, which is something we carry to our service levels daily. In terms of remuneration we are a living wage employer and give each member of staff an additional 2 duvet days to compliment their holiday entitlement and to take at short notice when life away from work requires. These steps have helped improve our overall staff morale and internal surveys have charted year on year improvements in terms of our staff’s happiness at work. We would suggest that these surveys are carried out anonymously to provide an equal voice to all stakeholders and a true benchmark to build on.
Involvement - keep your staff fully informed of policies and procedures and encouraging them to share their ideas on both internal processes affecting them and the way our service is provided to customers/clients and strive to maintain an open and honest approach to all your communications. It may be worth considering setting up an employee forum with nominated employee representatives. This will allow all your employees to take an active role in the organisation and allow them to be fully involved in the future of the business.
It is also important to recognise the value of education in your community and supporting individuals during this process is key to advancement. Actively encouraging your employees to take up company funded training courses is great for retaining and developing staff and considering offering several work experience placements in partnership with local schools and agencies is another good way to build stronger community links.
With regards to your office space and local environment look for opportunities to be a good neighbour and share your work with your expertise freely, the word of mouth and positive feedback will help embed you in the local community and further your reach beyond that you can achieve yourself. Consider installing electric vehicle charging points for use by your staff and your neighbours. To help with your water management you could look to install waterless urinals and provide reusable water bottles to all staff as well as encouraging recycling throughout the workplace and at home – as we collectively work towards net zero everybody playing their part can really help make a difference.
Strive to engage with local suppliers and businesses where possible to meet your business’ operational needs, to support businesses within your area and decrease your carbon footprint. In respect of our entire social values and ESG outlook we expect no less from our supply chain and partners.