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I’m delighted to report further progress in this years report as we continue to put community engagement high on our business agenda.

We’re at the side of three core communities – our colleagues, our customers and partners. Doing good by them leads to good business practice. While we see operating in this way as the right thing to do, it is also integral to our ability to continue to thrive financially.

In this report, we outline what doing good business looks like, how it helps us to achieve our financial goals and contributes to our long term business sustainability.

Last year, as a result of our activities, we secured a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for sustainable development – the highest accolade for responsible business in the UK – for the second time. We retained our coveted Investors in People Platinum status, placing us in just a handful of high-achieving businesses nationally who invest in learning and development as part of their growth strategy. Growing people means a growing business in my experience.

It takes not just a determined effort to secure these awards but to have responsible business embedded within your DNA, something I’m proud to say has been the case long before corporate purpose became mainstream.

Take our school and college engagement programme. We’re working at the heart of schools and colleges just a few miles from our HQ, where we have tapped into a pool of high-quality education leavers. It has taken time, energy and effort to yield rewards but now it’s a cornerstone of how we bring young people into our business via apprenticeships. I’m so proud to see them thrive and grow in our workplace culture whilst also bringing fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm which benefits us greatly.

There are commercial benefits to responsible business practice too, especially since environmental, social and governance capabilities have become a key factor in both consumer and business purchase decision making. Buyers want more transparency around supply chains and ethical practices, built around good governance and a strong reputation, with good reason - to protect our planet.

Our future focus is on maintaining a high level of performance across the five dimensions of responsible business practice covered in this report. That itself demands a big commitment from all of our people, every single day, in every action.

But we still think we can do more. We scan the business press regularly for every additional inch of progress we can capture for best practice. We are already considered to be very good at what we do and how we do it, yet we have a relentless appetite to improve further.

We marked 50 years of trading in 2018 in the community of Tameside, Greater Manchester which is a significant milestone for any business. With the right people, right credentials and run the right way, we’ll stay a sustainable enterprise for the next 50 years.

Get in touch to discuss community engagement opportunities