Two firms from the West of England are celebrating today after making it onto the shortlist for the most prestigious and respected awards programme championing responsible business in the UK and abroad.
Driven by the charity Business in the Community (BITC), HRH The Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network, the 2016 Responsible Business Awards celebrate inspiring examples of businesses that are making a significant difference by taking action to improve their local communities, create more inclusive workplaces and tackle environmental challenges.
Today’s announcement coincides with the start of Responsible Business Week (18-22 April 2016), an annual campaign to increase awareness of and showcase the positive contribution made by businesses up and down the country to society.
Blue Badge Company, based in Montpelier, Bristol, has been shortlisted for the Employment for Excluded Groups Award, while Swindon-based Nationwide Building Society has been shortlisted for BITC’s Responsible Business of the Year Award.
Blue Badge Company, which makes covers for disabled parking permits, has introduced an Inclusive Employment Initiative (IEI), dedicated to directly employing disabled people and those with limited work options, such as primary caregivers or people with mental health issues. The IEI has enabled the company to recruit and train people with learning and physical disabilities, which breaks the cycle of unemployment and gives employees the satisfaction of contributing to a productive team.
Ellen Green, Founder & Managing Director of Blue Badge Company, explained: “I really believe that a company is only as strong as the team behind it. The one thing that has driven me the most is the idea that business has a responsibility to be good for society and I’ve discovered that a rewarding, sustainable job can change someone’s life. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s the part of my company that I am most proud of.”
In partnership with Macmillan, Nationwide deliver a Specialist Support Service for customers affected by cancer. Since September 2015, 650 customers have been supported by the service and more than 150 have been referred back to Macmillan, leading to more than £85,000 worth of additional benefits and grants. Nationwide is now extending the service to other vulnerable customers, including those with heart disease and mental incapacity.
Nationwide also supports the military community in tackling commercial disadvantage. For example, through the creation of specific mortgage offerings that can switch between residential and letting when military personnel are posted, developing an Armed Forces Housing Guide, delivering master classes on military bases and recruiting former Armed Forces personnel.
Graham Beale, Chief Executive at Nationwide, said: “We take our broader responsibility to society seriously and set ourselves some ambitious targets in 2012 when we launched our ‘Living on your side’ five year citizenship strategy. I am delighted that we are more than delivering against them and making a real difference to local communities.”
Raksha Pattni, Area Director West, Business in the Community, said: “I’d like to congratulate the shortlisted companies in the South West who clearly demonstrate that business has a greater purpose then simply generating profit and are a great example to others. We look forward to celebrating their success and the very best of business as a powerful force for good in the region at our South West Responsible Business Gala Dinner on 14 June.”
Shortlisted companies will be recognised at the South West Responsible Business Gala Dinner sponsored by PwC and Mitie, and taking place on the 14 June at St George’s in Bristol. The companies chosen as finalists will then be invited to BITC’s Annual Responsible Business Gala at the O2 in London on 11 July, hosted by Fujitsu (2015 Responsible Business of the Year).
The headline sponsors of the 2016 Responsible Business Awards are Asda, Bupa, Experian, Fujitsu, Hogan Lovells, M&S, Samworth Brothers, Unilever, Unipart Group and UPS.
For more information on the Awards, visit www.bitc.org.uk/awardstories and follow @BITC on Twitter #BITCawards.
Pictured above: Raksha Pattni, Area Director West for Business in the Community