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Corporate responsibility is as important as ever in difficult times

Another year, another set of industry metrics – but what do this year’s Corporate Responsibility Index results tell us about where we’ve been and where we’re going as an industry?

At a time of squeezed margins, with contractors seeking to make themselves more competitive than ever, what relevance does the index have for those grappling with smaller order books and a reduced pipeline?

First, as a benchmark that recognises long-term prudence and innovation in the field of sustainability, the index is a uniquely transparent way of charting progress across the sector.

In short, it provides a useful opportunity for best practice leaders across the industry to share knowledge and innovation through a comparative and transparent approach.

The results of this year’s index

What is most striking about this year’s results is the level of commitment to instituting responsible business practices, with an average score of 89 per cent awarded to participating companies.

Contractors and support service providers featured prominently on this year’s list, with 15 companies across both sectors making an appearance.

Eleven of these organisations have improved their position year on year, with just five companies across the entire index achieving the coveted Platinum Tick status.

“The overall corporate responsibility picture is a positive one, with contractors making the list continuing to invest in a wide range of initiatives”

At a time of well-documented gloom across the sector the overall corporate responsibility picture is a positive one, with contractors that made the list continuing to invest in a wide range of initiatives that put responsible business practices right at the heart of the sector.

To take just two examples, last year we invested £1m in learning and development for our employees, a move that took place alongside an ongoing commitment to reducing onsite waste. In all, 96 per cent of non-hazardous waste was diverted to landfill last year.

Putting the index to good use

So, what does the index mean for the sector? It is a great chance for construction to devise practical ways of overcoming some of the key challenges.

Opportunities to combine commercial nous with a positive approach to local communities must be grasped with both hands by contractors.

For a start, putting education at the forefront of their agenda is not only desirable but imperative, as construction seeks to secure its pipeline of talent for the future and sow the seeds of future investment.

By recognising the importance of environmental management, sustainability and the responsible sourcing of materials, the index not only provides an impetus on the industry to reflect on what it’s achieved, but also on ways in which it can raise the bar even higher.

Rachel Woolliscroft is sustainability director at Wates Group

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