Four mutuals have reached the finals of the 2015 Responsible Business Awards, run by Business in the Community.
Central England Co-operative, East of England Co-op, Midcounties Co-operative and Nationwide Building Society have all received finalists trophies, with the overall category winners being announced at a Gala dinner on 7 July in London.
Central England is a finalist for the Inspiring Young Talent Award, through its partnership with students at a school for special needs. Judges noted that SENse to Aspire gave 151 students with learning difficulties work placements and support, increasing their confidence and career aspirations.
In 2014, the society also provided employment for 817 young people aged 16-24, an increase of 82% on 2013. Working with young people also reduced recruitment costs by £90,000, and the success rate of quality employees was also increased.
The society was also shortlisted, but not announced as a finalist, in the Enterprise Growth Award for its Saffron Acres project, which has helped to sustain 12 acres of allotments by enabling producers to sell their goods in stores.
East of England Co-operative reached the final of the Enterprise Growth Award for working with 140 local suppliers through its Sourced Locally initiative. Judges heard that the scheme had safeguarded over 300 jobs across the region and put more than £34m back into the local economy. In 2014, turnover of products reached £15m, a 21% increase on the previous year.
An extension of the initiative also included Deli To Go, which was introduced in more than 30 stores, supplying 100% local produce, boosting sales and reducing waste.
Midcounties Co-operative was named as a finalist in the Sustainable Products and Services category for its group-wide operational sustainability programme. The society told judges that it achieved an “impressive return on investment” that has seen it reduce operational energy consumption by 10% since 2009, save over 5,000 tonnes of CO2 and achieve £1m per annum in operational eco efficiency gains.
The co-operative also increased recycling of operational waste by nearly five times in five years (to 4,135 tonnes in 2013) and increased recycling rate from 21% in 2009 to 75% in 2013.
It was also shortlisted for the Building Stronger Communities Award by allowing 550 employees to volunteer across the community, as well as supporting 40 foodbank schemes through donations of 8,000 items and by installing defibrillators in three stores.
Nationwide has been shortlisted with five other organisations for Sustainable Business of the Year award. BiTC said it had selected Nationwide because of its five-year citizenship strategy, Living on your side, which aims to address some of the pressing social challenges that most matters to its members.
The strategy focuses on four areas, which include a target to help 750,000 move into their own home that includes a partnership with homelessness charity Shelter; a numeracy skills programme; a pledge to invest £15m in communities; and a commitment to run the business in an ethical and responsible way.
The mutual was also shortlisted for a Schools Partnership Award after developing a range of interactive programmes to improve numeracy amount 26,000 children in 193 schools.
In this year’s awards, the Co-operative Group was also shortlisted, but not announced as a finalist, in the Global Development Award for its own-brand bottled water initiative. Through a partnership with The One Foundation, sales of Fairbourne Springs water has seen over 750 water pumps installed across 11 different sub-Saharan countries. This has helped to improve sanitation and good hygiene practices.
- The awards ceremony takes place on 7 July at the Royal Albert Hall, to read more about the awards visit: http://www.bitc.org.uk/services/awards-recognition/responsible-business-awards