Responsible business has become a key topic in 2016 with corporate statements for compliance, the Modern Slavery Act, and establishing ways of working to enable supply chains to be more transparent and compliant with new legislation. At Simons, we have Developments, Design and Construction business units, so working on the initial planning stages of a scheme means that considering the local impact of our work is imperative.
With the business being as values-led as it is, being a responsible business is part of our way of our working; not just good for us, as individuals and our surrounding audiences, but it’s good for business. We have started to really engage with our supply chain about risks of forced labour and monitoring the workforce for the right to work in the UK. But we’ve also found that many smaller companies in the construction sector are already struggling with the administrative burdens of certification and pre-qualifications to the many schemes demanded of them by us, our construction industry sector and our customers, not to mention the direct and associated costs involved.
These issues address a global market for construction materials and the labour needed to manufacture, fabricate and deliver them to site. That’s all very well in the global aspect, but every stage of that supply chain journey has a local context. For us, it’s the construction site, the people and businesses who have to accept the traffic, increased footfall and potential disruption that are our focus.
We believe there are three key aspects to ensuring that we are responsible business that delivers locally; management, communication, and validation.
Management, communication, and validation
At Simons, we have put in place managed procedures to prevent and mitigate nuisance, such as noise or dust, inconsiderate parking, or harm to the natural environment. We also believe that being accessible to deal with comments good, bad and ugly in a prompt and courteous way is also essential, even when they are spurious or actually in relation to another contractor. Just being available to answer questions about the future development is helpful. It is an invaluable customer service function for a wide variety of stakeholders, from hosting nursery school children getting the chance to watch diggers to elderly residents needing a hand with some fence maintenance. The community start to have a sense of ownership for the new development and our staff gain personal development of their skills too. Communication also extends online to enable a wider audience than just immediate neighbours to feel involved.
We are also very proud at Simons to be associate members of the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS). You’ve probably seen their banners on site hoardings nationwide. The CCS provide a monitoring service to help the construction sector maintain and improve standards in the appearance and impression the public receive. We set ourselves the challenging target of consistently scoring ahead of the associate member average.
Carried into the local community
Like pebbles thrown into a pond, acts of kindness ripple outwards to touch many. Every employee has a back story; salary spent in the community, children influenced by role models. This is now a measurable indicator thanks to the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. Exploring social value and the genuine worth or the difference between a job, a secure job and a secure job with bags of vocational training, opportunities to volunteer and great work life balance may be in the region of £10,000. Meanwhile relief from anxiety and depression, good overall health and family life could be worth more than £50,000 to society. Businesses have a massive part to play in making this possible. Getting this part right may be the most important foundation of being a responsible business. It’s worth remembering that charity that begins at home will be all the more powerful, because it’s carried into the local community to your business by your own people.