Celebrating success for business and the environment
This week I attended our 2017 Awards Gala Dinner. Always an inspiring event where the very best of responsible business is celebrated, what I found most encouraging last night was the focus on the environment across all areas.
The theme of the evening, sponsored by Veolia, 2016 Responsible Business of the Year, was the real opportunities to upskill people, create jobs and generate wealth by making the best use of resources in the circular economy.
Across many categories, from education to global development the same issues kept coming up; that in a drive towards becoming truly responsible and resilient business, companies are embedding environmental action at the heart of their work. Anglian Water Group and We are Vista, the newly crowned large and small Responsible Business of the Year 2018, have a clear focus on embedding action on carbon, water, waste and biodiversity and are engaging their value chains to catalyse a step change in how their organisations, industry and wider stakeholders deliver shared value.
What stood out most to me, was how some of the awards focused on creating social value, are simultaneously solving environmental challenges. The Building Stronger Communities Award was won by Tesco’s Community Connection project, distributing surplus food and contributing to tackling our food waste problem. The Award for Building Resilient Business was won by Adler and Allan for their long-term response and support to communities affected by flooding. The UBS Education Award winners, Dragon LNG and Esh Group both focus on STEM and using innovative ways, including engaging with the natural environment, to inspire young people into STEM careers. The Unilever Global Development Award recognised Sunny Money and Water Health International for supporting vulnerable communities in Africa and India to access clean energy and water. The Award for Responsible Business in a Digital Age illustrated how Unipart is embracing digital technology to bring the 4th Industrial Revolution to life; realising operation efficiencies and saving waste and energy, while Parcelly have used digital technology to significantly reduce the number of vans and carbon footprint associated with their delivery services.
It was also interesting to see that the Environmental Leadership Award, won by National Grid had a strong value chain approach and showed how embedding low carbon thinking has real business benefits for customers and suppliers alike, saving money and building resilience, so demonstrating that an environmental focus has good economic outcomes, a theme also reflected by the small business winners of this award, The Lakes Free Range Egg Company.
It was really heartening to see the coming together of social, environmental and economic value into holistic initiatives which are making a real difference to society and showing how responsible business delivers strong commercial returns. These awards are peer assessed, so this emerging focus on embedding the environment at the heart of business is clearly recognised and valued in businesses across the board. All the finalists deserve huge congratulations and I hope this trend continues to grow. Onwards and upwards.
Gudrun Cartwright is Business in the Community's environment directorBusiness in the Community