IN this day and age, businesses need to answer to two aspects of their operations. Firstly, the quality and efficiency of their management - in terms of both people and processes. Secondly, the nature and scale of their impact on society and the communities we live in.
This latter aspect is what we know as corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is the way in which companies manage the processes of their business to make their impact on society a positive one.
Our membership at North East Procurement (NEP), consisting of 13 registered social housing providers based all over the region, benefit from efficiencies in both of the above aspects of operations by putting works through our procurement organisation. The collective purchasing power means that they receive substantial cost efficiencies on projects as a given.
But we know that social responsibility and sustainability are both increasingly important factors for housing providers, for retrofit programmes. So this month, with support from the Homes and Communities Agency, we have launched a new framework for renewable product suppliers and installers, for members to be able to be responsible with green products while maintaining cost efficiency.
As well as being responsible from a green agenda point of view, all of our members recognise the need to support their communities beyond the provision of housing. NEP was created to bring efficiencies to modernisation and development programmes, but crucially was created with CSR and employability clauses embedded into the contracts.
For a contractor to attain work through NEP they must sign up to deliver employability and work placements, including local SMEs who can directly provide the greatest impact on communities.
In addition, our unique social fund – future sparks – generated from the combined procurement of members is used to give substantial grants to support social regeneration and employability initiatives.
With National Apprenticeship Week next week, we are proud of what we have achieved working in collaboration with our contractors to create 17 new apprentices in the year so far, and enabling a further 20 apprentices to be retained in their current placements.
The construction sector has been decimated by the economic climate with thousands left looking for work and the impacts of the downturn are still being felt, particularly in this region. A new business will need skilled people, but as they generally can’t afford to take on apprentices, it’s up to the established businesses to create these opportunities.
For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 374 0233 or email@example.com.