THURSDAY 10 JUL 2014 12:56 PM


At the 17th annual Responsible Business Awards, run by Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince of Wales, president of Business in the Community, said, "One of the biggest differences the corporate sector can make, is the development of the skills needed to fill the skills gaps and create the employment and economic independence that enable individuals to contribute fully to the community in which they live."

That call to action encompasses one of BITC’s central objectives – to act in the name of the social good in a way that benefits business as well. The awards drew 1,400 to the Royal Albert Hall to see the 13 winners showcase the best in responsible business. Winners were selected from over 150 companies that have made youth unemployment, sustainability and wellbeing a priority, as nominated by BITC.

National Grid was named Responsible Business of the Year due to its commitment to sustainable energy usage. The infrastructure provider, had formerly highlighted its function as its business purpose when communicating about CSR and internally. Since the shift to a purpose-led CSR strategy, the company has seen enhanced results in terms of brand awareness as well as a stronger commitment to its sustainability goals.

Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, says, “We invest time and energy working with young people today, making sure they understand the amazing world of engineering and energy, and are inspired to come into this fantastic sector. We’re responsible for inspiring the next generation of talent to make sure they are in place to keep the lights on and the gas flowing for our society, long into the future.”

Three of the awards focused on the next generation and inspiring young people and employees to become more engaged with responsible business issues. EE, which took home the Inspiring Young Talent award marked a 50% reduction in early attrition rates as a result of its apprentice scheme. Mental health in the workplace has recently become a key issue for companies seeking to become more efficient but to also ensure the wellbeing and engagement of their employees.

Prince Charles also appointed an individual honour upon CEO of Marks & Spencer, Marc Bolland, as the Prince’s National Ambassador for Responsible Business. M&S has a history of effective sustainability and CSR programmes. To read more about its Plan A project to encourage clothes recycling and waste reduction, click here.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Responsible Business of the Year – recognising large businesses that have adapted their business strategy so that their products, services and people build resilient communities and more sustainable futures.

Winner: National Grid – Responsible Business Award

Santander Responsible Small Business of the Year – recognising small and medium sized businesses demonstrating a holistic responsible approach to business; within the community, marketplace sustainability and amongst their workforce.

Winner: Novus Property Solutions Ltd – The Novus Sustainable Programme

Asda Enterprise Growth Award – recognising businesses that engage, support and do business with small and medium enterprises to drive local economic growth.
Winner – small company: Camden Town Unlimited – Collective project

Winner – large company: Blakemore Fine Foods – Heart Distribution Producer programme

Building Stronger Communities Award – recognising partnerships between businesses and community organisations that successfully address a key social issue and make a lasting impact.

Winner: New Charter Housing Trust Group – Inspire: Integrated Family Services 

Bupa Workwell Engagement and Wellbeing Award – recognising businesses that are improving the wellness and engagement of their employees.

Winner: Gentoo – Employee Wellbeing: Happy, Healthy and Here (HHH)

Dairy Crest Rural Action Award – recognising businesses that support rural communities to maintain a vibrant, sustainable rural economy.

Winner: WM Morrison Supermarkets plc – Morrisons Farming Programme

Education Award, supported by UKCES – recognising businesses that are building sustainable partnerships with schools in the UK, to raise aspirations of young people to enable them to build successful working lives.

Winner: EDF Energy and Okehampton College

Engaging Customers on Sustainability Award, supported by How on Earth – recognising businesses that use their marketing activity to inspire and enable people to live more sustainable lifestyles.

Winner: Anglian Water Services – Love Every Drop – Keep it Clear 

Inspiring Young Talent Award  – recognising businesses that address youth unemployment and the UK skills gap by using either 'youth friendly' recruitment practices, inspiring work experience programmes or accessible routes to successful working lives such as apprenticeships.

Winner: EE – EE Apprenticeship Programme

International Disaster Relief Award, supported by the Department for International Development

Winner: UPS Humanitarian Relief Programme – recognising businesses that can demonstrate positive disaster relief action in the immediate aftermath of international disasters.

Sustainable Products and Services Awards  – recognising businesses that are embedding environmental sustainability into core products or services, as well as the processes used to produce or develop them.
Winner: Lakes Free Range Egg Company Ltd – environmentally friendly egg production

Unilever International Award, supported by Business Fights Poverty (new award) – recognising businesses that can demonstrate positive impact against one or more of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Winner – small company: Glasgow Caledonian University – Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing

Winner – large company: GlaxoSmithKline – 20% Reinvestment 

Work Inclusion Award – recognising businesses that help disadvantaged people into employment and/or improve their employability skills.

Winner: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP – Ready for Work