Caroline Hooley, National Grid’s Corporate Responsibility & Sponsorships Manager, explains why Responsible Business Week (31st March – 4th April) is a good fit for some of the priorities that drive National Grid and its employees.
“I hope that by the end of this special week our employees, customers and business partners will all have gained a greater awareness about what we do as a responsible business.”
Caroline Hooley, National Grid’s Corporate Responsibility & Sponsorships Manager
National Grid has set tough targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are a direct result of its operational activities by 80% by 2050
Source: National Grid policy brief
Operating responsibly is at the heart of everything we do, and we believe it makes sound business sense for National Grid to act responsibly towards employees, customers, investors and the communities we serve.
We take corporate responsibility seriously, which is very much reflected in the focus areas of our new strategy: Making Connections: Inspiring for the future, Designing for the future and Preserving for the future. These themes fit very well with the aims of Responsible Business Week, which are to inspire and challenge organisations to act more responsibly.
Here are just a few practical examples of how we aim to operate as a responsible business.
Inspiring for the future
Inspiring more young people to consider a career in engineering is a major passion for us, and something that will help our industry to meet a growing skills shortage. To this end, we arrange visits to our sites and work experience programmes that currently engage around 7,000 students each year. We are heavily involved with the Imagineering and Big Bang Fair events that reach more than 70,000 pupils. And we have recently established Careers Lab, an exciting pilot scheme that offers a new way of delivering careers advice in schools, with the aim of bridging the gap between education and the workplace.
Designing for the future
We can also be a more responsible business by helping to develop innovative technologies that deliver smart, sustainable energy for everyone. For example, we have been working closely with venture capital firms to support emerging technology businesses, in order to see what exciting opportunities they can create, and gauge whether they can offer clean, reliable, resilient, affordable and safe innovation that will serve a practical purpose for our own corporate strategy.
Preserving for the future
We want to make a major contribution towards protecting our planet and preserving our diminishing resources.
This contribution includes setting ourselves tough targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are a direct result of our operational activities by 80% by 2050.
In addition, being positive about resources calls for new ideas on how we source, design, use and reuse our assets. A purpose-built meter assessment and recycling centre in the UK is a pioneering example of refurbishing or recycling old meters rather than sending them to landfill.
Safeguarding the natural environment is another important priority for us as part of our sustainability strategy, and one way we work to achieve this is by entering partnerships with local communities and conservation groups – such as with the Humberside Industrial Nature Conservation Association – to enhance local eco-systems and boost biodiversity.
We all play a part
At a personal level, many of us within National Grid feel strongly about volunteering for important causes. The projects and initiatives we support often rely on the dedication and commitment of our employees. We’re delighted that Step Up To Serve, which aims to double the number of young people taking part in social action to more than 50 per cent by 2020, is proving such a great way for us to develop a culture of volunteering and community investment throughout the company.
Being a great place to work
At National Grid, we place great emphasis on fostering inclusion and diversity in our workforce. One positive response to this challenge has seen us appear in ‘The Times Top 50 Employers for Women’ list for the eighth year running. During International Women’s Day, meanwhile, our WiNG (Women in National Grid) group marked the occasion with special events and raised awareness among colleagues about gender imbalance in business.
Inclusion and diversity is an important benchmark that helps us to be an employer of choice. This in turn ensures we attract and retain people who are keen to act responsibly in their business and personal lives.
National Grid supporting Business in the Community
Responsible Business Week is organised by Business in the Community (BITC), an organisation we’re proud to have supported for many years.
Mike Westcott, National Grid’s Global Human Resources Director, is a member of the panel of advisers launching the week at the Barbican in London on 31st March. Kate van der Plank, National Grid’s Head of UK Community Action, is a guest speaker at a session on youth social action, at which she will share her experience supporting the Step Up To Serve campaign, a government-backed scheme that helped to set up.
Finally, Steve Holliday, National Grid’s Chief Executive Officer, is personally committed to BITC as its Vice Chairman. He is also a Trustee Director of The Prince’s Seeing is Believing programme, a BITC initiative that gives business leaders a first-hand insight into social and environmental issues.
As a long-standing BITC member, we’ve invested a lot of time and effort in various initiatives that have helped us to earn its commendation for our commitment to responsibility, inclusion and diversity.
In 2013, we were honoured to receive a ‘platinum big tick’ in the BITC Corporate Responsibility Index – another mark of our commitment to operating in a responsible way across our operation.
And that means, when we showcase our achievements during Responsible Business Week, we can offer these and more compelling examples that demonstrate our determination to do the responsible thing.