Views from our independent advisors
A view from Dame Julia Cleverdon
Last year’s report heralded Carillion’s new and ambitious 2020 strategy, centred on six positive outcomes. In this year’s report, I believe we are beginning to see some clear results and impact on the ground across the growing global business: the Middle East and Canadian businesses are already illustrating innovation and improvement in their sustainability performance.
Translating the strategy into action this year has shown us that achieving community needs plans across all our contracts is in sight. With suppliers, Carillion is also increasing the focus on sustainability performance. On the diversity agenda, there is some evidence of translating diversity talk into action. Strengthening the talent pipeline of senior women is a priority.
Although much remains to be done it is heartening that our sustainability track record is helping to win work and contracts! Some – like the Birmingham Green Deal – will give Carillion the chance to test and validate new approaches to community impact. Carillion’s pioneering secondments of talented young leaders into Balsall Heath – all those years ago – is now being replicated in a massive programme of Business Connectors by Business in the Community.
The engagement of employees in the sustainability journey has been particularly exciting this year with so many examples generated out of the S Factor competition, launched during Sustainability Week, illustrating the critical importance of employees at the front line developing innovative and ingenious solutions.
Richard Howson’s new leadership of the Sustainability Committee has seen a forceful determination to relish challenge, transfer best practice, and ensure that line managers across the different businesses are clear that this is a non-negotiable agenda. It has been a challenging year but progress on implementing and communicating the sustainability strategy is encouraging.
Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO, CBE
Vice President of Business in the Community and Special Advisor to The Prince‘s Charities
A view from Jonathon Porritt
When you hear that Carillion has around 2,000 young people involved in training and apprenticeships at any one time (more than any of its competitors), and that 74% of those young people end up in full-time employment, what does that say to you?
I hope it says a lot. Like the vast majority of people concerned about the state of our economy today, youth unemployment looms very large on my list of ‘get it sorted’ challenges for the politicians. Even in Canada, youth unemployment is running at around 15%. And even in the Middle East, where economic growth is still very high (by our standards in the UK), it’s hugely worrying how few young people can automatically assume that their years of education will lead to a reasonable job.
This is just one of multiple issues where it can reasonably be argued that ‘the system’ is failing. For better or worse, the ‘good guys’ in the corporate sector are being asked to step deeper and deeper into the breach. Personally, I’m not sure how sensible this is in the long term, but we’d clearly be in an even worse state without those corporate contributions.
There need be no illusions here: Carillion knows why it does what it’s doing here, and why there’s such a sound business case for everything it does. On governance issues, management systems, employee involvement, risk and opportunity analysis and stakeholder engagement, I know of few companies that have built a better case for out-performing on the full range of social, environmental and ethical issues.
But that’s clearly not enough. If all of Carillion’s endeavours were to be multiplied a thousand-fold, across the economy as a whole, that equally clearly wouldn’t be enough. We shouldn’t go on asking companies like Carillion simply to do more and more every year; we should really be working out how best to change the system.
Founder Director of Forum for the Future