June 11, 2013 11:51 pm

Awards 2013: Honours aim to bridge the skills gap

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If this year’s results of the Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards are any indication of what companies see as their most pressing social responsibility, then helping fight unemployment – particularly among youth and disadvantaged people – is high on the corporate agenda.

The BITC awards – launched by the UK charity in 1997 – reward companies’ performance with a “Big Tick”, with some of these companies submitted for judging to identify an overall winner in each category.* It is perhaps no surprise that employability and skill building are a major focus in this year’s awards. UK unemployment is at almost 8 per cent and the jobless rate for those aged 16-24 at more than 20 per cent – and yet many groups still find it hard to fill their skills gaps.

The awards reflect this. For example, the Work Inclusion Award – recognising businesses that help disadvantaged people into employment or increase their employability – attracted the second-highest number of applications (after the Responsible Business of the Year award).

And the desire to promote employability cuts across sectors. Big Tick winners in this category range from law firms, such as Freshfields and Pinsent Masons, to the Wates Group – one of the UK’s largest building and construction companies – and the Hyde Group, a social housing provider.

“A lot of companies have highlighted the need to invest in youth and tackle unemployment by educating them in life skills,” says Kerry Perkins, BITC awards manager.

Of course, the awards also reflect BITC’s own agenda. The organisation has long worked to encourage companies to play a bigger role in everything from increasing workplace diversity to promoting employability and skills.

Programmes focused on the workplace include Work Inspiration, in which companies strive to give young people a stimulating first experience of the working world, and Opportunity Now, which aims to increase women’s success in the workplace.

Greater focus has been given to employability this year. For example, the Education Award rewards long-term partnerships between businesses and schools that inspire young people to build successful careers. Big Tick winners in this award category include Jaguar Land Rover, whose partnerships with schools are designed to awaken students’ interest in engineering, science and technology, while also addressing the UK’s shortage of skilled engineers.

Binding the awards more closely with BITC’s programmes has proved fruitful for the organisation when it comes to the results. This year has seen an increase of 13 per cent in companies receiving Big Ticks over the previous year. Some award results reveal a strategic evolution in companies’ approaches.

Ms Perkins cites the Enterprise Growth award, a new category that rewards businesses for supporting small enterprises.

“Even though it’s the first year for that award, the big finding is that companies are moving away from simple mentoring to helping small business access large supply chains to focus on job creation and growth,” she says.

BITC is also adapting the awards to reflect new approaches, such as the growing recognition that environmental and social issues are closely interlinked.

* This year, 107 companies have achieved a Big Tick award and nine have won a CommunityMark award. From among the Big Tick winners, 59 companies have been shortlisted for selection as overall winner in their category, with the winners to be announced at the Royal Albert Hall on July 2, and published in the Financial Times on July 3. www.bitc.org.uk/awards


Big Ticks: Companies – large and small – that can demonstrate they make a difference in society

The Big Ticks are awarded to companies whose programmes are the best examples of business as a force for good. This year 107 entries have received a new Big Tick, and nine have won a CommunityMark award. The 59 Big Tick winning companies marked with an asterisk went forward to judging panels to find the overall winner in each category. These will be published in the Financial Times on July 3, 2013. For more information, go to www.bitc.org.uk/awards

Asda Enterprise Growth Award

Recognises larger businesses that support smaller ones in accessing their supply chains to help them expand their businesses and drive local economic growth and regeneration.

* Goldman Sachs International

* Star Pubs & Bars (part of the Heineken Company)

* Santander UK

* The Co-operative Group

* Wates Group

Bupa Workwell Award

For businesses that are increasing the health and engagement of employees.

* BT Group

* Diageo NI

* Marks & Spencer

* Prudential UK & Europe

* UK Power Networks

Citi International Award

For businesses using financially sustainable models to address the UN Millennium Development Goals.

* Barclays

* LeapFrog Investments

* Tata Consultancy Services

* The Body Shop

* The Co-operative Group

Customer Engagement on Sustainability Award

Another addition, this recognises businesses that encourage consumers to live more sustainable lifestyles both through the products and services they offer and by influencing the way that customers use them.

* B&Q

* Coca-Cola Enterprises

* EH Booth & Co

* EDF Energy

Dairy Crest Rural Action Award

This recognises businesses that support rural economies, encouraging the demand for local produce and investing in young people.

* Dalehead Foods

* East of England Co-operative Society

* Moy Park

* Rabbie’s Trail Burners

Inspiring Social Action in Young People Award

Recognising businesses that enable young people aged between 10-20 to bring about positive change in their communities through practical action in the service of others.


* EDF Energy

* Jobsite UK

* Telefónica O2 UK

* The Co-operative Group

Education Award

Emphasises partnerships between businesses and schools that focus on long-term needs, this award recognises businesses building employability skills in young people, inspiring young people on the Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) agenda.

BNP Paribas CSC

Family Investments

* Gentoo Group

* Jaguar Land Rover

* Nationwide Building Society

* Pearson

* Rothschild

* Wates Group


Prudential UK & Europe

Warings Contractors

Jaguar Land Rover Marketplace Sustainability Leadership Award

New award for businesses transforming their products and services by building short- and long-term environmental, social and economic trends into supply chains, marketing efforts and core decision making.

3M United Kingdom

* Dairy Crest


* EH Booth & Co

* Lubrizol Corporation

* Speedy Services

Responsible Business of the Year Award

For large businesses that have adapted their strategies so that their products, services and employees can build resilient communities and environmentally sustainable practices. This is open only to Business in the Community member companies that have attained Platinum Big Tick level in the CR (corporate responsibility) index in the current or previous year.

Alliance Boots

* Anglian Water

Anglo American



Costain Group

Dairy Crest

EDF Energy

Hallmark Cards

Heathrow Airport

Heineken UK

Kier Group



Legal & General Group

* Dairy Crest

Lloyds Banking Group

* J Sainsbury

* Jaguar Land Rover

Marks & Spencer

Manchester Airport Group

* Northumbrian Water Group


National Grid


Premier Farnell


Tata Consultancy Services

The Co-operative Group

The Crown Estate

United Utilities

Veolia Water UK

Wates Group

Santander Responsible Small Business of the Year Award

Recognises small and medium businesses that demonstrate a holistic approach to business responsibility and sustainability with respect to communities, markets and workforces.


Greater London Hire

* Ipswich Building Society

* Lakehouse

* Memset

* SiteVisibility

Sustainable Supply Chain Award

For groups that are incorporating transformation, impact and innovation into their supply chains to develop a more sustainable business model.


* Dairy Crest

* BHP Billiton

* Waitrose

Work Inclusion Award

This recognises businesses that help disadvantaged people into employment and improve their employability.

Affinity Sutton


Circle Housing Group



Kier Services

Marks & Spencer

Norse Commercial Services

* Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

* The Hyde Group

* Pinsent Masons

* Wates Group

Workplace Talent and Skills Award

For businesses that are maintaining a pipeline of young people, developing the skills their businesses need in the young that they hire and intend to hire, and retaining talent through engagement and lifelong training.

Diageo NI

Lincolnshire Co-operative

* Gi Group Recruitment

* JN Bentley

* Norton Rose Fulbright

* ScottishPower

* Veolia Environmental Services (UK)

CommunityMark Award

This award – which open only to UK groups – recognises businesses that have developed an integrated, strategic approach to community investment and are making a measurable difference to communities.

British Gas

Capgemini UK

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group

John Laing


Liverpool Football Club


Wates Group

Workspace Group

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