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FM’s ‘bigger picture’ increasingly includes the need for inclusion of CSR activity

09 May 2019

Following a notable increase in activities relating to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in recent years, PFM is continuing to engage with this topic in all areas of the brand.

With the subject featured in a number of articles, CSR has additionally been discussed on various levels by the PFM Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), explaining how these aspects are no longer just “nice to have” as they are more frequently seen to be an essential part of winning new, or extending existing contracts.

Further proof of how the FM industry is engaging with these topics can be seen within the PFM Partnership Awards, which has included CSR categories since 2017. Having proved popular with entrants in both the last two years, it has been included again for 2019 and has received numerous enquiries from potential entrants aiming to provide submissions by the 15 May deadline.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has proved highly popular as a discussion point within PFM live events, particularly in our dedicated initiative with Wates Smartspace and Chiswick Park in May 2018 and, most recently, at the popular seminar The Bigger Picture of Cleaning and Waste Management at The Cleaning Show in March.

Both of these used CSR as a central theme, looking at the subject on a standalone basis in our 2018 discussion, then from the perspective of how it sits within cleaning and waste management operations within our seminar last month.

Chiswick Park was a central element of PFM’s The Cleaning Show session, with a joint presentation between the park’s chief executive Matt Coulson and Principle Cleaning’s Sandrino Vieira explaining how collaboration and close working between the two sides had created bespoke solutions to cleaning and waste management.

Due to their success, these had increased interaction between those using the award-winning business park, which had been further extended to its neighbours and partners through numerous links with its wide-ranging CSR activities. Perhaps the most relevant point to consider from these discussions is the fact that clients and service providers are seeing how a combined effort in this area not only provides benefits to the partners, the facility in question and its users, but also to the wider community.

One of the most enthusiastically-received examples of this can be seen in the Overall Winner of the PFM Awards 2018, Dentons with Partnerships Matter. Having won the CSR category within last year’s PFM Partnership Awards, it was subsequently voted to receive the main prize by the independent judging panel, who described the initiative as something that the entire FM industry should seek to engage with and emulate.

Having been created as an alternative means of interaction between client and service providers – with the aim of moving away from the use of financial penalties when contractual KPIs were not met – the level of support for community projects can be seen to have increased as contributors now include supply chain members of Dentons’ service partners.

PFM readers attending this month’s The Facilities Event, located within Birmingham’s NEC, will have the benefit of hearing a presentation from two of the Partnerships Matter initiative’s co-directors in a dedicated session on the morning of 9 April, in our latest live event that features CSR as an important, central theme.

As with all PFM feature topics, we invited contributions from industry experts, asking how CSR clauses in FM contracts are developing, resulting in Tidyco head of marketing Barry Aldridge FCIM discussing the implementation of environmental tactics, which can also be used to form part of a wider CSR strategy.

He describes how ongoing collaboration with the company’s stakeholders has resulted in a radically fresh approach towards the subject of CSR: “Typically, health and safety (H&S) is associated with an evidence of risk and method statements, but; how about incorporating employee mental well-being into the H&S element of company policy?

“Of course, part of protecting staff welfare is by creating an environmentally friendlier built environment,” Mr Aldridge continues.

He states that environmental considerations are “of great importance” to his company, whereby the organisation has ensured that the Derby-based manufacturing plant is as energy efficient as possible.

Sophisticated LED lighting, solar panelled power and the installation of heat pump water heating solutions have contributed towards a saving of 9,650KWh and a reduction of six tonnes in carbon emissions.

The recent installation of electric car charging points has substantially helped, whereby the business now provides this as a service provision to commercial properties. An intelligent application of vehicle tracking and real time traffic monitoring not only reduces critical down time for the company’s customers but also allows for carbon reduction through eliminating unnecessary travel, Mr Aldridge explains.

The company’s Climate Control Division ensures that all HVAC installation work is as eco-friendly as it can possibly be, he says. Importantly, environmental initiatives not only protect staff but also enhance the communities within which it operates.

“We implement SMART objectives and KPIs throughout all environmental endeavours. It is beneficial to measure results in the same way you would any other business activity, such as; a reduction in emissions and staff sickness, or an increase in productivity and output,” Mr Aldridge concludes.

Further thoughts on this topic are provided by Sodexo corporate responsibility director Edwina Hughes, who states that businesses are increasingly recognising corporate responsibility (CR) as an important factor when awarding FM contracts.

“Beyond the delivery of food and FM services, integral to many contracts is the partner organisation’s approach to CR and we are finding that clients are looking for a partner organisation that can offer bespoke solutions which mirror their own vision, values and beliefs,” she says.

“Our CR approach, like that of other companies, recognises the issues which affect clients, customers, employees, suppliers and the environment in which we operate. It is based on our mission to improve the quality of life for our clients, customers and our employees,” she continues.

CR clauses in contracts are developing and now cover a wide range of areas from living wage, gender representation, SME support, health and safety through to food innovation and waste prevention, particularly in single use plastics.

“Having commitments and KPIs against your CR strategy is becoming the norm. Therefore, FM providers need to incorporate these commitments into the heart of their organisation.

"There is an opportunity for FM providers to incorporate these commitments into the way they do business and the products and services they sell,” says Ms Hughes.

With the comments above providing further confirmation of the need for all businesses to formulate their own CSR activities, while supporting those of their clients and other industry partners wherever possible, it can be seen that the subject is moving higher up the scale of importance and becoming an essential part of every company’s activities.

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