Nowadays, many companies are adopting a “purpose-driven” approach – but our commitment is not a recent phenomenon. Social value (or, as it was called in days gone by, charitable works) has been part of our culture since our business was established in 1852.
I am clear that Willmott Dixon has a purpose beyond profit, and the work we do through the Foundation gives us the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better, and leave a lasting legacy.
From providing work experience opportunities to refurbishing community buildings; from mentoring young people facing significant life challenges to organising events and fun days – over the years, social value is something that we’ve become known for. This is a testament to our people, who have made this happen. In 2018, a staggering 81% of our people took part in community activities, contributing over 45,000 hours of their time.
Contrary to what many people may think, being a purpose-driven business does not make us any less competitive: far from it. I believe that our commercial successes can be firmly linked to our culture. We know that our expertise in delivering social value helps us win work and build stronger relationships with our customers. But it’s more than that.
It helps us recruit the best people, at a time when the skills shortage is one of the biggest threats to our industry. A survey of our millennials found ‘working for an ethical employer’ to be top of their list of priorities when it came to choosing a job, and anecdotes from our recruitment team suggest that our focus on social value is a factor for many applicants.
It helps us grow our people. According to our most recent people survey, practically everyone who took part in community activities last year said they received some personal benefit – from developing new skills, such as leadership and communication, to the ‘feel-good’ factor of being able to make a positive contribution or difference to someone else’s life.
It helps us foster a culture of innovation. When we set our ambitious 2013-2020 target – to enhance the life chances of 10,000 young people – we didn’t have a detailed route-map to success. We presented our people with the challenge and asked them to come up with ideas. Their response and ingenuity has been amazing – we are now 89% there.
This Review celebrates what our people have done, and highlights the achievements of some of the individuals we worked with throughout the year – many of whom have shown considerable courage and perseverance to overcome personal challenges.