Company wants to have transformational impact on lives

Willmott Dixon has trebled the number of young lives it aims to help after achieving its ambition to improve 3,000 young lives by 2015. It’s increasing that number to 10,000 by 2020 as part of its ethos to make long-lasting impacts that strengthen society’s well-being.

The company’s activities since 2013 to support young people have been far-reaching and include providing mentoring to 1,948 people on job finding skills like interview techniques and CV writing, plus work experience placements to a further 1,293 - with 317 lasting over six weeks. Willmott Dixon employees also helped 75 young people learn to read through long-term ‘reading buddies’ initiatives.

Group chief executive Rick Willmott said: “I believe our company has a purpose beyond profit and, with its scale, an opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change. We wanted to focus our company–wide efforts and activities on helping make a difference to young people at a crucial time in their lives.

Unlike other targets of its kind, Willmott Dixon does not measure its work on financial cost, number of apprenticeships or hours accrued but on whether its initiatives have actually had a positive impact on individual lives.

The Willmott Dixon Foundation manages and monitors all activity to assess whether the outcome has improved someone’s opportunity in life. Its head Alison Symmers said:

“Each part of the business contributes with activities that support our goal and they are backed up by a rigorous procedure to measure whether that initiative has made an impact to improving and even enhancing a young person’s life.”

To measure how a life has been improved, Willmott Dixon created a system to assess the impact on a life for each activity. For example, giving work to a previously unemployed young person is regarded as transformational and counts as one point towards the target, while an in-depth one-to-one interview skills learning opportunity, improves the individual’s chances rather than transforming them, so this would count as one-third of a point. What is not counted are interventions such as giving careers talks to large gatherings, as these, by themselves, don’t make enough of a difference.

Rick continued, “I’m immensely proud of how the combined efforts of thousands of our people have enabled us to make a lasting impact on young lives that directly supports society’s well-being and prosperity. It goes to the very heart of our DNA that we can leave a legacy of positive change.” More examples of how we improve lives are in the film introduced by Rick.

Last year, Willmott Dixon’s approach to making a real impact on the wellbeing of society was outlined by its report, ‘Social Value – taking full account of a company’s true impact’, which defined the role of social value and how it enables the business sector to play a key role in supporting a region’s strategy for economic growth.