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Responsible business awards highlights construction companies’ commitment to responsible business

Award winning training and sustainability and employment campaigns recognised by Business in the Community.

The construction sector has swept the board at Business in the Community’s 14th Awards for Excellence. Wates Group Ltd has taken home the top accolade in the prestigious responsible business awards. The building and construction giant picked up the title of Company of the Year in association with Tomorrow’s Company for its innovative approach and commitment to addressing the critical sustainability challenges that their industry faces. In addition Lakehouse picked up the Example for Excellence Award for Skills in the Workplace and Lend Lease won in the Work Inclusion category for their work supporting people from excluded groups into employment.

Now in its 14th year, the Awards for Excellence is a prestigious annual showcase of the UK’s best responsible businesses in action. The Awards highlight the best examples of the positive impact businesses are having in the environment, amongst their employees, through the supply chains and in the local communities in which they operate.

The event was hosted by comedian Jack Dee and BBC broadcast presenter Mishal Hussain.

Wates Group was were recognised as Company of the Year for their long term commitment to sustainability dating back to 1974 with their work on the first zero carbon house. It continues today with their ‘Reshaping Tomorrow’ programme which includes the BRE ‘Rethinking Housing Refurbishment’ initiative. They transform the communities in which they operate by working with local schools to raise aspirations and build skills via apprenticeships and employability programmes.

Paul Drechsler, Chairman and Chief Executive, Wates Group said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious accolade. Corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices have always been a core part of the Wates’ ethos, which is summarised in our mantra: to make a lasting difference in the communities where we work. This award reflects the dedication of the people who have made this possible: our employees, clients, stakeholders, partners and all those who live in the communities we help to build."

Lakehouse started as a family run construction company 23 years ago. They have an innovative and inspiring skills strategy that is embedded in the business and the wider community. They established a new training strategy in 2007 to tie in with their business plan which included ensuring all staff have at least one NVQ 2 qualification. As a result the business has grown by 50% year on year over the past two financial years, which has only been possible by attracting talent and retaining existing employees.

Carol King, Human Resources Director, Lakehouse said: "We recognise that Lakehouse is nothing without its people, and that’s why we have invested heavily in the training and development of our workforce. Much of our success is down to the way in which we engage with our staff, ensuring that each individual feels part of the big picture, but with their own tailored training and development plan. This is supported by our Culture and Personal Development Manager, our staff representative group, and a robust and effective communication plan and appraisal/review system. In the current tough economic climate it’s even more important to give something back to staff, and training is a great way to do this. Training benefits our staff, and our business – a win win for all concerned."

Lend Lease were recognised for their work opening up the workplace to excluded groups. Their imnovative BeOnsite programme provides people from excluded groups with industry-relevant training and sustained employment within the property industry. To date, 3,000 have been supported through job brokerage, and over 50% of participants have remained in direct employment with BeOnsite for more than 6 months.

Val Lowman OBE, Chief Executive of BeOnsite (the Lend Lease employability programme) said: "We are delighted to have won the Norse Work Inclusion Award. Working with BITC is very important to us as it widens our partnership, develops our networks and as a result enables more people to access work and the opportunities that regeneration brings. Thank you Business in the Community!"

The title of Santander Small Company of the Year went to Maloney’s Budgens for their commitment to building corporate responsibility into the heart of their business and their communities.

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said: "Each year the Awards for Excellence showcases the most inspiring and impactful examples of corporate responsibility in action. Each of our winners displays a genuine commitment to continually improve their business practices and transform the communities in which they operate and do business. Our winners should be proud of their achievements particularly in these challenging times. They are taking a genuine stand to prove that doing business and doing good are not mutually exclusive concerns. We hope that by sharing their stories and successes, other companies will be challenged to place responsible business at the heart of their operation."

The 2011 Awards for Excellence event is sponsored by outgoing Company of the
Year Unilever.

Awards in numbers
With all national and regional award entries combined, BITC received 394 entries in 2011. 123 entries resulted in National Big Tick awards, and 65 of these were shortlisted for the Example of Excellence within their category. 87 companies had their 2009/2010 national Big Ticks reaccredited this year.

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