David Jennings, CEO of window and door hardware and security specialist, UAP Ltd, discusses the importance of corporate and social responsibility (CSR) in building a company that people are proud to work for and eager to work with.
Business leaders often say that people are their greatest asset, but treating people – employees, customers, supply chain partners and the wider community – as individuals with value means living and breathing that concept it in every aspect of the way a company operates and behaves.
It’s an ethos that has been at the heart of UAP since the business could count its members of staff on the fingers of one hand. It makes me feel proud to know that we do the right thing but CSR is much more than a warm fuzzy feeling: it has tangible commercial value because it supports recruitment, retention of talent, and staff motivation and wellbeing. It also ensures we have supply chain partners who prioritise us and customers who return to us, delivering a robust value chain in which we all share.
Taking Care of the Team
Our team works hard. From the boardroom to the warehouse and everywhere in between, everyone feels invested in doing a good job and helping to grow the business.
There has always been the opportunity to impress and progress at UAP. Several of our leadership team began their UAP career in a more junior role and personalised training plans and the ability to move across departments are an essential part of how we keep talent within the business. We motivate people to be their best self and reward achievement. In 2019, we made the decision to become a cooperative, so everyone benefits financially from our collective success too.
But it’s not all about careers and remuneration. People are much more than the role they do at work so our people strategy considers what they need beyond training and their pay packet. During the pandemic, the need to consider how we support out team was more urgent than ever. We not only did everything possible to keep them safe, such as creating bubbles for site staff, doing on site testing and providing PPE, we also provided online yoga sessions and opportunities for homeworking colleagues to interact in the virtual space. Now that homeworking teams are returning to site, we’re creating an on-site doggy daycare facility in one of our warehouses, which will be staffed by a trained dog sitter and enable our team to visit their dog during the day while ensuring their pet is cared for and entertained. Taking care of what matters to our employees is all part of supporting them.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility are a huge part of our CSR goals and an area where we have invested to drive best practice. We generate enough of our own renewable energy to make us virtually self-sufficient, we are working towards being 100% virgin plastics free, using biodegradable or marine reclaim materials where plastic is needed, and we actively source recycled and recyclable materials, shredding old packaging material for re-use as infill packaging.
Increasingly, customers want to see tangible evidence of what their suppliers are doing to minimise environmental impact and operate ethically and sustainably. It’s something that’s always been important to UAP so we are ahead of the curve. Over the years we have planted more than 50,000 trees in Thailand to aid CO2 absorption and we are constantly looking for ways in which we can take positive actions that reduce waste. For example, we now use 3-D printing to make prototypes before full production, preventing material wastage during product development
It’s always inspiring to see people raise money for charity and the concept of ‘giving back’ is something that lies right at the heart of UAP company culture. We have been instrumental in the construction of five community schools in Nepal and support charities at home and abroad including, Cash 4 Kids, The Red Cross, The Encephalitis Society and Macmillan Cancer Care, along with local junior sports teams. During the pandemic, we sourced PPE supplies from the far east, and have donated thousands of masks, gloves and aprons to local charities and community groups to help keep people safe.
It may all seem like nice-to-have additions to the core disciplines of running a business but every business is powered by the loyalty of its team and its customers. Our CSR commitment helps us inspire that loyalty while delivering value far beyond our balance sheet.