Being awarded five stars in the CR Index is a major achievement and this year a number of companies have managed it. We caught up with Midcounties co-operative to learn first hand why it's important to their organisation to benchmark their sustainability strategy and performance.
What does it mean to your company to be awarded 5 stars in our Corporate Responsibility Index?
As the largest independent co-operative in the UK we’re an ambitious business built on the strong ethical principles that guide co-operatives all over the globe – every day we’re working to make a lasting difference in the communities in which we operate. This award recognises the way our members, colleagues and customers have come together to help us achieve this. It’s a clear badge showing our commitment to responsible business practices, and one that we’re proud to wear.
We’re even more proud to be one of only a small number of business to be awarded five stars this year. Whether offering a 100% green energy tariff in Co-operative Energy, Fair Tax payments or exceptional community investment – we strive to lead on truly sustainable development.
Why did you feel it was important to participate and to benchmark yourselves, and what will it mean for your organisation going forward?
Midcounties is proud to give back to the local community and so it’s important for us to make our members, customers and colleagues aware of our co-operative social responsibility work. The Business in the Community accreditation process scrutinises organisations down to the finest detail, using a strict framework to systematically measure their actions. We’ve therefore been able to quantify our impact using this framework, allowing us to share the results that we’re so proud of. For example, that our trading sites are powered by 100% green electricity (sourced from solar, wind or hydro renewable energy), or that we worked with more than 50 schools and higher education partners last year to engage with over 9,000 young people.
How do you actively seek to integrate responsible business principles and practice throughout your operations and company strategy?
Our four key values – democracy, openness, equality and social responsibility – guide everything we do as a co-operative. Our commitment to these can be seen at every level of our business. You’ll see it in our financial practices – we hold the highest-ever Fair Tax Mark score realised by a business that trades solely in the UK. And you’ll see it in the way we help our communities – last year our colleagues, customers and members donated more than 70,000 products to food banks, and we distributed more than £390,000 to over 500 community groups and good causes through grants and carrier bag monies.
We give our colleagues and members every opportunity to champion these values and make an impact. Last year, for example, we involved 10,000 members in selecting local opportunities to support across 20 of our Regional Communities, and our colleagues delivered 36,000 volunteer hours. This supportive, and democratic culture helped us increase our colleague engagement score last year to 82, which our independent survey provider ranked as exceptional for our sector.
Ultimately, what does being a responsible business mean to you?
As a co-operative, being a responsible business means creating a better, fairer world. To achieve this, we work locally to support the communities surrounding our trading sites and embrace diversity, and we work nationally to reduce our environmental footprint. We also work globally through the International Co-operative Alliance – on which our president, Ruth Fitzjohn, and our Group Chief Executive, Ben Reid, sit – to ensure we’re at the forefront of the international co-operative movement and champion the co-op model.
A strong ethical compass directs all our business decisions, and we constantly review our social, charitable and environmental initiatives to make sure they’re making a measurable difference.
Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) Index is a robust tool to help companies systematically measure, manage and integrate responsible business practice. It does this by conducting a gap analysis, benchmarking against industry peers, and recognising and communicating achievement. Learn more about the CR Index and our Advisory Services.