• Roger Smith

    SHEQ Director

Social value for businesses has never been more vital in today’s economic landscape.

As we work to address the challenges posed by the cost-of-living crisis and work towards delivering more sustainable operations to reach net zero carbon by 2050, organisations are recognising that their impact extends well beyond the profit margin.

In the era of heightened environmental, social, and governance awareness, we witness a shift in consumer and employee expectations, who are demanding more from the organisations they engage with. According to a recent report by PwC, 83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practices and 86% of employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues they do.

However, the need for ESG goes beyond bolstering organisational reputation. As the financial burdens on individuals and families intensify, companies play a crucial role in alleviating societal challenges by delivering impactful social value initiatives and actively contributing to the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve. Engaging in initiatives that address critical issues, such as affordable housing, reduced heating costs, access to education, food security, and healthcare affordability, not only demonstrates the environmental and social strands of ESG but also positively impacts the lives of individuals struggling with rising living costs.

Norse Group strives to improve people’s lives whilst generating a sustainable, ethical profit for the public sector. We recognise the need to develop an ethically profitable business with consideration to the impact our activities have on the Environmental (planet), Social (people), and Governance (profit).

As the UK’s largest local authority trading company, we are woven into local communities. With a workforce of 9,000, we’re not just about business; we’re about building communities and making them thrive.

In 2022/23, we worked with charities and community groups across the UK to live by our tagline, improving people’s lives. This involved:

– Creating a year-long programme of fundraising activities for Macmillan Cancer Trust, Mind and LGBTQ+ charities.

– Awarding £30,000 to local organisations and charities via the Norse Group Community Fund.

– Fundraising £97,000 for the Norse Care Tenant Amenity Fund.

– Being awarded the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme’s Silver Award Certificate for being Armed Forces-friendly employers.

– Collaborating with Norfolk Community Foundation to develop the Nourishing Norfolk Network, supporting 24,000 people via 22 food hubs.

At Norse, we are shifting our focus towards adopting sustainable and socially responsible practices underpinned by strong corporate governance, revolutionising our approach to work. This includes vetting potential and existing suppliers on their ESG practices and finding ways to measure and reduce our energy consumption and waste.

Companies that actively prioritise social and environmental value not only enhance their reputation but also build a loyal customer base committed to supporting initiatives that align with their values. In this evolving landscape, businesses must recognise that their success is intrinsically connected to their ability to contribute meaningfully to societal wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

Statistics taken from PwC, Beyond Compliance report