Better Business, Better Scotland

February 2016

“Scottish businesses must be motivated by more than the financial bottom line if they are to help build a fairer and greener Scotland.”

This is the conclusion of the report “Better Business” that has been released by Social Value Lab on business practices in Scotland. The research set out to answer the following questions and explore the barriers so many businesses face in changing the corporate behaviour:

Better business questions

The results were very encouraging, showing that there is an appetite from Scottish businesses to play a role in creating a fairer and greener Scotland. Some of the most promising responses include 85% of businesses reporting that community, social and environmental issues as either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important to them and nine in ten companies (89%) felt they were delivering on their social and environmental responsibilities.

Better business chart 1

However, it also found barriers that business face, including pressures caused by business size with just 15% of small companies reported to fully support employee volunteering, 22% among mid-sized companies and a huge gap to 51% among large companies. There was also a clear issue with equality for women with, only 13% of all board posts held by women and over half (56%) of the firms with none at all. Just 4% of CEOs are women.

This report is hugely important to us at Forster Group, not only because we try to lead by example in environmental and social responsibility, but we also strive to see this culture extend out into our industry and wider community. We began in the construction industry 26 years ago, and since taking on our first trainee in 1990, we haven’t stopped seeing the value in investing in the workforce of the future.

We invested in our business early, building lasting relationships from the beginning with local schools and colleges, we have collaborated on many initiatives to invest in new skills for young people. In 2014 this eventually led to the creation of our Forster Skills Academy, a custom-designed training centre delivering innovative Modern Apprenticeship qualifications for people looking to learn a trade in roofing. We have so far taken on 12 new apprentices and will continue to take on a further 12 into 2016.

Investing in our people has served us well for the future, ensuring an injection of new ideas and fresh thinking in the business, the development of a pipeline of talent, as well as improved capacity to react to customer demand. Last year we were accredited as one of the first wave of Investors in Young People employers in Scotland and 32% of our workforce are aged under 25 years old.

Our people are our business, so working innovatively, collaboratively and investing in the future of our industry are key to staying one step ahead and the continued success of any business.