|Corporate Social Responsibility Report|
In last year's report we set out our CSR policy and commissioned
a study which identified the CSR issues that we consider to be
the most important to our business:
Based on these issues and with the aim of improving our
performance, we defined our three year objectives which are
set out on the following pages.
- How we treat our tenants;
- How we look after our employees;
- How we meet environmental, social and legal requirements;
- How we support the communities in which we operate
We have made satisfactory progress against
these over the course of the year and our key
achievements are described in more detail later
on. This report describes each objective and
contains case studies demonstrating our CSR
As part of the risk assessment process (see corporate governance report), the board considers all risks including environmental risks and health and safety risks. A CSR committee has also been established, with representation from across the organisation. Rupert Dickinson heads the committee, demonstrating the group's commitment to CSR. He has overall responsibility for community issues, although other senior management are also involved.The main purpose of the committee is to disseminate information around the group and involve other employees in specific CSR projects where their roles or skills are relevant.
Grainger is a forward-thinking entrepreneurial organisation, which seeks to conduct its business in a socially responsible manner at all times. We believe that this is achieved by being mindful of an overall framework of suitable standards, rather than by abiding by hard and fast, self-imposed CSR regulations.
Grainger, in common with all businesses, has many stakeholders, with differing requirements. Our business is rooted in communities, and can affect the lives of many tenants and the communities in which we operate. The focus of our energy externally is therefore on social and community issues. Internally, Grainger recognises the value of its employees, and provides staff with a clear path to reward and recognition for success.
We are in the process of defining suitable CSR Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to monitor our progress and performance. These are presented for the first time this year, under the relevant objectives section, and contain historical information where it is available. As Grainger pursues strategies into new business areas, we will develop further appropriate KPIs.
Finally, although not a full audit opinion, an external commentary has been provided by Casella Stanger, similar to last year.
External commentary 2004
Grainger Trust CSR Performance
Casella Stanger are pleased to be invited
again to comment on Grainger Trust's progress
since the publication of their first Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy in 2003.
Last year four key objectives were established
to improve CSR performance and Grainger Trust
is reporting on their progress to date, as well as
setting out plans for the future.
It is extremely encouraging that Grainger Trust has also been very clear in establishing plans for future improvements in CSR that will be co-ordinated and reviewed by a specific Board-level CSR Committee.
In our opinion, Grainger Trust has made good progress in its first year against their CSR objectives. In particular, the establishment of "Charity of the Year" and a focussed programme for employee involvement in charitable activities are to be encouraged. In addition, Grainger Trust's activities to support employees and merge terms and conditions of employment is to be commended. Grainger Trust's identification of KPIs in some key CSR areas demonstrates that more formal data collection and reporting has been established and that year-on-year data will begin to show performance and further demonstrate progress.
The focus for Grainger Trust over the coming year should be to communicate its CSR policy and progress to stakeholders, as well as gathering data in a simple and formalised manner. Grainger Trust will then be able to assess the costs, benefits and value added from its CSR programme.
We look forward to working with Grainger Trust as it develops its CSR reporting in future years.
Prepared by Emma Griffiths Principal Consultant Casella Stanger
Reviewed by Ken Smith Business Director Casella Consulting
Grainger CSR committee
Terms of reference
- An executive director of Grainger will head the CSR committee
- It will report through that executive director to the board where appropriate
- The committee will aim to meet quarterly, subject to there being matters for consideration
- The main purposes of the committee are initially to:
- Review progress against the three year objectives;
- Plan, implement and monitor targets set to achieve these objectives by involving other group employees and/or consultants as appropriate;
- Disseminate CSR information to stakeholders.
- Prepare new objectives relevant to Grainger situation at that time;
- Initiate any further projects necessary to achieve these objectives;
- Re-evaluate communication to stakeholders, to ensure information is communicated effectively.
and after the initial three year phase to:
To identify CSR issues and develop a strategic response to stakeholder information requests.
Our key CSR issues were identified with Casella
Stanger, and they reported on these in September
2003. Casella also assisted in our response to an
We have recognised that our tenants are our biggest group of non-financial stakeholders. As such, our initial focus has been on ensuring that they are treated with respect and understand how and when to contact us.
The last year has seen significant changes in Grainger, with the bringing in of the former Bromley joint venture. Property Management - the term we use to describe all dealings with tenants, has been brought under one roof - Grainger Residential Management. All property management activities are performed under this name, from repairs to rent collection. Reviews of best practice in several areas of property management have been completed and others are ongoing, to ensure that we offer a consistent, efficient and effective service to our tenants and contractors. We have several payment methods, allowing tenants to choose the most suitable for them and there is a centralised, dedicated telephone number for rent queries. We have arrears targets each year, which have fallen relative to our rent roll year-on-year. Repairs, however, are dealt with locally, from our offices and agents around the country, where we feel our tenants can best be serviced. We utilise the skills, flexibility and local knowledge of many small contractors.
Gittisham In April 2004, an opportunity arose for Grainger to enhance its property portfolio and provide some security to existing tenants. 27 properties in the picturesque village of Gittisham in Devon had been put up for sale by the landlord. Grainger stepped in to buy 15 of the properties, giving assurances that the village community would be preserved and that residents would be able to stay in their homes long-term.
EPRA Award In September 2004, Grainger was delighted to receive the EPRA Best Small/Mid-cap Performance Award, based on the year ended December 2003 in a ceremony in Berlin. EPRA (European Public Real Estate Association) is a common interest, not-for-profit organisation, which has aims to promote, develop and represent the European public real estate sector. It endeavours to establish best practice in accounting, reporting and corporate governance.
The trophy was awarded on the basis of total shareholder return, providing certain standards of corporate governance had been maintained.
- Number of tenants paying by direct debit At 30 September 2004 5,295 tenants paid by direct debit. This is 43% of all tenants. A further 13% paid by swipe card. These electronic methods make rent payments easier for both the tenant and us. We regularly send out letters offering these payment methods to tenants.
- Number of complaints We have started to collect data regarding complaints, and expect to report next year.
To formalise HR systems to provide support and appropriate CSR training for all staff.
We have made a significant effort to integrate the staff from Grainger and
the former Bromley joint venture. Terms and conditions were somewhat different,
and almost all have now been harmonised. All staff are now employed by one group
company and development and training activities encompass staff from all of
our offices as appropriate.
We now have standardised policies relating to all significant employment issues, including equal opportunities, further education, family leave, harassment, and maternity.
Worthy of note again this year is our enlightened attitude towards our employees. The group's share schemes have been opened up to the former Bromley staff, so that approximately two-thirds of staff are now shareholders.
Grainger is an entrepreneurial organisation. Staff of all levels are encouraged to put forward ideas and all are given consideration. Although formal employee satisfaction surveys are not yet undertaken, employees are encouraged to give feedback, particularly during the performance review process.
In September 2004 a diligent process of formally aligning each employee's personal objectives with the overall objectives of the group was initiated. Objectives for each 'division' were agreed between the head of that division and the executive board member responsible for that division. As performance reviews were performed, the objectives of the organisation were cascaded throughout and personal targets set which were in line with the overall objectives. Further training needs in order to achieve objectives set are being gathered together, therefore we can be certain that the money we spend on direct training will specifically enhance our ability to meet stated objectives.
We also support employees to achieve further relevant qualifications through our further education policy. During the year to 30 September 2004, we sponsored 13 employees to obtain degrees or other professional qualifications, plus seven employees studying for the IRPM – the Institution of Residential Property Manager's qualification.
Ann Johnson is one of several sponsorship success stories for Grainger. Her achievements were featured in the local press in August 2004, when she graduated with a BA in Housing Sustainable Communities and also won an award from the Chartered Institute of Housing, North East Region for Best Undergraduate Student. Ann joined Grainger in 1997 as a secretary to the surveying department. She has taken on more responsibility over the years and has recently moved to another position within Grainger land and regeneration division. We feel this demonstrates Grainger support and development of staff for the benefit of the group as well as the individual.
Grainger take all staff matters seriously. The group employs an HR manager for general matters and a specific HR manager for training and development. Both of these employees report directly to the deputy chief executive officer and finance director, who has overall responsibility for HR. No changes to terms and conditions are made without consultation with relevant staff.
A full overhaul of our intranet is ongoing. The end product should be a most useful tool for both communicating with our employees and as an invaluable source of best practice guidelines. The CSR policy will be included on it. It is intended that our progress on our CSR objectives will be updated after each CSR committee meeting. Employees will be encouraged to offer suggestions and take part in charitable events.
The health and safety of our employees is also paramount. We have an overall policy and significant guidance on our current intranet.
|Figure 9 - Grainger staff statistics|
|At 30 Sept 2004|
|Women in senior management/ holding board positions||3|
|Total members of staff||177|
|Year ended 30 Sept 2004|
|No. staff who received training||125|
|No. staff sponsored in further education||20|
To structure our approach to charitable giving and community support.
We have taken time to consider how best this
objective can be achieved so as to ensure our
actions are appropriate for our varied
The regeneration of arts and culture is important to Grainger and as a company we have made a commitment to make sure our business supports the cultural development of the North East region, where Grainger has its roots. Following the sponsorship of Antony Gormley's 'Domain Field' exhibition at the Baltic last year, this year we sponsored an English Heritage project – Fashion at Belsay (FAB). Well-known fashion designers and some not so well known from the University of Northumbria, each selected an area within Belsay Hall and its grounds, to create an original piece of work. Grainger guests were invited to the launch night and we also held an event at our year end to thank the key people we work with in other organisations. We aim to sponsor one prominent art related event each year.
In the South of the country, we have been investigating several potential partnerships. We are pleased to announce that we have agreed to support Open House on an ongoing basis. Open House is an architectural education charity with three principal objectives:
- To foster public awareness and appreciation of London's excellent built environment and architecture through free access
- To promote architectural literacy and further a better understanding of architecture and the public environment across all sections of the community, particularly with children and young people
- To create dialogues about the present and future environments between the Capital's residential and business community
From the current financial year, which started in October 2004, we will be nominating a charity of the year. If employees participate in sponsored events, then Grainger will match the sponsorship raised up to £100 per employee, provided it is donated to our charity of the year. We are delighted to announce that our first nominated charity is Shelter – the housing and homelessness charity. Shelter aim to end homelessness and bad housing in Britain by advising and campaigning, as well as research and fundraising. Shelter was a natural choice for us, but we will be defining appropriate conditions and criteria for our future nominees.
Each office will also be encouraged to organise a fundraising event in aid of our chosen charity. Employees organising these events will be invited to the next CSR committee meeting to report the outcome.
Other events in which we participated during the year include the Cancer Research 'world's biggest coffee morning, where employees baked cakes and sold them, with the proceeds going to the charity, and 'JeansforGenes' day.
In total in 2004 we gave £25,455 to charitable causes. This included £1,000 for a new 85cc scrambler bike for a 14 year old boy in Hadston, one of our development areas where we have worked closely with the local community. His own new bike had been stolen and without one he could no longer participate in moto-cross, where he had won 75 trophies in the two previous years.
To ensure compliance with all applicable social and environmental legislation as a minimum.
As a matter of course, senior managers read
relevant trade press, and are therefore aware
of regulations which could materially impact
on Grainger, as they develop. In this current
climate of constantly emerging legislation, it
is increasingly difficult to monitor and interpret
its volumes. We therefore took the decision
to maintain a register of all relevant legislation,
which is provided to us and regularly updated
by consultants who specialise in this field.
The committee will review the register after each update in order to disseminate changes to senior management whose departments will be affected.
We monitor our performance where key regulations affect us. The main one relates to the necessity for a landlord to check gas supplies/appliances. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 place a duty on landlords to ensure that gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants' use are not posing a health risk. The inspections must be undertaken by a CORGI registered contractor in each dwelling on an annual basis, and remedial action must be taken where required. Sometimes it can be difficult to gain entry for various reasons, and we have best practice guidelines which are followed rigorously to ensure both tenant and landlord protection.
Another major concern for us is that the contractors we engage adhere to the relevant health and safety standards. All contractors and consultants employed directly or indirectly (via agents) by Grainger are to be risk assessed and the results held on a database.
The database will include the following details:
- Area of operation and expertise
- Date of assessment/approval
- Current public liability insurance
- Member of specialist organisation
Grainger land and regeneration division is becoming increasingly involved in both social and physical regeneration. Of note this year is a joint venture/partnership arrangement for the redevelopment of a 30-acre brownfield site at North Shields, Tyne & Wear. Significant contamination exists at the site, which was viewed as potentially harmful to the surrounding community.
In the South East, Grainger has begun to work on projects to redevelop run-down locations. We are pleased with the progress we have made on these projects, which demonstrate effectively how business can be conducted with favourable social outcomes and expect to be able to report further next year.
In 2005 we hope to develop briefing notes for staff on the CSR legal requirements of their activities. This will be as a result of a thorough review of our register of legislation.
Having made a tentative start, based on careful consideration, we hope to make significant progress on all of our stated objectives over the coming year.
The most significant environmental issues affect primarily some 10% of the business - our development and trading division, further we negotiate with external parties to ensure standards are maintained. In Grainger Homes, for example, we employ a main contractor for each site and that contractor takes the responsibility for all health and safety and environmental matters on that site. Our agreement with the contractor stipulates minimum standards, and requires compliance with all applicable legislation and regulations.
No separate environmental report is therefore produced. Following further CSR work, we will attempt to justify the expense of a formal environmental audit, whilst considering any likely benefit.
We are able to report that we now recycle waste paper in our offices and during the period between November 2003 and 30 September 2004 we have saved over 100 trees.
Health and safety policyWe have duties to our employees, tenants of owned or managed properties, contractors, visitors, clients and the general public.
We aim to:
- Comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and all relevant statutory provisions.
- Provide adequate resources to enable this policy to be implemented.
- Ensure the health, safety and welfare of our employees and others who may be affected by our activities.
- Provide such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure the health and safety of our employees.
- Ensure that all plant and equipment under our control is maintained in a safe condition and is subject to routine and statutory inspections and examinations.
- Ensure that assessments of the risks arising from our activities are undertaken and the appropriate control measures and safe systems of work are implemented.
- Ensure that all accidents and dangerous occurrences are reported and where necessary, investigated and appropriate action taken to prevent recurrence.