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Looking beyond the obvious carbon footprint reduction initiatives, recycling and energy efficiency, which should be the first ports of call, what can we do enhance social and ethical sustainability?
To make a difference locally, engaging the socially marginalised in the workforce has always been hot on AKW’s agenda. Some of the solutions provided have been offering employment to those with long term disabilities, rehabilitating ex-offenders and ex-military in the workplace, and offering on the job training to those lacking work experience, skills or qualifications. This has empowered these frequently ostracised individuals with the tools they need for a brighter career future, often ending a benefit dependency cycle.
Connecting with a meaningful charity is also a great stride. We’re extremely proud of our partnership with Parkinson’s UK, chosen in honour of our Founder and Chairman Tony Worthington, who was unfortunately diagnosed with the progressive disease. Knowing that as a company we’re contributing to a great cause and supporting research into a condition which still has a lot of relative unknowns, is uplifting for staff and customers alike.
Ensuring ethics is embedded into the purchasing process is also a no brainer; at AKW, we’re conscious of the ethical compatibility of our suppliers. One example of this is the decision to award our drinking water contract to AquAid, who we have collaborated with to assist the implementation of sustainable drinking water projects throughout Africa. We’ll soon have our own dedicated well in an African village, helping to close the gap of the one in nine people around the world who aren’t fortunate enough to have an accessible clean water supply.
‘We like to think of ourselves as industry leaders in our social responsibility commitments; we’re proud that we can say we save 1,404 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, but as a transport company, I feel that’s an obligation. It’s the voluntary, value add work that really sets us apart. We must be continually conscious of our impact on the world around us, doing all we can to make a positive difference.’ Julian Richards, MD concludes.
Although the industry margins notoriously are tight, making smart investments in the basics is essential, and devising effective social initiatives is a lot simpler and more cost effective than first meets the eye.
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