Our approach to community engagement focuses on two key themes. Both of these resonate with our corporate CR objectives, the interests of our employees, the needs of our business and the products we produce, and represent the best way we can add value to the community. They are:
- Education for Our Community – our units couldn't operate without an educated, skilled, healthy workforce. It has also been shown to be a key factor in social mobility. We therefore support academic attainment in the communities where our employees live; aiming to enhance employability by improving literacy and numeracy levels, and English language learning, as well as encouraging greater awareness of health and hygiene issues.
- Textiles for Our Community – a significant proportion of our product lines end up in apparel, footwear and household textiles. Not everyone in society is fortunate enough to be able to purchase these products for themselves and some are in desperate need. We encourage our units to work with community partners to help provide apparel, footwear and/or household textiles for those less fortunate.
Our local unit managers are responsible for developing their own Community Engagement Plans within these broad corporate guidelines. Our objective is that all our locations (not just production units) should engage with their local communities, primarily utilising the skills, time, energy and experience of our employees, as well as the resources available to them within their units. Where possible, we encourage long-term partnerships with local or regional charities and/or community groups in order to produce greater benefit for society.
Over 130 Community Engagement Plans (CEPs) were completed in 2016, an increase of nearly 10% versus 2015. The unit participation rate decreased to 81% compared to 82% the previous year. Our case studies highlight some of the many initiatives that we carried out during 2016 across our business.