As mentioned in my first blog post, I attended Commercial Group’s annual CSR Day titled ‘Who Cares Wins’. Quentin Blake, Head of Sustainability at Waitrose, delivered the first keynote speech at this event – focussed on how to be sustainable in the competitive world of business.
‘The Waitrose Way’ is the ethos behind Waitrose and Waitrose believes in championing British, treading lightly, treating people fairly and living well.
Championing British is all about Waitrose celebrating the best of British food. This doesn’t mean that Waitrose are insular and don’t stock imported food – it just means that they work to do the right thing by local, British farmers.
Treading Lightly is where Waitrose focus on cutting energy and emissions to reduce their carbon footprint and the impact they have on the environment. One of my favourite things that Waitrose does to reduce their impact is their use of food waste. Any food waste Waitrose creates is anaerobically digested so it can then be used as biofuel for their transport – a fantastic way of utilising their waste (so it doesn’t go to landfill!) whilst reducing the impact of their vehicles too!
Treating People Fairly taps into the local community side of Waitrose’s CSR. Waitrose supports Fairtrade, and does all it can for the local community through the Waitrose Foundation. The in store ‘Community Matters’ boxes allow Waitrose customers to help the local community – each customer being given a token after they’ve shopped which they can then place in a box of their choice and donate to charity.
Living Well is all about healthy options and choices, and allowing customers to know what they’re eating.
Quentin’s speech was about much more than just what Waitrose does to be sustainable. Quentin focussed on how to implement such strategies and such an ethos in a competitive business such as Waitrose. According to Quentin, successful CSR policies are all about ENGAGEMENT and in order to implement long lasting, effective strategies in your business you must:
1. Engage yourself – how can you engage others in something if you’re not engaged yourself?
2. Engage your staff
3. Engage members of the public (ie. customers)
4. Engage other organisations (e.g. NGOs, government)
What came across from Quentin’s speech is that – YES, it can be difficult to implement CSR in a business – YES, there may be resistance from your colleagues – YES, it won’t be easy. But if you can successfully engage and motivate yourself, then soon enough (if the strategy and ideas are right) your staff and customers will follow.