Promoting Social Mobility at Wates Group

The construction industry is inextricably linked with the whole of UK society. 

We build the physical world around us, of course, but our impact is felt beyond, with the ability to offer training and employment prospects; to inspire young people to join a vibrant and diverse industry; and to support the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises supplying us.

Wates Group is a family owned construction, property services and development business delivering schools, homes, shops, leisure across the UK. My role as Sustainability Director is simple – making sure we do business the right way. Within Wates we have formalized our approach through a framework called Reshaping Tomorrow – prioritising the issues most important to us, our customers, suppliers and wider stakeholders. This includes: - ensuring the safety, health & wellbeing of those who work with us; putting the environment at the heart of what and how we build; ensuring everyone is valued and belongs, and; transforming the communities where we live & work.

Last year we were delighted to be crowned Organisation of the Year at the inaugural Social Mobility Awards. The awards are a great way to recognize and showcase companies who are promoting and increasing social mobility. 

One of my proudest achievements is Building Futures, a pre-employment programme established 11 years ago which supports people getting into work or looking to return to the sector. I set this programme up whilst working on a housing scheme in Coventry; now, over 1,300 people have completed the programme. For some, it is the first qualification they have achieved. Over 50% have moved into education, training or employment.

The numbers are great but the stories are so much more powerful. The impact that a programme like Building Futures can have on the individual and wider families & communities is incredible and shouldn’t be under-estimated. This year we will be delivering 30 programmes across the UK. Building Futures was, along with other initiatives, a reason we won at the Social Mobility Awards.

Every time I meet or speak with businesses around the UK, there are other examples of businesses being a force for good. I know that ICRS members are all doing incredible things and I would encourage you to think about applying for the UK Social Mobility Awards to celebrate and showcase the work that business does. The awards will be launched in London on 19 March. 

Hopefully 2018 will be a year for more ICRS members! 

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