Responsible business week panel sees students put us in the hotseat again

  25 MAY, 2017
Responsible business week panel sees students put us in the hotseat again

Our chairman Stuart Seddon has chaired a ‘Question Time’ style panel of Staffordshire firms that faced a grilling on responsible business from more than 60 students from five local schools: Cooperative Academy, Thistley Hough, Ormiston Horizon Academy, Excel Academy and Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews.

The event gave local students the opportunity to ask representatives from six different businesses how their organisations endeavour to behave responsibly. This was followed by a networking session, where students were encouraged to share their ideas for improving the way businesses work, making workplaces better and helping communities thrive.

Stuart Seddon chaired the panel of local businesses that included Keele University, Lucideon, Waterworld Group, Stoke College and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.  The companies were joined by a group of enthusiastic young people from schools that are part of Business in the Community’s Staffordshire Business Class Cluster.

Organised by Business in the Community (BITC), the event took place for the second consecutive year as part of Responsible Business Week, an annual awareness week run by Business in the Community to inspire and challenge more businesses to take action which creates positive change in society when businesses and organisations share ways they can work together for a fairer society and a more sustainable future.

The schools and businesses taking part are all part of Business in the Community’s Stoke Business Class Cluster, a group of schools and businesses who work together all year round to ensure that young people attending local schools gain the workplace skills they need to build successful working lives.

The pupils had prepared a series of questions which they put a series of questions to the panel, covering issues such as Brexit, business ethics, technology, and opportunities the businesses can offer school leavers in Stoke.

Stuart Seddon said: “We’re thrilled to be taking part in this worthwhile event for a second year. It’s great to see the next generation showing an interest in responsible business and we hope we demonstrated the benefits of operating responsibly.”

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DELIVERING ON OUR COMMITMENT TO IMPROVE PAYMENT PRACTICES

Ahead of the filing of our latest payment practice statistics, Neil Washington, our finance director, provides a breakdown of our results. Late payments are a thorn in the side of smaller firms in the construction supply chain. That’s why we have placed an ongoing focus on doing all we can to reduce the time we take to pay our suppliers. Quite rightly, the issue has attracted negative headlines in the construction industry and large companies are now required to report on their payment practices every six months. So, with the deadline for businesses to file their latest available data falling this week, some may be nervous about what the statistics will reveal. Here at Novus, however, we’re happy to report that our commitment to reducing payment times is continuing to bear fruit. The data for the first half of the year shows that we took an average of 29 days to pay our subcontractors. This is an improvement on the already high standard we set ourselves for the same period last year, which was 30 days. To put this in context, according to Construction News’ latest analysis of payment-practice reports, the industry’s largest contractors took an average of 43 days to pay suppliers. It’s not just there where we’ve continued to make improvements. We also now pay 57% of our invoices within 30 days, up from 52% for the first half of 2018, while the proportion of payments outside of terms are down year-on-year. Of course, our work doesn’t stop here and we will continue to focus on this issue. Contractors and their supply chains are dependent on each other’s success. Prompt payment means that subcontractors can maintain healthy cashflow levels, increasing the likelihood of them accepting more work and consistently carrying out quality jobs. Late payment can also have a massive impact on cashflow, increasing the likelihood of insolvency. At a time of skills shortages, reduced access to labour and economic uncertainty, it’s vital that bigger players in the industry are doing all they can to ease the burden smaller firms face.