Personnel Today Awards 2019: Reconomy bags new Sustainable Business Award

The Reconomy team collect their Sustainable Business Award at the 2019 Personnel Today Awards

Waste reduction business Reconomy were crowned winners of this new category for 2019, which recognises employers that have sustainability at the heart of their organisations. Here we look at the winning entry and the other organisations that made the shortlist of the Sustainable Business Award, sponsored by The Guardian Jobs. 



A business that provides a comprehensive, tech-enabled waste reduction and environmental management service, Reconomy works through a network of pre-approved supply chain partners.

Its objective is to become the environmental services sector’s leading sustainable business and it wants to eradicate modern slavery, close the skills gap in the waste industry and also meet the expectations of its customers.

To maximise its social value output, Reconomy has created The Reconomy Social Value Programme (RSVP), leveraging its relationships with customers and suppliers to help realise positive change.

As a partner of the National House Project, Reconomy supports care leavers to live independent lives through training, employability and work opportunities in the waste and customer industries. Having signed up to the Care Leavers Covenant, it has ringfenced paid internship places for care leavers.

To tackle climate change, the firm is exploring ways of reducing energy usage and emissions from its operations. It has an ambitious 2% year-on-year reduction target, in line with government’s climate change target of reducing CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050.

Despite increases in turnover and the tonnage of waste the company manages, Reconomy decreased its carbon intensity by 19% in 2018. This was achieved through the use of a more efficient fleet: and the company says it will continue to increase its numbers of hybrid and electric cars. There was also a move to 100% renewable energy at its head office.

Having partnered with Hope for Justice, the firm has redoubled its efforts to eradicate modern slavery in the waste industry. It has also trained key staff to understand modern slavery and recognise the signs. This training has been further rolled-out to preferred suppliers, making it more difficult for traffickers to infiltrate their businesses.


Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

This international law firm’s groundbreaking apprenticeship scheme faced up to three key challenges last year: to drive a change in perception towards apprentices; to align with the new developments of the Solicitors’ Qualification Examination (SQE); and to ensure longevity of the programme and retention of its top talent through to qualification.

Personnel Today Awards 2019

View the full list of winners

HR has been at the forefront of advising on the changes and believes it has changed the programme for the better. Radical improvements were made in recruitment, career development, training programmes, apprentice guides and bonus schemes that have, among other things, led to the firm tapping into a wider and more diverse candidate pool using the Rare contextualised recruitment tool.

Partnering with the Social Mobility Foundation, BCLP also ran a work experience weeks, giving students an insight into a career in law.

The firm considers its offering to be unique in that it listens, learns and implements improvements from apprentices themselves. Not only has it created a tailored flexible programme that can adapt to business needs and constantly develop its apprentices, BCLP has ensured it works in parallel with their academic studies. Its immersive programme incorporates in-person training, recorded sessions and practical workshops to help the apprentices thrive in the workplace.

The financial impact of the changes has been significant with a 52% increase in billing compared with 2017. The changes implemented have enabled BCLP to ensure it has the right work at the right level delivered by the right people.

Galliard Homes

Prior to 2017 this prominent London property developer, with an annual turnover of over £300m and over 700 employees, had no cohesive approach to its community partnerships, charitable giving or environmental initiatives.

Following an education process of its internal stakeholders and an assessment of existing commitments, Galliard devised a 2020 Responsible Business Strategy based on engagement, sustainability and partnerships with each area having targets that would drive its actions and maximise its contributions in respect of time and money.

It now supports 15 charities including Children in Need and Macmillan and has nominated Great Ormond Street Hospital as its charity partner of choice with a commitment to raise £120,000 of funding for their Home Way From Home campaign.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Galliard rebuilt two community hubs in the Kensington area as part of the BBC’s DIY SOS programme in direct response to a critical need for community space. Strong relationships with schools, colleges and universities enable Galliard to fulfil its employability targets and actively upskill its future workforce.

Since November 2017, under the direction of HR, Galliard employees have undertaken 5,000 hours of volunteer work benefiting its charity and community partners immensely.

The firm’s drive to becoming a sustainable business also includes a Sustainable Procurement Plan that as the principal contractor, employees, subcontractors and suppliers are aligned to its sustainable development objectives and support its strategic and ethical procurement targets.This entails recycling 98% of its construction waste.

Hermes UK

The parcel delivery firm, that works with names such as Next and John Lewis, has developed an HR-led corporate social responsibility programme broken down into three areas: Giving Back; Looking Forward; and Creating Opportunities.

Giving Back has seen a much greater involvement with charities than previously and includes match-funding schemes with employees. Working with provider Chicks, Hermes now provides greater support to fundraising activities such as sponsored bike rides and sky dives, skills sharing, volunteering and sponsorship.

Looking Forward aims to make the firm much greener. It aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by the end of 2020. Other initiatives have seen Hermes order a large number of compressed natural gas powered vehicles, and reduce its carbon footprint by carbon offsetting which protects rainforest in areas of the world such as Papua New Guinea.

It also aims to only send 15% of its waste to landfill by the end of 2019, stretching to 10% by the end of 2020. Ten locations have been identified as target areas as the worst offenders for recycling.

Northumberland County Council

To improve its HR and organisational development (OD) the council introduced a new strategic HR lead, someone who could represent and drive the HR agenda at the senior levels of the business.

It also decided to complete the formation of a new single HR/OD function bringing together disparate teams, people and functions in to a single co-located and cohesive service. This could scrutinise and analyse all aspects of the HR/OD operation ensuring best practice was embedded, skills and capacity were maximised and talent and potential could be realised.

Furnished with a suite of workforce informatics and datasets, HR/OD began to systematically scrutinise all aspects of workforce performance from recruitment, right through to absence and performance management, development and compliance.

Achievements and outcomes have included greater job shadowing and job rotation within the service, allowing team members opportunity to stretch and develop own skills and knowledge. There has also been much greater sharing of best practice and lessons learnt from case reviews and peer reviews both internally and externally with colleagues and partner organisations. There are regular HR/OD development days and action learning sets, with individuals encouraged to engage with and take responsibility for leading on their own initiatives. HR benchmarking and self-assessment tools have been used to identify areas for improvement.

There has been a 70% increase in agile and remote working across all teams, reduction in office ratios to accommodate 6:10 people-to-desk ratios. Teams within HR/OD are no longer defined by the space they occupy or the line management structure they reside within but the contribution to the outcome.

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