Gentoo Group tops national list for business responsibility

Social enterprise is one of only six firms to score five stars in Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index

Gentoo chief executive Peter Walls
Gentoo chief executive Peter Walls

North East social enterprise Gentoo Group has topped Business in the Community’s annual list of responsible business.

The Sunderland-based housing group is one of only six organisations to get a five-star rating in the Corporate Responsibility Index, alongside Dairy Crest, Fujitsu, Nationwide Building Socity, PwC and Unipart.

The index is based on a range of factors, including board engagement with business responsibility and the link between remuneration and CR performance.

Analysis of the 2015 CR Index data suggests that progress is being made to shift responsible business up the corporate agenda, with an increase in companies taking social and environmental issues into account when developing new products and making investments.

The overall average score of the CR Index has also increased from 85% in 2014 to 91% this year, demonstrating the increased relevance of corporate responsibility to business operations.

The publication of the index coincides with the start of Responsible Business Week yesterday, with Gentoo playing its part by championing responsible business activity amongst organisations in the North East.

Chief executive Peter Walls said: “Responsible business is embedded in our entire organisation. In fact, it’s who we are.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this prestigious achievement, it recognises the hard work and commitment by our passionate staff. Being a responsible business starts with your staff and our people are at the heart of ours.

“We support them to be their best when they are at work. How can you expect them to give 100% to help others if they don’t feel fulfilled themselves?

“From a planet perspective, we are aiming to be a carbon-neutral company, something we call being planet smart. If we only have one planet, what gives us the right to consume the resources of more than one? It’s a good moral and ethical position to have and I am challenging others to do the same.

“In our communities our activity ranges from helping with loneliness, engaging mature people, or working with young people who are not prepared to access either education or employment.

“We have young people telling us we have changed their life and in some cases, saved their life. This is what drives us. Making a real positive difference is right at the heart of Gentoo.”

Peter Walls Chief Executive of Gentoo, Sunderland
Peter Walls Chief Executive of Gentoo, Sunderland

Companies assessed in this year’s Corporate Responsibility Index include Barclays, Camelot, Jaguar Land Rover and the Crown Estate.

North East-based Northumbrian Water and Go-Ahead Group both scored four scores in the index, while Greggs was awarded three stars.

Stephen Howard, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: “The 2015 CR Index shows us that we are moving in the right direction and companies are now increasingly integrating responsible business practice into decision making right across the business.

“To truly change business culture, companies need to engage their people to embrace a different way of doing business with responsible values at the core. So it is especially encouraging this year that we have seen a significant increase in the representation of corporate responsibility, both at board level and amongst the generation of future leaders that will shape the businesses of tomorrow.

“I congratulate Gentoo Group for achieving its ranking and look forward to working together to create a fairer society and a more sustainable future.”

Last year Mr Walls was appointed as The Prince of Wales’ ambassador for responsible business in the North East through Business in the Community.

Gentoo has also received two re-accreditations of its national education award for its work with Academy 360 in Sunderland and also its national workwell engagement and wellbeing award for its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its staff.

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