Businesses that ‘do good’ win awards at University event
The University of Manchester has held its first ever awards ceremony to celebrate the responsible practices of its suppliers, as part of a major initiative to recognise and support businesses which want to work in more sustainable ways.
With an annual spend of £465m on goods and services, The University of Manchester works with thousands of suppliers, ranging from local small and medium enterprises to multi-national corporations, and over the past few years has been increasingly using its influence to help these businesses to become more sustainable and socially responsible.
One of these, Manchester-based Thomas Kneale and Co, won the award for Outstanding Demonstration of Impact by a Local SME at the ceremony yesterday (8 November). The company supplies textiles, such as bedding and shower curtains, to the University’s halls of residence and has been working hard to ensure that all of its cotton comes from sustainable sources.
The company also audits the factories where its products are made, in order to ensure good labour practices, including shift lengths, breaks and payment rates. Training, development and health and safety are also monitored.
Businesses can use this to generate benefit because it shows to the outside world and potential customers that they are ethical, they believe in these principles and that their customers can benefit from their green agenda
The University has also created a supplier engagement online toolkit with NETPositive Futures, which has now been used by 1,400 companies. One of these, a company that was highly commended for its responsible practices, was Chariot Office Supplies, a Manchester-based company which employs 13 people.
Accessing the tool provided by the University helped this company have a re-think about their operations, moving from two sites to one – resulting in reduced carbon emissions and time spent travelling between two locations. The single site was upgraded, a process which included LED lighting and insulation to improve environmental performance and a staff room as part of an employee wellbeing initiative.
Stephen Dauncey, The University’s Director of Finance said: “Being socially responsible is at the heart of the University’s mission and through our suppliers we can have a powerful influence far beyond the confines of our campus, into the wider economy.”
“I was really pleased to see so many of our suppliers attend the event yesterday and the number and quality of changes these businesses are making is truly inspiring.”
Eight suppliers were shortlisted to attend the awards out of 1,400 that use the tool, which was part of a day of celebrations which also recognised environmental sustainability work by staff.
Guest speakers included Paul Gerrard, Group Policy and Campaigns Director at The Co-op Group, and Alex Ganotis, leader of Stockport Council and Chair of the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub, who spoke about sustainability in the region.
Mr Ganotis said: “The Supplier Awards provides businesses, including SMEs, with a showcase they can use publicly and to customers to show that they engage and provide services in line with the University’s green and sustainable procurement policies.
“They can use this to generate business benefit because it shows to the outside world and potential customers that they are ethical, they believe in these principles and that their customers can benefit from their green agenda.”
The full list of winners and highly commended entrants
- Matthew Algie & Company Ltd - Outstanding Demonstration of Social Impact
- Carl Zeiss Ltd - Outstanding Demonstration of Environmental Impact
- Thomas Kneale & Co Ltd - Outstanding demonstration of impact by a local SME
Highly Commended for their Demonstration of Responsible Procurement: