Ipswich Building Society receives Trading for Good honour

Kay Allen, founder of Trading for Good, and Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society

Kay Allen, founder of Trading for Good, and Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Building Society has been presented with a Responsible Business Award at a Trading for Good East of England event held in its home town.

Trading for Good is a digital platform which helps businesses to measure and report on the social value they have created, and to demonstrate the impact this has had on the health of society.

It was created in 2012, emerging out of the coalition government’s “Every Business Commits” agenda which focused on key priorities for sustainable business behaviour.

To be eligible for a Trading for Good Responsible Business Award, firms are required to submit details of at least five different responsible business activities in which they have been involved within a 12-month period, including five endorsements from outside of the business.

Ipswich Building Society far exceeded this, having completed 21 responsible business activities and received seven endorsements within the required timeframe.

Activities in which the society has been involved include: a “Beachwatch” in Aldeburgh for the Marine Conservation Society where staff and members cleared and surveyed 13kg of litter; executive volunteering at REACH Community Projects during which the society’s executive team helped to develop the charity’s strategy and business plan; the launch of its Money Metrics programme which provides financial education for Year 10 students in local schools; and a commitment to ensuring that all employees earn the Living Wage.

The Trading for Good event in Ipswich featured Ipswich Building Society chief executive Paul Winter as guest speaker, sharing ideas on how larger organisations can support smaller businesses in being socially responsible, and also saw the society launch a Social Value Report, assessing the impact of its responsible business activities.

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Kay Allen, founder of Trading for Good, said: “It’s important to measure the impact organisations like Ipswich Building Society have had on local communities and demonstrate the contribution this makes to improving the wellbeing and economic growth in society.

“In doing so, it helps businesses to understand the interdependency that is created between employees, customers and the local community as well as helping to rebuild consumer trust in businesses.

“Through its volunteering, community initiatives, financial education programme and support of local good causes, Ipswich Building Society contributes greatly to the communities across Suffolk and it’s important this is recognised.”

Mr Winter said: “Social value is not an initiative, it’s a way of doing business. Ipswich Building Society is dedicated to understanding and caring for the needs of its membership, staff, local businesses and the environment.

“Investment in local communities is essential to helping grow the skills and the economy of the areas which businesses rely on for their own prosperity. Supporting the local community is something we have done since our foundation and it’s my priority to lead the society to achieve continued success.”

Mr Winter, who chairs Business in the Community’s advisory board in the East of England and is a former Prince of Wales ambassador for responsible business in the region, said that while the term “corporate social resonsibility” was relatively new (it dates from the 1950s) the concept had effectively been central to Ipswich Building Society since it was established in 1849.

The original aim of the society was: “To improve the social position and promote the moral elevation of the un-enfranchised population of this country”, which was translated into building and mortgaging homes, with the right to vote then being linked to property ownership.

“Fast forward 166 years and although our business operations have changed somewhat (we stopped building homes in 1933) our purpose to help people save and own their own home remains, as does our spirit to support the local community within which we operate,” said Mr Winter.

“I recently met with our members to ask them for their views about what a socially responsible business looks like. Thankfully their answers and the principles that drive society are much the same.”