Corporate and social responsibility – Aramark

Foodservice Footprint CSR-Aramark-300x236 Corporate and social responsibility - Aramark  Best Practice  Corporate Social Responsibility   Foodservice Footprint talks to one of the leading contract caterers, Aramark, and takes a look at the evolution of its CSR policy – which is now emerging as one of the most ‘inclusive’ in the business..... A new and imaginative corporate and social responsibility programme has been unveiled by one of the country’s leading contract catering companies. No stranger to CSR, Aramark, which employs almost 12,500 people at nearly 1,000 different sites, has taken its commitment to the next stage, rolling out one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind that encompasses its own workforce, its customers, its suppliers and the business community at large. And, the company is committed to truly ‘engaging’ with its staff and business partners in the values of making a difference to the world in which they live and work. From ‘top to bottom’ it is involving its business partners – for example, the company has launched its own ‘Supplier CR Forum’ to debate, educate and resonate when it comes to delivering consistent policies. Plus, Aramark is ensuring that those who can demonstrate real commitment to its corporate responsibility programme – whether internal employees or external partners - will be recognised at its annual awards ceremony in September. Val Carter, Aramark’s Corporate Responsibility Director, said that the company is committed to creating an entirely new culture in thinking about issues as diverse as sustainability, recycling, climate change and charitable work. She said: “As well as the wider issues such as sourcing and recycling, there are local issues specific to each community in which we operate and specific to each employee who works for us. “We are not aiming to change the world alone. But we are hoping to make a difference to the people who support us – customers, suppliers or employees - in those areas in which we operate,” she added. “To help us drive this area forward, we actually brought in a CR Implementation Manager, Sue Lightfoot, and when she joined her first key objective was to grab hold of the whole recycling and waste management issue, get a good understanding of the issues and find solutions to any gaps in waste management requirements.” Aramark’s new programme will include a training and awareness package that will be sent to every one of its units around the country. It includes a DVD presentation on all aspects of corporate responsibility as well as posters and leaflets explaining how individuals can get involved, either alone or with their colleagues. Staff will be encouraged to think about how they can help the company to improve in the four main areas of corporate responsibility that it has identified: the marketplace, the workplace, the environment and the community. The marketplace, said Val, means issues such as food sourcing. “This can be a confusing issue,” she said. “Most people’s initial reaction is to say ‘buy local’. But that isn’t straight forward. What is local? What about products that are not manufactured in this country? And, is it ethical to put overseas farmers, producers and their families out of business simply to follow a populist mantra? There has to be a balance, and we are working towards understanding what that balance should be.” Fortunately, the workplace area of corporate responsibility has not caused so much difficulty in definition. “The health and wellbeing of our staff and customers matters,” said Val. But she goes one step farther in her desire to support a healthy and motivated workforce, with plans to measure and investigate sickness days and absence to see how the company can help and support those who are suffering – a move that she is urging on other leading companies by sitting on BITC’s Business Action on Health committee. And, as Val advocates: “Sustainability is increasingly demanded of business partners – both driven from the top end and also from the public at large who are now asking that business mirrors the public belief and values. And yes, of course, there are business reasons for implementing policies but ultimately, however philanthropic ones’ intentions may be – a business has to be successful, lead from the front and have a rounded policy that doesn’t just pay lip service to the issue”. Aramark already sends more than 300,000 litres of waste cooking oil for conversion to bio-fuel each year. But, much more is promised. “Our clients tell us that they want to see increased recycling, greater composting and a reduction in packaging,” she said. “But, just as importantly, we as a company want to achieve all these things because we believe that it is the right thing to do.” Work is now underway to see how Aramark can improve in these and other environmental areas. Although staff are actively encouraged to contribute their thoughts and suggestions to any of these aspects of corporate responsibility, the fourth area – the community – is the one in which they can visibly make the most difference. “We recognise that all our employees have lives and families outside the workplace,” Val said. “They belong to sports teams, community groups and faith organisations. We ask a lot of our people and their families, so it is only right that, from time to time, we support them and their communities. She added: “Whether it’s reading in schools, decorating a church hall or helping with a local event, we want to find ways to encourage our people to give something back.” She cites the example of how, last year, Aramark “star teams” across the company raised more than £50,000 for the BBC Children in Need appeal. “It was a remarkable effort,” she said, “and made me proud of everyone involved as well as proud to work for such a strong organisation.” A cynic might say that Aramark is merely jumping on the latest bandwagon or corporate fad but, as Val pointed out, if this were the case the company has left it rather late. “Corporate and social responsibility has been around for a number of years,” she said. “And, it is nothing new for Aramark. “We’ve been committed to CSR for many years” she says. “But, we aren’t content to sit still and what we are doing now is taking our existing policies to the next stage and looking at how we can main-stream the concept throughout the entire organisation. Just this month, for example, the company teamed up with the Students’ Union at City College, Plymouth, to host a Fairtrade Festival, and there are countless other examples of our involvement with local groups.” Indeed, if even half of Aramark’s staff takes up the company’s commitment to corporate and social responsibility, this collectively make an enormous difference to the world in which we all live....Foodservice Footprint talks to one of the leading contract caterers, Aramark, and takes a look at the evolution of its CSR policy – which is now emerging as one of the most ‘inclusive’ in the business..... A new and imaginative corporate and social responsibility programme has been unveiled by one of the country’s leading contract catering companies. No stranger to CSR, Aramark, which employs almost 12,500 people at nearly 1,000 different sites, has taken its commitment to the next stage, rolling out one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind that encompasses its own workforce, its customers, its suppliers and the business community at large. And, the company is committed to truly ‘engaging’ with its staff and business partners in the values of making a difference to the world in which they live and work. From ‘top to bottom’ it is involving its business partners – for example, the company has launched its own ‘Supplier CR Forum’ to debate, educate and resonate when it comes to delivering consistent policies. Plus, Aramark is ensuring that those who can demonstrate real commitment to its corporate responsibility programme – whether internal employees or external partners - will be recognised at its annual awards ceremony in September. Val Carter, Aramark’s Corporate Responsibility Director, said that the company is committed to creating an entirely new culture in thinking about issues as diverse as sustainability, recycling, climate change and charitable work. She said: “As well as the wider issues such as sourcing and recycling, there are local issues specific to each community in which we operate and specific to each employee who works for us. “We are not aiming to change the world alone. But we are hoping to make a difference to the people who support us – customers, suppliers or employees - in those areas in which we operate,” she added. “To help us drive this area forward, we actually brought in a CR Implementation Manager, Sue Lightfoot, and when she joined her first key objective was to grab hold of the whole recycling and waste management issue, get a good understanding of the issues and find solutions to any gaps in waste management requirements.” Aramark’s new programme will include a training and awareness package that will be sent to every one of its units around the country. It includes a DVD presentation on all aspects of corporate responsibility as well as posters and leaflets explaining how individuals can get involved, either alone or with their colleagues. Staff will be encouraged to think about how they can help the company to improve in the four main areas of corporate responsibility that it has identified: the marketplace, the workplace, the environment and the community. The marketplace, said Val, means issues such as food sourcing. “This can be a confusing issue,” she said. “Most people’s initial reaction is to say ‘buy local’. But that isn’t straight forward. What is local? What about products that are not manufactured in this country? And, is it ethical to put overseas farmers, producers and their families out of business simply to follow a populist mantra? There has to be a balance, and we are working towards understanding what that balance should be.” Fortunately, the workplace area of corporate responsibility has not caused so much difficulty in definition. “The health and wellbeing of our staff and customers matters,” said Val. But she goes one step farther in her desire to support a healthy and motivated workforce, with plans to measure and investigate sickness days and absence to see how the company can help and support those who are suffering – a move that she is urging on other leading companies by sitting on BITC’s Business Action on Health committee. And, as Val advocates: “Sustainability is increasingly demanded of business partners – both driven from the top end and also from the public at large who are now asking that business mirrors the public belief and values. And yes, of course, there are business reasons for implementing policies but ultimately, however philanthropic ones’ intentions may be – a business has to be successful, lead from the front and have a rounded policy that doesn’t just pay lip service to the issue”. Aramark already sends more than 300,000 litres of waste cooking oil for conversion to bio-fuel each year. But, much more is promised. “Our clients tell us that they want to see increased recycling, greater composting and a reduction in packaging,” she said. “But, just as importantly, we as a company want to achieve all these things because we believe that it is the right thing to do.” Work is now underway to see how Aramark can improve in these and other environmental areas. Although staff are actively encouraged to contribute their thoughts and suggestions to any of these aspects of corporate responsibility, the fourth area – the community – is the one in which they can visibly make the most difference. “We recognise that all our employees have lives and families outside the workplace,” Val said. “They belong to sports teams, community groups and faith organisations. We ask a lot of our people and their families, so it is only right that, from time to time, we support them and their communities. She added: “Whether it’s reading in schools, decorating a church hall or helping with a local event, we want to find ways to encourage our people to give something back.” She cites the example of how, last year, Aramark “star teams” across the company raised more than £50,000 for the BBC Children in Need appeal. “It was a remarkable effort,” she said, “and made me proud of everyone involved as well as proud to work for such a strong organisation.” A cynic might say that Aramark is merely jumping on the latest bandwagon or corporate fad but, as Val pointed out, if this were the case the company has left it rather late. “Corporate and social responsibility has been around for a number of years,” she said. “And, it is nothing new for Aramark. “We’ve been committed to CSR for many years” she says. “But, we aren’t content to sit still and what we are doing now is taking our existing policies to the next stage and looking at how we can main-stream the concept throughout the entire organisation. Just this month, for example, the company teamed up with the Students’ Union at City College, Plymouth, to host a Fairtrade Festival, and there are countless other examples of our involvement with local groups.” Indeed, if even half of Aramark’s staff takes up the company’s commitment to corporate and social responsibility, this collectively make an enormous difference to the world in which we all live....

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