Case studies

A Good Neighbour volunteer painting a fence

Our case studies illustrate our commitment to each of the different aspects of our CR programme, from increasing customer satisfaction to reducing the contribution we make to climate change.

Read our case studies

At Provident we strive to take a stakeholder-driven approach to corporate responsibility (CR). Through our stakeholder engagement activities, we seek to understand the views and concerns of our stakeholders which helps us to monitor the performance of our CR programme, as well as make sure that it continues to evolve and improve, and address the issues that are material to our business activities.

We have identified six main stakeholder groups that have an interest in, or are affected by, our activities and we continue to develop positive relationships with all of them. They are: customers, communities, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and regulators.

Our stakeholder engagement activities include conducting regular surveys with customers to obtain feedback on the products and services we deliver, continuing to engage with our community partners and employee volunteers in order to enable us to evaluate the efficacy of our community involvement programme and engaging with government and regulators through meetings and by responding to consultation exercises.

In addition, during 2013, we created an online forum which enabled representatives from some of our stakeholder groups to share opinions and securely engage with the company on CR matters. The aim of the forum was to foster transparent discussion among a variety of important stakeholders on CR issues in general, as well as more specific views on the performance and responsibilities of the financial services sector and Provident. Throughout July and August 2013, those who were involved in the forum were asked to provide feedback on the areas where our CR reports could be improved, particularly in relation to how they could be made more accessible to a wider range of stakeholders.

The feedback that stakeholders have provided to us through the online forum will be used to help us to shape the content of our next CR report and ensure that there is continual improvement in the overall performance of our group-wide CR programme.

We provide tailored credit products to 2.7 million non-standard borrowers in the UK and Ireland. This means that being a responsible lender is our most important corporate responsibility.

For us, responsible lending is about delivering products that meet the needs of our customers, whilst ensuring that we do not lend in a way that they cannot afford to repay. We do this by offering simple and transparent financial products delivered through a friendly and flexible service.

Both our operating businesses have rigorous processes and systems in place that underpin the lending decisions that they make. This ensures that we issue credit to new and existing customers at the right time and for the right amount. We maintain high levels of contact with our customers through face-to-face meetings or telephone contact. This means we can discuss any difficulties or queries that they may have at an early stage and agree a course of action to resolve them.

In addition, to creating a working environment that both helps our employees to achieve their potential and our businesses flourish, we recognise the importance of working with local education institutes and training providers to support young people to develop employability skills.

During 2012, our Consumer Credit Division established links with Bradford Council, the Ahead Partnership, National Apprenticeship Service, apprenticeship training providers, other local employers and educational institutions, including Bradford University, Shipley College and Buttershaw School.

This has resulted in:

  • The recruitment of 5 apprentices at Head Office in Catering, People Development, Contact Centre, Agent Services and Business Change.
  • The appointment of 10 ‘Centre of Excellence for Business’ work placements through Shipley College in IT, Business Risk, Customer Contact, People Development, HR Operations, Head Office Facilities, and Finance; and
  • A commitment to supporting students from Bradford Studio School for International Food and Tourism by providing work experience opportunities in our catering facility during 2013.

By ensuring that CR considerations are factored into our purchasing decisions, we can procure goods and services that have positive social, environmental and ethical impacts. We also recognise that, by using local suppliers and encouraging them to manage their own CR impacts, we can play a role to in terms of supporting the development of a sustainable local economy.

Throughout 2012, we continued to provide support to Bradford Chamber’s Eco-Network. The Eco-Network offers a wide range of products and services to help any company in the West Yorkshire district, many of which are part of our supply chain, to try and improve their eco-performance.

We are also working with the Chamber on an initiative called ‘Raising the Bar’ which is seeking to support local SMEs on the wider CR agenda. This initiative aims to help companies receive accreditation and official recognition of their efforts to support the local economy and their CR activities. As CR is becoming increasingly important to win tenders, it is hoped the initiative will not only boost companies’ corporate reputation but also help them win contracts. Businesses that participate in the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative will be assessed on their contribution in four categories: community, economy, education and environment.

As we serve customers in so many communities across the UK and Ireland, we believe we have a duty to be a model corporate citizen and a positive force in people’s lives. We do this by addressing the issues that affect the communities we serve, as well as the wider issues that are material to our business activities.

The majority of our community involvement activities are delivered through our Good Neighbour programme. Through our Good Neighbour programme, we identify and support projects in the communities where our offices and employees are based to address issues that are relevant to the needs of those communities.

During 2012, the three-year funding agreements we entered into with new community partners included:

  • Aberlour in Elgin – Our funding will be used to re-establish its Moray Youth Action programme. Specifically, the programme will work in partnership with Bike Revolutions, a social enterprise which recycles and sells bicycles, to deliver accredited employability training programmes to young people aged 16-19 years.
  • Harvey Girls in Burton-on-Trent – Our funding will contribute to the opening of a new centre, fund a new role to help expand the support that is provided to young parents, and contribute to the overall organisation development and management.
  • One in a Million in Bradford – One in a Million works with Bradford City FC to help children and young people, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our funding will support the salary costs of the community workers and the continuation of after-school youth sessions.

Vanquis Bank runs a separate ‘Active Community Programme’ to encourage employee volunteering and provide support to local charities in London and Chatham, and through the international charity ‘Hatua’ in Nairobi, Kenya.

Managing our carbon footprint is a key part of our environmental management programme. We measure and benchmark our carbon footprint, and aspire to follow best practice in carbon management and reduction.

We do this by purchasing electricity from renewable sources; making use of energy-efficient fixtures and fittings; offering more fuel-efficient vehicles and those that use hybrid technology in our company car fleet; and offsetting our carbon dioxide emissions

During 2012, we offset the carbon emissions associated with the company’s business travel. These business-related journeys accounted for 3,870 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Our emissions were offset through a Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Fuel Switch project in Brazil. The project reduces global carbon emissions through switching from using heavy fuel oil in ceramics factories to renewable biomass and waste products. The projects provide a range of social and environmental benefits such as improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in employee personal development.

By offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions, we can ensure that our environmental programme continues to follow best practice in terms of carbon management, provide tangible evidence to our stakeholders of the measures we have introduced to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations, and further underline the relevance of our core values to the business.