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
Five core values have underpinned our business for many years – being fair, responsible, accessible, straightforward and progressive.
Over the past 18 months we have undertaken work to formalise and articulate these values and to embed each within our business. To co-ordinate this activity we have established an Embedding Values Steering Group.
The group comprises representatives from a range of functions and its goal is to engage with colleagues across the business to embed our values within policies, processes and procedures, and assist in the communication of the values to staff and other external stakeholders.
Based on recommendations from the group, information on the values is now included in the company’s induction process and training programmes, embedded within appraisal processes and incorporated into a range of customer procedures. The steering group also co-ordinates an annual performance review to measure performance against each of the values.
In this way we can ensure that our employees understand and sign up to the values, and that they guide our behaviour in every aspect of our work and our relationships with stakeholders.
We are committed to ensuring that our lending is always conducted in a responsible manner. This means providing our customers with clear information on our products and their charges and not lending more than they can afford, so that they can make informed choices and not be overstretched with their repayments.
Our understanding of our customers, allied with our responsible lending processes, enables us to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. In the Consumer Credit Division, 91% of home credit customers rate their home credit experience as being either very satisfactory or quite satisfactory. At Vanquis Bank, 84% of Vanquis customers rated the service they received as being satisfactory or extremely satisfactory.
91% of home credit customers rate the service we provide as being either very satisfactory or quite satisfactory.
Training and development is essential to the long-term success of our business, as well as being a key part of our CR commitment to our employees. Giving our staff opportunities to learn and improve their skills contributes towards their job satisfaction, improves their effectiveness and improves the high-quality service we provide our customers.
In 2007, both the Consumer Credit Division and Vanquis Bank launched new Learning Management Systems, which enable all employees to access a range of role-related computer-based training (CBT) courses via our intranets.
Apart from helping staff improve their skills, being intranet-based, the new systems enable us to compile accurate data about the training we deliver. CBT courses delivered to staff have included changes to the Consumer Credit Act, Treating Customers Fairly, Data Protection Act and complaint handling processes.
Ensuring that we purchase products and services that have minimal impacts on the environment and are socially responsible is a key component of our CR programme.
During 2009 we initiated a project to implement new waste management and recycling facilities within our head office and the Consumer Credit Division's network of almost 400 branch offices.
To find the right supplier for the project we used CR questionnaires at the pre-qualification and invitation-to-tender stages of the procurement process to elicit social, environmental and ethical information from prospective candidates. We also carried out a number of site audits of potential suppliers to verify their compliance with our own environmental, health and safety and data protection policies.
Based on the responses we received we were able to choose a supplier that will work with us to introduce measures to increase our recycling rates, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and, ultimately, minimise the waste generated in our branch offices.
Not only will this work improve our environmental credentials, it will also provide bottom-line benefits to our business through more efficient use of resources and the reduction in costs associated with the disposal of waste to landfill.
We recognise that climate change is the biggest environmental and socio-economic challenge to confront our customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders and we are committed to minimising our impact in this area.
Since 2006, we have undertaken a range of activities to make our company car fleet more environmentally friendly and reduce the contribution we make to climate change. This has involved offering more fuel-efficient company cars, including those that use hybrid technology, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
A review carried out by the Energy Saving Trust in 2007 found that the average carbon dioxide emissions for our company car fleet was 137 g/km, which is considerably lower than the UK average for new vehicles, which stands at 167 g/km.
Good Neighbour projects support communities in each of our seven regional divisions, as well as in Ireland. In addition, staff from our head office in Bradford work with local community organisations as part of the programme.
One of the projects that is funded by the division where our head office is based is the Sedbergh Youth and Community Centre, which serves the areas of Odsal, Buttershaw, Woodside and Wyke in Bradford. Over the next three years, Good Neighbour funding will be provided for two part-time posts, a centre development worker and a project co-ordinator, along with additional funding for new activities including a young at heart pensioner group, parent and toddler group, youth club, mini tennis coaching and school holiday project.
In addition to funding, 140 employee volunteers took part in three team challenges at the centre during 2009. As a result of the challenges, the centre has been totally regenerated and given a new lease of life, with a rundown meeting room converted into a dance studio and a space for community meetings and other group activities.
I’m delighted with the marvellous job the team have done and I can honestly say that the community centre has not looked this good since 1968. It will make a tremendous difference to the children’s lives.
We are proud of our work at the centre and were delighted when Good Neighbour recently won the Best Business Community Contribution award at the Telegraph & Argus Bradford’s Best Community Awards.
In addition to providing benefits to the local community, the team challenges that we facilitate for our staff benefit our business by contributing to job satisfaction, motivating staff and providing them with new skills that can be transferred into the workplace.
Spark, which started in 2006, links theatres with schools in their local areas and encourages children to succeed through stimulating arts activities. Eight theatres across the UK and Ireland are taking part in the project, which involves children in primary schools.
In 2007, Spark made a significant contribution to schools in a small Edinburgh community. Two of the Spark Schools in the city – the Roman Catholic St Joseph’s Primary School and non-denominational Broomhouse Primary School – share the same grounds but had never come together to work on a project. Spark enabled both schools to join forces to celebrate the arts together – a first for each school.
I think it [Spark] is very important, especially in this kind of area. We are in a Positive Action Area so our type of children don’t and won’t have puppet experience or theatre experience. For many, the trip to the [Edinburgh] Lyceum was the first time they had visited a theatre.
DebtCred is a national charity that prepares school students for university life or employment by educating them about the sensible use of credit, personal financial management and the hazards of overindebtedness.
We provide DebtCred with financial support that enables the organisation to offer free financial education sessions for schools, particularly those in areas where we are likely to have customers.
In Wolverhampton we have been helping DebtCred to run its Enterprise Challenge event during Enterprise Week since 2006. The event both educates and inspires pupils by setting them a challenge based around prudent finance and economic well-being.
The latest Wolverhampton challenge, which took place in November 2009, focused on life goals. Students were challenged to come up with ideas for developing and setting up a business, looking particularly at franchises. A group of business experts provided advice on areas such as marketing and business planning and helped students to use the new tools and knowledge they had gained to develop their ideas.
The event was run in associations with the local Education Business Partnership and a number of volunteers from local businesses acted as facilitators to the teams. At the end of the session students presented their work to a panel of judges who awarded prizes to the most promising ideas.
The Enterprise Challenge model has proved very successful and has been used in other schools across the country. During 2009 we held two similar events involving local schools in Bradford, where our head office is based.
DebtCred can make a real difference to financial understanding through the delivery and development of effective money management activities to young people thanks to the specific funding we receive from Provident Financial.