How we balance environmental, social and economic priorities over the long term.
Published July 2023
Policy brief & purpose
Our Corporate Social Environmental Responsibility (CSER) company policy refers to our approach to do sustainable business. We have responsibilities toward our environment, society, local community, the economy, the ecology, as well as our customers and colleagues. We consider the social and environmental consequences of our actions. Sustainability is one of our key company objectives and all strategies have sustainability embedded within them.
Our governance policy is also included herewith.
This policy applies to our companies. It also refers to suppliers and partners.
Materiality assessment – our business is in the service sector – the education and care of small children, and the training of adults so the material issues are
- how we care for people,
- in the products that we buy and use to sustain this service,
- in the environment that we provide to deliver these services and
- in the transport and communications systems that we use to support these services.
We are a responsible business that meets the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.
- Respects the law
- Honours its internal policies
- Ensures that all its business operations are legitimate
- Keeps every partnership and collaboration open and transparent
We conduct business with integrity and respect to human rights.
- Safety and fair dealing
- Respect toward the consumer
- Anti-bribery and anti-corruption practices
- Supply chain checks to ensure that we do not benefit from slavery or unethical practices from those from whom we purchase any products or resources.
- We challenge suppliers to deliver goods with more respect for carbon footprint and clean air, and also with less packaging and waste.
- The Group recognises it has a legal and social responsibility to pay the right amount of tax due and has a tax strategy policy that is available on request outlining its approach to this responsibility.
Positive Impact on People – children, parents, colleagues, learners
Our purpose is to provide care and education to children, to support their parents, and these impacts are measured through our KPIs, and in line with the United Nations Sustainability Goals. Our expectation is for all children to reach at least good levels of development, ensuring that children meet the grade descriptors within their age bracket.
Our purpose is also to provide meaningful careers to our colleagues and learners, and these impacts are also measured through our KPIs and in line with the United Nations Sustainability Goals.
We also promote our colleagues and volunteers health and well-being through a range of initiatives such as providing drinking water and fresh fruit at all locations, free snacks at meetings which take colleagues allergies and intolerances into account as well as being vegan and plastic free, free counselling (anonymous), financial contributions towards dental, opticians, prescriptions and medical health (see staff welcome pack). We provide advice on our website for a range of conditions and support needs, and demonstrate anti-discriminating and inclusive recruitment and retention policy and practices, as well as values that embrace British Values and family values. (See the Company Vision, Mission and Values statements).
Our recruitment and retention policies, procedures and improvements are documented to evidence the many improvements being made – see 52 improvements in 52 weeks for 2019.
We ensure that we:
- Don’t risk the health and safety of our employees and community (see H&S Manual, Risk Assessments)
- Avoid harming the lives of local people.
- Support diversity and inclusion.
- Take economic responsibility
- Risk Registers and Access Statements are kept for each building, for specific vulnerable adults and children as appropriate, and will be kept for each department and for the company as a whole.
We are a committed equal opportunity employer and will abide by all fair labour practices. We ensure that our activities do not directly or indirectly violate human rights in any country (e.g. forced labour). We engage in quality of gender pay, reporting and reducing any gaps if identified.
Donations and aid – Philanthropic giving.
Our company aims to preserve a budget to make monetary donations to our 2 charities, GECCO and the Employee Trust, of 1% of EBITDA for each. Colleagues are also able to contribute a monthly sum to the Employee Trust and then have a voice in the beneficiaries of the aid. These donations aim to:
- Alleviate those in need.
- Support sustainability education and actions. All our actions are viewed through an improving the sustainability window to ensure that we work to constantly reduce our impact and improve how we do business in order to continue to do this.
- We work in partnership with a range of different organisations such as hospitals and care homes (intergenerational childcare and education together with those on the elderly and dementia wards), sharing activities and music to benefit both generations. We also take part in local community events such as fetes, fairs and carnivals.
- GECCO, Green Early Years Choices Champions Organisation is a registered charity. The charity has been set up to support children, parents, and colleagues in the Early Years Sector to encourage and educate people to be more sustainable for the future of the planet.
Colleagues wishing to arrange a fundraising event to support GECCO would contact one of the trustees;
We also support a range of relevant charities appropriate to the interests of the children and colleagues at each nursery and office.
Our company welcomes volunteers from other organizations such as children on work experience from schools, young people who are not yet ready to be employed, adults wishing to experience working with young children, in our establishments. We work with partner organisations such as the local churches, hospitals, care homes to encourage more intergenerational volunteers recognising that “retired” adults benefit as much as the children from spending time together in our settings.
Our companies enable its colleagues to volunteer through flexible time arrangements. Colleagues can volunteer through programs organized internally or externally if they so wish but there is no pressure at all to do this. In fact they are contributing to social impact through the work they do already, which is underpaid due to the culture of doing this in the community, local politics and national politics. Our companies may engage in social events organised by other charities such as the Rotary Club to fund raise for local charities and communities. Our colleagues may engage in initiatives led at nursery level, such as food banks, and shared resources (such as nappies, craft materials, recycling collections)
Preserving and protecting the natural environment
As well as our legal obligations, our companies will proactively protect the environment. Examples of relevant activities include:
- Stopping, or reducing purchasing of resources, particularly one-use plastic, (see purchasing policy)
- Checking sustainability of all purchases, an embedded and integral part of any purchasing or resourcing decision.
- Refusing, Recycling, Re-using, Reducing waste. Upcycling others waste.
- Conserving energy
- Using environmentally-friendly and renewable technologies
- Reducing our use of fossil fuels.
- Avoiding purchase or use of anything that will pollute the air we breathe.
- Working with suppliers in our supply chain to improve our impact, i.e. on our joint carbon footprint, air pollution, plastic pollution, if necessary changing suppliers in order to reduce our impact, if affordable.
- Monitoring the purchasing reports for any purchases that have not complied with sustainable purchasing policies so that mistakes can be rectified, training put in place to prevent these continuing, recognising that becoming more sustainable is a process not a single result, and that technologies and process can and must improve in order to address the climate change and extinction of species crisis.
- Working with colleagues, children and learners, customers and suppliers, and those in our networks, to learn together, to teach when there are opportunities to do so and to role model a leading and inspirational example of sustainability in the early years and training sectors.
Our companies recognize the need to protect the natural environment. Keeping our environment clean and unpolluted is a benefit to all. We follow best practices when disposing of waste and using chemical substances and reducing greenhouse gases. Stewardship and role modelling play an important role in our company.
Supporting the community
Our company supports colleagues wishing to engage in charities that are important to them in their private lives as well as in their work lives. We do not feel the need to publish these as company supported actions, no list is maintained to record this impact.
Our company initiates and supports sustainability initiatives and education through our registered charity, GECCO, by contributing a percentage 1% of EBITDA per year, plus colleagues contribute working hours as appropriate.
Our company provides funds, a percentage 1% of EBITDA per year, to the Trust in cash plus colleagues contribute working hours to provide the infrastructure, and referral system for members of staff to engage with our Trust in funding through normal working hours, both as contributors (from salaries and/or fund raising) and as beneficiaries.
Our company can provide support to non-profit organizations or movements to promote sustainable, cultural or economic development of global and local communities.
Our company engages with national fund raising and awareness events such as Jeans for Genes, Red Nose Day, and also with Festivals from different cultures that are represented in our local communities/work places such as Chinese New Year and Diwali. The upcoming events are announced once a month at the managers meetings, and included in Social Media content for cascading throughout the company.
Our company engages with charities such as Surfers Against Sewage (Plastic Free Schools, beach cleans); Eco Schools (external accreditation); Just One Ocean (micro plastic surveys)
Learning and Educating
Our expertise and reputation lies in our colleague’s expertise and performance and therefore we actively invest in their continuous professional development, offering up to 32 days of training per year. We actively invest in R&D such as in EYMAN, which helps to reduce our impact on the environment through effective and efficient IT. We are open to further suggestions and listen carefully to ideas. Our company tries to c improve the way it operates continuously and to share good practice. We share good practice in sustainability in our sector also on our GECCO charity website.
- Impact on child development is measured on EYMAN, (early stages so targets have not been developed yet)
- Impact on use of nappies, and use of one-use nappies is also to be measured on EYMAN (in pilot stages)
- Impact on staff of training – promotion records (early stages on EYMAN) shows that progression from unqualified through the company, even to Directorship is significant.
- Training Needs analysis is completed and updated for every nursery – showing progression and improvement in %s of staff with key qualifications.
- Financial Impact of the company on those working – again early days on EYMAN and we are expecting that these results will show that most staff are under the average wage, many on minimum wage or and many on less than living wage and therefore living in deprivation. We need the support of local and national politicians and press in order to improve this situation as the sector is underfunded, the second worse in the OECD, with insufficient investment being put into the early years, a serious misjudgement on the part of the governments of the day. (Hence our involvement with founding the APPG)
Sustainable Transport Policy
Every location that the organisation works from has a green transport policy relevant to that location, including public transport such as bus routes, train stations, advice and information for walkers and cyclists, car sharing opportunities, moving to electric rather than petrol or diesel, with the aim of reducing our carbon impact and air quality impact on the community.
Leadership, Accreditations and Benchmarking
As well as leadership from the Founder and Directors, all colleagues are encouraged to take leadership rolls to challenge and develop innovative and general progress towards a more sustainable, ethical, healthy and safe way of working.
We expect and work to be inspirational role models of sustainability in our sector. This is evidenced in speaking engagements undertaken, awards achieved, PR achieved, and our founding the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for early years for Westminster MPs.
Board members are predominantly female, reflecting the composition of the company – there is no glass ceiling for females in this company.
Diversity is celebrated and there is a robust anti-discrimination policy, reflected in the composition of colleagues. (see Gender Pay and Diversity reports) but specific successes are 7% male nursery practitioners against a 2% national average, 5% registered blue badge disabled colleagues at head office.
We are fully engaged with ESOS and have an action plan based on opportunities for improvement identified during the surveys.
We held IIP for over 15 years and continue to exceed the original standards, but did not apply for re-inspection or the Gold Standard due to the costs. We do our own questionnaires on survey monkey to guide improvements and engage in external surveys to give us benchmarking information.
We work with our Stakeholders such as Ofsted, DFE, Pension Providers, Bankers and Suppliers to put ESG/CSER at the heart of their services.
We hold the Matrix Standard in Aspire Training Team – which is mandatory – and assesses Information, Advice and Guidance given to potential learners/apprentices.
We have developed our own Eco Awards for those settings doing best across a whole range of sustainability initiatives.
Signed on behalf of Aspire Training Team.
CEO of Aspire Training Team