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What matters most

Shaping our priorities

Housebuilding requires long-term investment, so we continually engage with a diverse array of stakeholders, commission research and insight studies to help us align the wider social, economic and environmental risks and opportunities with our business strategy.

In summary the ‘issues that matter most’ are informed by:

  • Consulting widely within our employees
  • Referring to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability indicators
  • Mapping sustainability risks and opportunities
  • Creating a framework of ‘issues that matter most’
  • Direct engagement, structured interviews, commissioning research and holding workshops with key stakeholders
  • Opinions, insights and challenges offered by internal stakeholders and industry knowledge combined with social and environmental expertise
  • Insights from our participation in sustainability benchmarking indices (NextGeneration, Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • Technical expertise from external advisors and partners
  • Good practice guidelines from industry bodies and trade organisations


How we identified ‘What Matters Most’?

In 2014 we actively engaged internally and externally with key stakeholders to better understand the most important sustainability issues for our business. We did this by:

  • Taking a long list of possible social, economic and environmental issues (informed by the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement, 4 Customer Workshops in Bristol and Nottingham, and research and insight gathered through industry forums), and asking our stakeholders to comment as a whole and to rank the most important issues, and their level of satisfaction with our performance.
  • We undertook structured interviews internally with 18 Managing Directors and Regional Managing Directors; conducted a workshop with 22 of our second year graduates. We also issued questionnaires to our material suppliers, (81 or 55% of which responded), and conducted structured interviews with joint venture partners (L&Q, British Land), the RSPB, the HCA and Next Generation. The shortlist of key sustainability issues that matter most was then used to inform thinking on the development of our vision, priorities and principles, which also involved 8 graduates and 11 senior managers.
  • The 12 issues were summarised and approved by the Executive team, integrated into our principal risks and uncertainties and used as the basis for our sustainability reporting, and business review within the Annual Report and Accounts in 2014.

During 2015 we sought to refine our thinking to clarify the issues, and the reasons why they matter most to our stakeholders and to our business. This thinking was informed by:

  • Feedback from benchmark studies; research and insight; a further supplier survey involving 71 materials suppliers; and specific structured interviews with the UK Green Building Council, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). We made adjustments to improve the definition each issue and we gave a clear outline of why the issue is important to us and our stakeholders.
  • Each ‘issue that matters most’ has a clear, long term aspiration or goal, senior management accountability with an action plan for each issue which is developed within the annual business planning cycle.
  • Our principal risks and uncertainties, supported by our shortlist of issues that matter most guides the development of our sustainability framework and informs what is disclosed via our Sustainability Report.

In 2016, following the change of Chief Executive, we took the opportunity to launch a full materiality process. We identified six material issues that are key to creating value for all our stakeholders.