THE BOARD VIEWS CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
AS A SET OF VALUES TO BE EMBEDDED IN THE GROUP’S DAY-TO-DAY
OPERATIONS AND ACTIVITIES.
DAVID LONGBOTTOM // Group Human
The Group has made good progress on a wide range of Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) matters. Our Being the Best
principles require all employees to operate with integrity;
give outstanding service to customers; respect colleagues;
and continually seek ways to improve performance.
In its approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, the
Group seeks to implement these principles
in an operationally and administratively efficient manner,
maximising shareholder value whilst offering benefits to other
The Group operates a CSR Committee, chaired by the Company
Secretary. Social, environmental, ethical and reputational
issues are reviewed and where appropriate mitigating or corrective
arrangements are implemented. The Committee monitors compliance
with legislation, regulations and best practice, including
environmental matters, health and safety, trading standards,
employment, disability and community relations.
The CSR Committee reports to the Group Board. The Group Human
Resources Director is the Executive Director with Board responsibility
for CSR matters, including specific responsibility for environment
and health and safety. During the period, the Committee completed
its initial review of the Group’s CSR position. The
Group Board has considered the results of this systematic
assessment of risks, opportunities and proposals for development.
The Group does not publish a separate CSR statement or report.
Such documents can only provide a snapshot of activity in
a field that is continually changing. Instead, the matters
described below provide a summary of the breadth of Group
CSR activity and the issues which the Board considers to be
most relevant to the Group’s operations. Further information
is available on the corporate website,
www.dixons-group-plc.co.uk where it is updated to reflect
the Group’s most recent position and progress.
The Group has identified the main stakeholders in its business
as investors, customers, employees and their families, business
partners and suppliers, local communities, the environment,
and enforcement authorities. The CSR Committee assesses the
Group’s policy in relation to these stakeholders by
examining the following information:
- standards, codes and other indicators, including voluntary
and statutory reporting;
- measurement, audit or validation of CSR performance by
external sources; and
- legislative, regulatory and best practice developments.
During the year the Group commissioned MBA students at the
London Business School to examine the work of the Committee,
assess the Group’s corporate responsibility position
in relation to a range of indicators and develop proposals
for improvement. The Group has already begun to address the
matters raised in this study, further details of which may
be found on the corporate website.
The Group participates in a limited number of surveys and
questionnaires to benchmark performance and assess progress.
These are chosen for their authority, comprehensiveness and
reach among stakeholder groups. The Group publishes a summary
of answers to frequently asked CSR questions on its website.
In the last Business in the Environment Index of Corporate
Environmental Engagement, the Group’s score was 73 per
cent (2002/03 74 per cent), having increased by eight percentage
points in the previous year. The Group was a constituent member
of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and FTSE4Good
during the period. It achieved ninth position – the
highest score among non-food retailers – in The
Times Corporate Profile series, a two-year assessment
of FTSE 100 companies.
The Group has not previously used special indicators to
assess CSR performance, preferring
to concentrate on interpreting existing performance measures
in CSR terms. However, during the period, the CSR Committee
developed proposals to gather and publish data in the year
ahead, and establish reportable performance indicators. This
reporting will be included in next year’s Annual Report
and Accounts, with interim information available where possible
on the corporate
website. The indicators are:
||Value of donations to good causes
||Waste produced and recycled
||Employee profile by age, gender, ethnicity
|Health and Safety
||Accidents and injuries at Group sites
||Enforcement of the Group’s supply
chain standards code
The Board will review a performance assessment against these
indicators annually. The CSR Committee will review their relevance
During the period the Group donated £875,000 to The
Dixons Foundation, a registered charitable trust. The Group
encourages applications for support from community groups
and small charities, particularly in areas where it has high
concentrations of employees. More than 350 local organisations
benefited from support during the period. The Foundation also
supports larger scale initiatives, particularly in education,
for example sponsoring the Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation
at Edinburgh University and the Dixons City Technology College
Employees in the UK choose charities to support in an organised
campaign under the banner “Charity of the Year”.
The Group’s current campaign is called Action4Disability,
a consortium of four charities: the Parkinson’s Disease
Society, Headway (the Brain Injury Association), the Down’s
Syndrome Association and Action For Blind People. The Group
is on target to raise £450,000 from the campaign during
the European Year of Disabled People.
Supporting local communities
To improve local links and promote good community relationships,
the Group has developed a new resource for local managers
at stores and other Group sites. The Community Kit is an innovation
unique to the Group, providing ideas for local action and
support for community initiatives. Employees are encouraged
to get involved in local projects and the Group has established
an informal network of employee “community champions”
in the UK to support activities and share information.
The Group has introduced community-related training options
for personal and management development including volunteering,
mentoring and skills-transfer opportunities ranging from working
with young offenders to offering management advice to schools
and other local organisations. During the period more than
100 employees volunteered to answer phones and accept donations
at the Group’s call centres in Nottingham and Sheffield
for the Red Nose Day appeal.
In the UK the Group has been instrumental in two new crime
reduction programmes. Working with the Mobile Crime Action
Forum (MICAF) and the Home Office, the Immobilise
campaign has seen mobile phone-related crime – particularly
street thefts – decline significantly, protecting customers
staff, reducing costs and tackling disorder. During the period,
the Group worked with the Home Office, Metropolitan Police
and other retailers to pilot ShopWatch, a project
to increase local police presence in shopping areas by supporting
the training and deployment of Special Constables. The majority
of the new recruits are Group employees.
The Group supports the work of CREATE, which trains disadvantaged
people in domestic appliance repair and provides low-cost
refurbished appliances to local communities. The Group donates
end-of-life appliances for recycling and refurbishment. The
Dixons Foundation this year contributed to a bursary fund
to enable some of CREATE’s customers to receive free
recycled appliances. The Group has established a working partnership
with REMPLOY, a leading provider of employment opportunities
for disabled people.
Integrating environmental concern
The Group is committed to achieving high standards of environmental
management by integrating environmental policies into core
business processes wherever possible. The Group does this
- increasing the understanding of environmental impact by
measurement, analysis and comparison;
- raising awareness by pursuing dialogue with interested
- reducing impacts through a proactive programme of environmental
During the period, the Group published formal policy statements
on energy and waste management. These are available on the
website, together with examples of programmes aimed at reinforcing
them. As part of the Group’s move towards formal CSR
indicators, environmental data will also be published on the
The Group continues to monitor developments in advance of
the implementation, next year, of the Waste Electronic and
Electrical Equipment Directive. The Group’s existing
recycling arrangements are supported by customers and already
deliver significant benefits to the environment by reducing
the inappropriate disposal of many larger domestic electrical
appliances. The Group is encouraging legislators to recognise
these social and environmental benefits.
PACKAGE WASTE RECYCLING PER YEAR IN
The Group’s reduced-plastic carrier bags saved 262 tonnes
of plastic last year. During the period, the Group introduced
new 100 per cent recycled carrier bags, the first such product
to be widely available from a branded retailer. The bags are
made in the UK from post consumer plastic waste generated
in the UK. Every tonne of bags made saves the equivalent of
1.8 tonnes of oil. The Group and its supplier Nelson Packaging
won the Best Environmental Initiative category at
the 2004 Plastics Industry Awards for the new bags.
The tables above give the Group’s UK performance against
previously reported environmental indicators and show a reduction
in packaging waste delivered in part by efforts to encourage
suppliers to use less packaging.
An inclusive workplace
The Group seeks to provide equal opportunities to all its
employees regardless of age, sex, colour, race, religion or
ethnic origin. The Group’s flexible working arrangements
attract and help retain the best people. An independent employee
assistance programme offers free advice and support across
a range of practical, financial, legal and personal issues.
Respect for People and Being the Best, the
Group’s flagship values programmes, help create an environment
free from harassment, bullying and discrimination, with strong
team spirit and a common sense of purpose.
The Group seeks to engage all employees in both its short
and long-term goals. This is achieved through management briefings,
focus groups, audiovisual presentations, newsletters and intranets.
The Group’s employee newspaper, Frontline,
has been awarded the Plain English Campaign’s Crystal
Mark for clarity. Employee feedback is obtained through surveys
which shape the design of reward and training programmes and
help the Group maintain appropriate employment policies.
The Chief Executive chairs the Dixons Group European Forum,
a body of elected employee representatives. Group businesses
operate local forums of elected representatives that provide
the framework for consultation.
Performance and reward
The Group maintains a strong focus on performance management
to identify and develop high performers and help employees
to be more effective in their roles. Bespoke training programmes
equip employees with the skills needed to provide excellent
customer service at all levels. The Group operates four levels
of management training run in conjunction with leading academic
institutions. Over 80 per cent of the first graduates of the
Group’s Executive Development Programme have now been
promoted. In the UK, the Group arranges language training
classes for employees.
The Group operates a number of share schemes that encourage
employees’ direct contribution to achievement of Group
and divisional goals and reward individual and collective
success. Details are contained in the Remuneration Report.
Sharesave schemes in which there are approximately 5,000 participants
are operated in the UK and Ireland. More than 12,000 employees
throughout the Group participate in discretionary share option
The Group’s PC ServiceCall business in Nottingham
beat international competition to be named Best Place
to Work in IT by Computer Weekly magazine. The
award reflects the Group’s focus on high performance
Disability issues and customer service
The Group is a member of the Employers’ Forum on Disability
and maintains its strong focus on disability issues. The Group
has conducted store and website accessibility audits and mystery
shopping, refreshed its training procedures, constructed an
intranet-based learning resource
for employees and is well advanced in preparations for the
implementation of further provisions of the Disability Discrimination
Act in October 2004.
The Group is pleased to have achieved Positive About
Disability status, represented by the “two ticks”
symbol. The Link store in Leeds won a National DeafBlind Friendly
Award during the year.
Any part of the Annual Report and Accounts, or any other
document from the corporate website, is available in alternative
formats on request to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by telephoning 01727 204474 or minicom 01727 206753.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Policy and procedures
The Group Human Resources Director is responsible for health
and safety at Board level. The Board has approved a new health
and safety policy statement. The Group has established a comprehensive
health and safety training plan for UK personnel and is taking
a fresh look at risk assessments for its stores. The Group
has introduced new performance management tools, including
more regular reporting of data to senior management and improved
focus on risk assessment and legislative compliance. Locally,
procedures are reviewed regularly in health and safety forums
and by operations managers. The Group is on course to bring
overseas procedures in line with the high standards achieved
in the UK. A copy of the Group health and safety report is
published on the website.
The Group offers an employee assistance programme, operates
a formal stress recognition and management policy and a rehabilitation
programme for employees injured at work. The management of
occupational road risk features prominently in the Group’s
strategy for reducing motor vehicle accidents. Store-based
employees receive guidance on handling potentially violent
situations and avoiding confrontation.
The safety of customers, suppliers and other visitors is
treated with equal importance. Stores
are required to carry out weekly health and safety checks
to identify and make good shortcomings.
A quality assurance programme exists for all products. Close
relationships with suppliers promote effective product testing
and regular inspections of manufacturing facilities. The Group
operates robust product recall procedures which, despite considerable
growth in unit sales, are still called upon less than once
a year on average.
The Group’s performance on health and safety is shown
in the data table. The Group regrets to report that one of
its employees died in tragic circumstances. Ian Jones, based
at the Group’s distribution centre at Erith, was killed
by criminals who stole his delivery vehicle. The Group has
closely supported his family and colleagues as well as offering
every possible assistance to the authorities investigating
Supply chain management
The Group has continued to audit own-brand suppliers in Asia
against its ethical procurement standards, although progress
this year was slowed by the SARS outbreak. One supplier was
de-listed during the year for non-compliance. The Group has
begun assessing the extent to which branded suppliers meet
the criteria adopted for own-brand products and good progress
has been made to date in securing agreements on acceptable
During the period, the Group in the UK has consulted widely
with enforcement authorities to identify, address and rectify
issues relating to trading standards performance. Our Building
Bridges programme to develop better links, has created
valuable dialogue with various local authorities and national
bodies. Outcomes to date include better procedures for handling
queries from enforcement authorities, new mystery shopping
exercises, and better information sharing on standards issues.
Payment of suppliers
It is the Group’s policy to agree terms of payment with
its suppliers. Payments are made in accordance with these
terms provided that the supplier has complied with all relevant
contractual obligations. Trade creditors at 1 May 2004 represented
35 days of annual purchases made during the period (3 May
2003 38 days).
All senior managers must certify annually their compliance
with the Group’s internal statement of ethical conduct.
The Group’s policies on gifts and inducements conform
with the highest standards of business practice and avoid
real or potential conflicts of interest or conflict with legal
requirements in the markets where it operates. The Group has
rewritten its policy on “whistle-blowing” to include
a facility for employees to contact an independent body to
register concerns. The Group acknowledges with gratitude the
assistance of the charity Public Concern at Work
in developing this policy.
The Group does not generally respond to untargeted
surveys and questionnaires about CSR related issues. The information
provided here, on the website, and elsewhere within this Report
and Accounts addresses many common CSR questions. The Group
will however consider reasonable requests for further information.
These should be directed to the Company Secretary.
Group Human Resources Director