We are committed to a sustainable future for all our clients in which their companies prosper. Our approach is simple – to work with the world’s leading brands to deliver change. We do this by acknowledging that how we behave as a business transformation specialist will contribute to how transformational that change can be for the environment and communities within which we and our clients operate.
Formed in 2011, “Change Reimagined” has been key to how we approach business transformation and we have sought to embed our values in everything we do. We have always believed that how we run our business, as much as how we embed sustainability into our consultative approach, will determine our part in creating this sustainable future. Alignment of the two is pivotal. Performance at Venquis is therefore as much about long term stewardship as it is about financial performance as the two are interdependent. This forms the basis of our Stewardship Policy.
Fundamental to our journey is our preference to develop an authentic, robust approach to stewardship; it is an approach which is aligned to our clients, led by our consultants and true to our values and culture. We expect our Stewardship Policy to evolve as we continue to enhance our understanding of environmental, social and governance issues and as our consultants both learn from and contribute to our industry’s thinking in this area.
Venquis is an owner led and managed business where colleagues are invited to participate in the long-term success of the business through our long-term incentive plan. We are fortunate that our independence and ownership structure allow us to take a longer-term perspective in our decision making and whether we are acting as long-term stewards is a question considered in every business decision.
First and foremost, stewardship is about how we can conduct our business in a way that has a positive impact on the environment and society. For us this represents a huge opportunity. As a business transformation specialist, we have thought about how we fulfil roles; bringing diversity of talent to those roles and acting as a lever of change in client organisations by integrating stewardship into our consultancy service.
ESG Risk Assessment
Each year we undertake a materiality assessment of our key environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks using the Sustainability Accounting Standards Boards criteria on data security, workforce diversity and engagement, and professional integrity. Our Stewardship team report ESG risks and opportunities to the Board as part of our triple bottom line reporting.
Given performance at Venquis is as much about long term stewardship as it is about financial performance, we have also integrated ESG risks and opportunities for the business into individual KPIs in our competency framework for team members of all levels. Our Stewardship Policy forms a key part of our induction process and a commitment to it is part of our conditions of employment as detailed in our Employee Handbook. We believe that we are accountable to our stakeholders for our ESG performance and so ESG performance metrics are linked to performance related pay, to align our behaviours with our long-term objectives.
Stakeholder Advisory Committee
We have a Stakeholder Advisory Committee which comprises colleagues from different parts of the company who report to each of the Executive and Non-Executive Board twice annually on issues that they’d like to raise. One of the Committee represents colleagues on the Board and this position is rotated to allow for a diversity of voices to be heard. In time we would be open to broadening this to include other stakeholders from our clients or the broader community.
We are committed to providing an exceptional service to our clients, and we believe that the best way of achieving this is through investing in our people’s development, health and happiness. We have one of the best retention rates in the industry, and we feel our investment in our people is one of the key reasons why.
We pride ourselves on our sustained continuity of service to our clients. The Board monitors and measures our employee turnover to ensure we are providing an environment that can develop to the evolving needs of our team. They also consider the impact of any business decision on the long-term interest of our employees to ensure that our supportive working environment is sustained.
Development and Financial Security
We are committed to developing our colleagues professionally and personally. During our Induction Programme colleagues are trained in our Stewardship Programme and the purpose driven ethos of Venquis. Training may include specific ESG risks and opportunities for their sectors as well as learning about other issues such as diversity and our community programme. Venquis has a Personal Development Planning Scheme to help managers identify and meet learning needs. We provide each colleague with at least 32 hours’ training per year tailored around their needs and set learning & development goals in each quarterly appraisal. We also actively encourage our colleagues to pursue their interests outside of work and to get involved in our community programmes, as we believe that the multitude of experiences that our consultants bring to client discussions serves to enrich the Venquis experience.
We are committed to the material wellbeing of our colleagues and pay our team a market leading pay and commission scheme combined with a range of other benefits such as our Health Scheme which are detailed in our Employee Handbook. Our approach extends to temporary colleagues such as interns who we ensure are treated fairly and remunerated for their work. Inevitably, occasionally, things go wrong but our disciplinary process is also based on a premise of fairness and takes a conciliatory approach using counselling to resolve the issue where possible.
We are committed to providing flexible working as detailed in our Flexible Working Policy as we recognise that a good work-life balance can help colleagues manage their work responsibilities with family and care responsibilities. We also recognise that a good work-life balance is important for health and well-being, for the sharing of parental responsibilities and for retaining and motivating our team.
We believe that the challenges around maternity and childcare are a particular focus for us and through a combination of our parental leave policy, maternity and paternity leave policies and childcare vouchers we strive to provide a supportive environment.
Ultimately, we’d like our team to view Venquis as a place that can support them through the different stages in their family life. We are cognisant that the UK has low take up of paternity leave and that this, along with other challenges, has an impact on women returning to the workforce, and so we seek to encourage a culture where parental responsibilities are shared and where the take up of paternity leave is to be actively encouraged.
We also have a range of other leaves such as compassionate leave and policies such as occupational sick pay to support our team through difficult periods in life. Our policies are detailed in our Employee Handbook and we welcome discussion around ideas of best practice from other sectors or countries as our approach evolves.
Health and Safety
We have a young workforce, which is something we are proud of, however, we are aware that this comes with additional responsibilities, particularly when considering mental health. People between the ages of 18 and 30 are the most likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and so we have a number of initiatives in place to provide an industry leading level of support. We train all of our leaders in mental health in the workplace to ensure that they can provide support, and we run quarterly mental health awareness events with all colleagues. In addition to this, we offer internal counselling and fund professional counselling sessions for anyone in the business who requires them. Our Health Scheme also has a number of discounts with organisations such as Headspace and Champney’s, which promotes wellbeing more generally.
As our colleagues largely have sedentary jobs, we recognise our responsibility in encouraging them to lead an active lifestyle. Every member of our team has a premium Health Scheme with Vitality, which includes 50% off David Lloyd and Virgin Active gym memberships, discounts on activity trackers and we run free yoga and personal training sessions weekly.
Our team are often out meeting people and so in our induction process and Employee Handbook we set out some basic principles to ensure that none of our team are put in a compromising or potentially dangerous situation. Our procedures around accidents, first aid and fire safety are all set out in our Employee Handbook.
Venquis is committed to valuing diversity and we believe that people from different backgrounds bring fresh ideas, thinking and approaches, which is the key to a successful team. Furthermore, this is one of the key areas of focus for our annual ESG Risk Assessment. This approach starts from the moment we recruit someone where we ensure that our role descriptions are attracting a diversity of talent, to thinking about our own hidden biases and developing our thought leadership on this issue. We believe that the working environment should at all times be supportive of the dignity and respect of individuals. We conduct blind pay reviews to ensure that we do not have a gender pay gap or a pay gap based on other risk factors such as ethnicity or background. Our Employee Handbook outlines our policy on Diversity and Dignity at Work which helps to ensure a supportive working environment for all our team.
To track how we perform in these areas, we conduct a quarterly company-wide climate survey and have a Stakeholder Advisory Committee to ensure that employee satisfaction is at the heart of what we do.
Acting as agents of change we are very much aware of the impact individuals can have on businesses they go into, and we are therefore continuously encouraging our consultants to discuss ESG challenges with clients, candidates and HR contacts. As part of delivering ‘change reimagined’ for our clients in a way that is rooted in our values, we are committed to ensuring that we are integrating ESG considerations at all stages of the client experience.
Our Consultative Process
We have identified key ESG challenges within our main sectors in which we specialise i.e. Insurance, Financial Services and Retail and have used this knowledge to develop thought leadership pieces that are used by our consultants to stimulate discussion around these issues. With candidates we introduce these challenges in the first meeting to help them understand how they might act as an agent of positive change within client organisations. For Human Resources contacts we introduce this conversation during quarterly business reviews to understand current challenges they are facing and how we can partner with them to support this.
Within clients we engage with the C-suite level to understand if they have considered the future ESG challenges of their organisations. In turn this should enhance the Venquis experience for clients by enhancing their appeal as a potential employer and for candidates by inspiring them to make a difference in their new role. By promoting thought leadership across these three levels of stakeholders we want to ensure we are using the platform we have as a business to be a force for a business transformation that is sustainable.
The journey with our candidates does not stop there as once we place them, we ensure through the Venquis Contractor Club that our contractors are regularly updated with upcoming ESG initiatives within our business that they can partake in. We also use our regular meetings to understand how they are acting as an agent of change for the organisation they are working for. To ensure we are developing best practice we actively seek regular feedback from candidates and clients to develop our own thinking with client led examples to foster cross industry learning.
Alignment of Interests
At Board level, the impact of a business decision on the long-term interest of our clients is integral, and the importance of our long-term client relationship overrides factors such as quarterly results. An advantage of being an owner led and managed business is that we can align ourselves with our clients and are not subject to the short-term pressures of financial markets. We actively encourage our consultants to think in the long-term best interest of clients through our training and also by aligning their incentives through our competency framework.
To ensure that our consultants are acting in the best interests of our candidates and clients, we track customer and candidate satisfaction throughout the recruitment process. This score is linked to consultants’ pay, with the highest performers receiving additional commission. In addition to this, we provide additional training for consultants who have what we consider to be low satisfaction scores. We feel that this gives us the best chance of ensuring that every encounter someone has with a representative of Venquis is a positive experience.
Our Employee Handbook sets our out policies on bribery and corruption, confidentiality, data protection and conflict of interest, which seek to ensure that our clients experience the highest ethical standards at all times.
We commit to evaluating all our marketing decisions not just from a commercial perspective but also from an ethical perspective. We consider carefully whether our marketing partners take their responsibilities with respect to content seriously, especially when partnering with social media or internet companies. We seek to ensure that we do not inadvertently condone content which is discriminatory or dangerous to certain groups. We ensure our messaging in our own marketing communications is transparent, trustworthy and aligned with our Venquis values.
Diversity in Client Organisations
We always aim to attract a diversity of talent to client organisations, rather than simply filling roles. We support our clients to help them boost diversity in their hiring policies and think about hidden biases in their recruitment processes. We are working to understand our own hidden biases and use tools such as gender de-coders to examine how we formulate role descriptions. We are working with experts to understand and dissect the impact of gendered language used in role descriptions and to research different ways of formulating role briefs to attract candidates who otherwise wouldn’t have thought the role was for them.
As the recruitment world increasingly uses AI, we are seeking to better understand the implications for diversity of talent, as data sets have their own biases which algorithms can amplify. All consultants are trained using our 'Venquis Diversity Commitment' toolkit which encourages our clients to boost diversity in their hiring policies and unlock a broader talent pool. We have also set up a “Women in Business & IT Transformation” forum which recognises a shortage of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and provides women working in this area with the opportunity to network and attend relevant events.
We view clients as long-term partners and we aim to partner with companies who take their social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We consider carefully whether to align with businesses which have the potential to damage Venquis’s brand or reputation, and consultants are encourage to raise any concerns that they have around repetitional risk with their manager.
Our philosophy is to deliver business transformation for our clients in a sustainable and equitable way. To successfully do this, we believe that we should treat the communities within which we operate in a way that acknowledges that they are stakeholders in our business too. Our Board considers the impact of any business decision on our community to ensure we are acting in line with our ethos.
Our Local Community
As specialists in transformation, we partner with organisations where our colleagues can give their time and skills to helping others change their lives. Our aim is that 90% of our colleagues take advantage of the free volunteer day we offer annually and managers actively encourage this take up. Such assistance includes sessions on CV writing and interview techniques and other such training; partnering with not for profit organisations to work with individuals that will benefit from our help.
Our Supply Chain
Our supply chains are limited and so ESG issues in our supply chain are not a material risk for us, however, we do view managing potential issues as important from an ethical perspective and so address this in the “Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement” in our Employee Handbook. We engage with suppliers whether direct or third party to ensure that good standards of welfare, conditions of employment and health and safety are extended to those who work in these services. An example would be our cleaning colleagues, who are employed by a service company and so we are engaging with them to establish whether our cleaning colleagues’ contractual rights and pay are fair, using JRF’s Minimum Income Standards Report 2017 and other leading research.
Our Global Community
We don’t wish to limit our impact to just our local community. We have a role in the broader global community too and so support our charity partner Shivia, a charity in India, which applies ideas of business transformation but to some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised women, who through poultry, agriculture or goats develop their own transformative businesses. The highlight of our leadership training is a trip to India where our team share best practice with the Shivia team and work on some of the projects; a transformative experience for all involved.
We have committed to giving 1% of our profits to charity. We do this through colleague led initiatives and are proud of the range of charities our team are involved with. We are also members of the Heart of the City charity which supports us, and 800 other businesses, to develop our volunteering, fundraising and charity relationships.
We live in a world where the natural environment is under constant pressure and we believe that every individual and organisation has a responsibility to play their part in minimising their own harmful impact on the environment. We acknowledge our responsibility and we commit to protecting the environment both through the support of environmental legislation and our own efforts. We have identified key areas through our ESG risk assessment where we believe we have a material environmental impact.
We promote environmental management policies and practices at every level of Venquis. At Board level, environmental impact is integral to every business decision and we would not pursue short term profits at the expense of the sustainability of our environment. We encourage organisations we partner with to adopt environmentally sensitive policies with respect to all aspects of their businesses. We engage with our landlord on reducing water and energy consumption and improving the environmental efficiency of the building.
We believe that our responsibility goes beyond the office environment and our Stewardship Programme educates and informs our colleagues on the positive impact they can have on environmental issues beyond the workplace. Through sharing short videos, news articles and other media, we encourage day to day debate and thinking around our impact on the environment.
We keep up to date with global environmental issues and our own initiatives are prioritised to reflect this. We actively encourage the reduction in use of single use plastics and have initiatives in place to support this. This includes all colleagues being given non-plastic water bottles and clients and candidates being given reusable and sustainable coffee cups. Our target is to reduce single use plastic by 75%.
Our Office Environment
Our purchasing policy gives preference, as far as practicable, to those products and services which are the most environmentally beneficial and to supplement this we maintain a green supplier list. We avoid wherever practical the use of environmentally damaging substances, materials and processes. We are committed to reducing the use of paper and we are working to embed the principles of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) throughout our business. We acknowledge that the nature of the job doesn’t allow us to be fully paperless, however, we actively encourage less printing and the paper we do use is FSC certified and recycled where possible. We educate and encourage all colleagues to recycle where possible and throughout our offices we provide appropriate recycling facilities. Our aim is to recycle 100% of products that can be recycled in the office environment and to reduce our paper use by 75%.
We think about the impact of our travel and will only travel by plane where necessary and make extensive use of video conferencing and other facilities to minimise our use of air travel. We support the use of public transport through our travel loans which are detailed in our Employee Handbook, and we encourage employees to walk and cycle to work through a number of initiatives.