Business people from the Black Country took part in a panel discussion about responsible business at whg's Hatherton Street office, in Walsall, on Friday 28th April.

The event gave local students the opportunity to ask representatives from different businesses how their organisations endeavour to behave responsibly. This was followed by a networking session, where students were encouraged to share their ideas for improving the way businesses work, making workplaces better and helping communities thrive.

Over 50 students from Codsall High School, RSA Academy in Tipton, and Walsall College, attended joined by business panellists: Gary Fulford, Group Chief Executive, whg; Liz Bell, Community Affairs Officer, A.F.Blakemore; Stef Stewart, Regional Director, Buildbase; Maria Northwood, Business Support Director inc CSR, HR & Sustainability, Axis Europe; Martin Jones, Construction Manager, Wates Living Space West; Lorna Ellis, Market Sustainability Manager, Jaguar Land Rover.

Organised by Business in the Community (BITC), the event was one of a series of events run as part of Responsible Business Week, an annual awareness week run by Business in the Community to inspire and challenge more businesses to take action which creates positive change in society when businesses and organisations share ways they can work together for a fairer society and a more sustainable future.

The schools and businesses taking part are all part of BITC’s Black Country Business Class Cluster, a group of schools and businesses who work together all year round to ensure that young people attending local schools gain the workplace skills they need to build successful working lives.

Paul Dockerill, whg’s Director of Energy and Programme Management, chaired the event as part of whg’s commitment to Responsible Business Week.

He said: “We are delighted to have supported this year’s Responsible Business Week by hosting this popular event at our Hatherton Street office. It was not only the perfect platform for us to work closely with other leading companies, but it was also a great way to inspire students and show them first-class examples of responsible businesses. We were really impressed by the questions the students posed to the panel and it was enlightening to see their enthusiasm shine through at the event.

“As one of the Midlands’ leading and most successful provider of high-quality homes, we are committed to the delivery of a fairer society and more sustainable future for the community. We hope this event also inspires other businesses to consider their social and environmental impact.”

The questions covered issues such as recruitment, staff retention, skills shortages in the area, community projects, ethical business practice, and the impact of technology on the development of business.

Two students shared their thoughts on the event.

Aidan MacDivett from RSA Academy in Tipton said: “It was an outstanding opportunity to get to hear from the business people and I really enjoyed the event”.

Joshua Fellowes from Codsall High School said: “The event has really helped open up doors for me and really made me think about next steps”.