Why we decided to apply for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise
Willmott Dixon is one of the UK’s largest family-owned construction and fit-out companies. Founded in 1852, sustainability is a core value – it’s something that defines everything we do. Our purpose beyond profit ethos is about leaving a positive, sustainable legacy for future generations. We want to be a catalyst for positive change. That’s why we always challenge ourselves with new ways of thinking to become cleaner, greener and more productive. Our achievements include being carbon neural since 2012, cutting carbon emissions by 59% since 2010, powering all our sites and offices with 100% renewable energy, and enhancing the life-chances of more than 10,000 young people since 2013.
That’s why gaining the gold standard that is a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development is so important. It shows that we are making a difference and that recognition makes us even more determined to set the standard for how the actions of companies in the built environment preserve and nurture the world we all live in.
What winning the award has meant for Willmott Dixon
There are very few people in our business who haven’t played a role of some sort in helping us become a sustainable business – whether they’re protecting wildlife on site, supporting a young person through an apprenticeship, helping the customer understand the benefits of more energy efficient buildings, buying from social enterprises – and much, much more. But some of our people have gone to extraordinary lengths to do the right thing. Working in sustainability, there’s always more to do – and it’s easy for us to move on to the next thing, without looking back on what they’ve achieved.
Winning a Queen’s Award gave us the ideal opportunity to recognise and celebrate our sustainability advocates, our supply chain partners, our customers, and other supporters. We did this by organising a lunchtime event, where some of our people talked about their sustainability initiatives, and where Lord Lieutenant, Sir Robert Voss, the Queen’s Representative in Hertfordshire, presented Rick Willmott, our Group CEO, with our beautiful trophy. It was a fantastic celebration and people shared the photos of the day with colleagues, and throughout their own networks.
How winning the award has benefited us
Our ambition is to be the UK’s most sustainable construction company. We’ve won a fair few awards over the years, but the Queen’s Awards are undoubtedly the most prestigious. This isn’t just because they have a royal endorsement – it’s also because the submission process is extremely rigorous. Our Queen’s award signals to industry, our customers, our supply chain and our people that our commitment to sustainability isn’t just 'greenwash' – we really do it! It makes a big difference when we are bidding for work with new customers.
Advice for future Queen’s Award applicants
My first piece of advice would be: start early! You’ll need to answer lots of questions, which require in-depth answers, and you’ll need to plan what to say in each section so you stay within the word count. If you’re like us, you’ll need to source information from a range of people in your business – so you’ll need to allow enough time to do this.
My second is: if at first you don’t succeed – don’t give up. We entered the Promoting Opportunity category in 2017 – and were disappointed when we didn’t get it. However, the feedback from the judges was really helpful. Over the next year we worked hard to address the points that they had raised and in 2018 we were successful.
My final piece of advice is: if you are awarded a Queen’s Award, celebrate! Recognise all the fantastic people that have helped you along the way – not just your staff, but your supply chain partners, your customers, and any other supporters. And make the most of it! You should be rightly proud that you’ve earned the right to use the logo – on your letterheads, email footers, websites – so make sure you do!
Chief Sustainability Officer, Willmott Dixon
Check out a short video from Willmott Dixon where they speak with some of their wider supporters about the Award: