By Aileen Evans, Group Chief Executive
It’s been two months since we launched our corporate plan, Further Together, which set out our aspirations and goals for the next three years.
Grand Union’s previous corporate plan was created in 2015 and, since then, so much has changed – both at Grand Union and in the wider world.
We’re constantly evolving. We became a single organisation in 2018 following our unification and moved to an incredible new office in Milton Keynes just under a year ago. So, when we produced Further Together, we were keen to shake things up. When devising our four commitments outlined in the plan, the key aim was to think differently, and I want to go into a bit more detail about how we did that.
Back in October last year, while we were settling into our fantastic new office, we held a planning day – our corporate planning summit. We invited not only our colleagues, but Board members and customers to look at some of the key themes that we thought should be included in our new corporate plan.
We watched engaging presentations from three different speakers. First up was Rob Stephenson, a mental health advocate who lives with a bi-polar condition, who spoke about wellbeing in the workplace. I, like so many of my colleagues at Grand Union, am passionate about creating an open culture about mental health. As an organisation, we’ve worked in partnership with MIND charity, so many of us were moved by what Rob had to say, indeed it was Rob who inspired me to talk about my own mental wellbeing.
Mark Stevenson, author, broadcaster and expert on global trends and innovation, then spoke about climate change, in a presentation entitled ‘the future and what to do about it’. He scared us and amazed us in equal measure; we came away inspired to do things differently.
Finally, Rob McCargow, Director of Artificial Intelligence at PWC discussed artificial intelligence (AI) and in particular how to make sure that when we use AI, we use it responsibly and properly. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen what happens when AI isn’t used well, with the problems with A-level grades that took up so much space in the news. Both presentations challenged us to think about the changing nature of the workplace in the future, and we ensured we incorporated this in our corporate plan, especially when considering our impact on the environment.
The aim behind the planning summit was to get our brains stimulated and thinking in new ways. Our focus was to come up with innovative ideas; listening to those from outside the organisation was essential in getting our creative juices flowing.
A few weeks later, we held roundtable sessions where colleagues from every level of the organisation put forward ideas and themes for the new plan. Everyone had a chance to have a say and I was delighted with the thoughts and ideas that emerged!
After gathering feedback, our corporate plan was beginning to take shape.
Timing meant that we also considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic; which is in itself, unpredictable, so we were delighted that we adapted to a different way of working so well. We’re a financially secure organisation so while the pandemic had an impact, we are still very confident that we’ll be able to deliver everything we set to achieve in Further together. We received £239m funding in May, which added to our strong financial position and ensured our ambitious plans were relatively unaffected by the pandemic.
I’m confident that, with four clear commitments outlined in our corporate plan, we’ll help to create better lives for our customers, colleagues and communities. I’m a firm believer that everyone should have a safe and secure place to call home and one key aspect of Further Together will see us do our part to tackle the homelessness crisis, by committing to build more than 1,900 more much needed homes. We also aim to reduce the unjust stigma that is sometimes applied to those who live in social housing.
Importantly, it’s essential to bear the environment in mind when committing to such plans. I’m proud that, as an organisation, we’re aiming to become carbon-neutral.
So, to find out more about Further Together, and to read our four commitments, go to https://guhg-furthertogether.co.uk/
We can’t wait to continue our journey and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved so far.