Responsible Business of the Year 2019: Boots

Winner of Business in the Community’s Responsible Business of the Year 2019

Boots: Investment in cancer support partnership at heart of focus on corporate social responsibility

  • 92,000 conversations with those living with cancer
  • 33% emissions reduction at stores
  • 10,000 young people supported

A belief that business can be a force for good has been a founding principle of Boots since it was established 170 years ago. Now part of the global organisation, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), the company is a pharmacy-led health and beauty chain with more than 2,500 stores.

‘Doing the right thing’, an ethos consolidated in its first corporate social responsibility (CSR) report more than 40 years ago, underpins the way the business operates and interacts with communities.

“For 170 years, corporate responsibility has flowed through our thoughts and actions. The more companies that combine commercial and CSR activities, the greater impact business can have as a global force for good.”

​Seb James, Managing Director, Boots

Boots’ partnership with Macmillan supports those living with cancer. In 2017/18, more than 92,000 conversations were had by Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists, giving trusted information. Since 2009, more than £16.6 million has been raised for Macmillan Cancer Support – enough money to pay for 100 Macmillan nurses for three years. It is a model that has been replicated by Walgreens in the US.

Much of the company’s community investment has happened in Nottingham, the birthplace of the business. Here, support for initiatives, such as Hoodwinked educational programme, the Literacy Hub leadership and the Boots Charitable Trust, is helping young people get ready for work. Across Nottinghamshire, more than 10,000 people have been directly impacted since 2016.

The company achieved its 2020 30% CO2 reduction target three years ahead of schedule, cutting emissions by 33% in Boots stores that were open in 2005. The company is a signatory to the UK Plastics Pact, committed to tackling the plastic waste challenge.

The company says that CSR is embedded across its business, influencing all decisions. “We don’t play lip service to CSR, we live and breathe it,” says Seb James, Managing Director of Boots. “It is afforded the same rigour as our commercial activities, driving our decisions and helping us attract and retain great talent.”

What the judges said …

“This was a truly impressive entry demonstrating what can be achieved when a company makes a long term commitment to tackle key social issues. A long term champion of local communities, Boots have really leveraged their scale and reach and as a result, made a significant impact on issues such as Cancer Care and Dementia in the UK.

Their understanding of how to make and sustain valued and effective partnerships has undoubtedly played a significant role in building the capacity of primary healthcare in the UK. In addition, as an integral part of the business commitment to address an issue, they have ensured it has been translated into something meaningful for employees and customers, through the training they have given to all front line staff.

They are a worthy winner to lead the responsible business movement.”

Baroness Sally Greengross, OBE, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group

The information in this impact story has been supplied by Boots.