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Dr Ralf Speth's speech at Business in the Community's Gala Dinner 2014

This is the speech given by Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive, Jaguar Land Rover at the Responsible Business Awards Gala Dinner on 8 July 2014.

Your Royal Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. 

It's an honour to celebrate this evening with you.

Today, Jaguar Land Rover is a strong, healthy and vibrant business; however, 5 years ago times were very challenging for us. We struggled to pay the salaries and many people - even in Government - believed we might not survive.

Without Ratan Tata, who was then the Chairman of our parent company, the Tata Group, we might not be here today.  Ratan provided us the opportunity to restructure and to prepare simultaneously for profitable, sustainable growth.

Jaguar Land Rover seized the chance, more than tripled its turnover and doubled the workforce, creating 15,000 new jobs, contributing - according to Oxford economics -  to a better life for around 200,000 families in the UK across our supply chain.

Isn't that one of the most exciting elements of the success of JLR?

A year ago Marc Bolland, CEO of M&S, the 2012 winner of the Responsible Business of the Year, challenged us with his words: "do something special - expectations are high".

The award has driven us to do more. 

I would like to give some examples during the past year, if I may:

Firstly, we have continued our relentless efforts to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in both our products and operations:

  • The UK's largest roof-mounted solar array, at Jaguar Land Rover's Staffordshire Engine Manufacturing Centre Through the introduction of technology and dedication to reduce weight, like the body of our XJ model which weig hs less than a Mini, or the nine speed gear box we introduced - a world first 

  • Through "hybridisation" of the Range Rover diesel model - another world first, and

  • Through installing the UK’s largest roof mounted solar array.

Secondly, our newly launched global CSR programme aims to create opportunities for 12 million people around the world by 2020. 

In the UK we expanded our Inspiring Tomorrow's Engineers programme and reached out to 300,000 schoolchildren. You should see the enthusiasm and smiling faces of the kids. I just visited the finals of F1 in Schools with some 2000 kids in Birmingham.

And we have developed a new programme to tackle youth unemployment: in the last nine months, 100 unemployed young people aged 16-23 have been equipped with the skills to compete for jobs in our sector. Tom Price was the first recruit. He works now in his chosen area, in Trim and Final at our Solihull plant.

Tom Price, Jagar Land Rover recruitJaguar Land Rover has shared its journey with other BITC member companies. We arranged visits for them to our plants, hosted environmental innovation days at our test track and addressed 'sustainability in the supply chain' with their procurement directors.

As his Royal Highness will know, we are working with the Princes Countryside Fund. This three-year programme has already proven its worth connecting communities and helping to build businesses that would otherwise struggle to get off the ground.

We've also been inspired by initiatives led by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry - such as United for Wildlife and the Invictus Games - and our involvement with these new initiatives will help extend our legacy as BITC's Responsible Business of the Year.

Let me now turn to the men and women of the armed forces. Military servicemen and women are extremely well-trained. Their unique skills and behaviours will be an asset to any company, We hired 85 ex-military people last year.

So, we will support the reintegration of ex-service personnel to compete for new civilian careers as well as special projects for injured servicemen and women. I am very proud that Jaguar Land Rover is the supporting partner for the Invictus Games to be held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this September.

This is an important, but also exciting initiative championed by His Royal Highness Prince Harry. The Games will support and celebrate sporting achievements of wounded ex-service men and women from 13 countries.

HRH Prince Harry with wounded ex-servicemen, working on the Invictus Games

Every business here this evening can be part of the team. Watch the games and pledge your support through the Corporate Covenant.  

I hope you agree that Jaguar Land Rover has done something special this year. We are a British company committed to making a positive impact on society - and I hope you buy British despite my accent.

Like many successful businesses, we have been inspired by a visionary leader.

Your Royal Highness, you have been a champion across nations, industries and societies in so many areas: architecture, food, health, sustainability, young people and the countryside - your vision has inspired and encouraged us. At JLR we share your ideas and are committed to build on them. 

Therefore tonight, your Royal Highness, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you and to salute you for your dedication and your relentless encouragement. You kept course from the early days in the mid-70s, and your clear words have promoted positive social and environmental outcomes in the UK and overseas.

Your Royal Highness - thank you so much.