The Board takes responsibility for considering stakeholder needs and interests in its decision-making.
The Board shapes the framework within which stakeholder relationships are developed and maintained, and the purpose of stakeholder engagement in relation to decision making and strategy. The Board itself has a robust programme of stakeholder engagement, aimed at identifying and understanding the interests of the Group’s customers, workforce, supply chain and strategic partners, communities, governments and investors so that the interests of these key stakeholders can be taken into consideration when decisions need to be taken. The Board however cannot, on its own, ensure meaningful reflection of all stakeholder views across the Group. In addition to the Board’s programme of stakeholder engagement, there is also a network of mature executive and business-led stakeholder relationships across the Group which complements actions taken by the Board. Where appropriate, feedback is reported to the Board to support the timely recognition of emerging stakeholder issues. There are many different ways in which the Group engages with its key stakeholders, as set out on pages 129 to 131. Specific Board engagement with the Group’s workforce and shareholders is set out below.
The Board believes that the Group’s workforce is central to the business and its long-term success. The Board prioritises engagement with the breadth of the employee population through its Stakeholder Voice initiative. Stakeholder Voice is supported by reports on key performance indicators, including an ‘engagement index’ figure (as measured by employee surveys), voluntary attrition rates, safety observations and participation rates for the My Contribution, Balfour Beatty’s employee-led change programme, where employees are encouraged to propose and develop innovative ideas to drive improvements in the Group’s operations. In addition to the Stakeholder Voice initiative, non-executive Directors are kept abreast of engagement opportunities throughout the year, for example through training workshops, talent activities, site visits, town halls, contract award meetings and more. Care is taken to ensure each non-executive Director has a broad exposure across the workforce and areas of the business. Non-executive Directors are encouraged to carry out site visits and are provided with a form to be completed, which helps provide a template for discussions and engagement activities. Topics that Directors are asked to report back on include:
- health, safety, environment and sustainability;
- engagement and morale;
- resources and tools for the job;
- understanding of Group strategy, values and behaviours;
- diversity and inclusion;
- future, change and innovation; and
- director remuneration.
All site visits undertaken by Directors are reported back to the full Board at each meeting, allowing for further discussion and the identification of any gaps in the engagement programme. Due to COVID-19, fewer site visits were undertaken in the year. However, Board members carried out site visits when lockdown rules permitted them to do so. During lockdown, a significant number of employees were required to work from home. The Board was updated on engagement activities that were undertaken during this time.
Investors play a valuable role in the corporate governance of the Company. The Board is committed to maintaining an open dialogue with its investors, which is achieved through a programme of structured engagement. A selection of investor events that took place in the year can be found within the investor calendar on the facing page. A similar programme is anticipated to be followed in 2022.
One-to-one meetings between the Group Chair, Group Chief Executive, Chief Financial Officer and individual institutional investors continued throughout 2021. The executive Directors conducted analyst presentations following financial results announcements.
Each Committee Chair seeks regular engagement with investors on matters related to their area of responsibility and reports back to the full Board in order to keep them cognisant of all shareholder views. The Senior Independent Director is also available to shareholders. In addition, management engages with proxy advisory firms to support them in their reporting to their members.
The Head of Investor Relations reports to the Board biannually and provides summaries of analyst research briefings and share price movements on an ad hoc basis.
Full year and half year results presentation materials, including transcripts, are made available on the Company’s website so that retail investors receive the same information as institutional investors. Retail investors are also encouraged to raise any questions they may have concerning the Company through the Company Secretary who will arrange for an appropriate response to be provided.
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The AGM would normally provide an opportunity for investors to engage in person with the Board. As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, investor attendance at the 2021 AGM was discouraged. A dedicated email address was set up and used by shareholders, giving them the opportunity to exercise their right to ask questions and engage with the Company and the Board on matters relating to the AGM.