A Q&A with GTS Solutions CIC – an Axis Partner
Can you tell us more about GTS Solutions, its ethics and social enterprise initiatives?
- We set up GTS Solutions in 2012 as a manned guarding company at first. We have evolved since then and are now what we consider to be a security integrator. We deliver cybersecurity and video surveillance solutions as well as safety and skills training. GTS prides itself on being the only social enterprise to operate in the UK’s private security industry. Our commercial strategies are informed by social and environmental well-being above all else. In Scotland we are the only security organisation to be a living wage employer, and throughout the UK, as far as we are aware, we are the only security company to offer living hours contracts. We reinvest all of our profits back into our social aims and objectives, which are primarily to deliver public safety, and on the back of this we consider ourselves as having strong ethical values.
What does it mean to you to be working closely with Axis, who have similar values and share your focus on ethical business conduct and social responsibility?
- At GTS we believe that people should be skilled to a position of requirement rather than just skilled in only the basics, which is very important in motivating people to do a great job and helping them feel valued. Axis’ beliefs align very much to our own, and we think that’s hugely important. We’re also exceptionally proud that we are the first social enterprise Axis has partnered with. Axis and GTS Solutions share a commitment to working with our people to help them improve their lives. We encourage the sharing of knowledge, helping staff grow and reach their full potential. To have a brighter future for all those who come after us, we need to start helping people now, and encourage them to help others; working for the betterment of society.
Do you see a change coming where more businesses will develop relationships based on the shared values they hold, and collaborate on projects related to these values?
- Absolutely. What’s exciting for us is that, from a government level down, there’s now a drive to encourage businesses to operate in a socially responsible way. In the public sector there’s been a push, influenced by Westminster’s social charter, to ensure that a percentage of business is driven through the social enterprise economy. This includes big projects that will improve society, such as the building of schools. To be able to work alongside Axis to deploy and manage security across some potentially large-scale projects is hugely important to us because they’re highly reputable and we’re positioning this partnership so that we can deliver effective solutions in a purposeful manner.
How does it feel to be a forerunner in a more conscious, ethical way of doing business?
- We aim to deliver services and products that have purpose within a contract. When businesses are told to spend some money in a good way, they’ll often buy some plants for the local train station, or make a one-off charitable donation, but then carry on their business as usual. We keep societal impact and how we can benefit others as a central focus of everything we do, so we’re constantly thinking about how our actions, our behaviours, our projects can have a positive effect on the world around us. It’s a time of great transformation which brings with it exciting opportunities.
Do you see a more socially aware mode of working being sustainable in the long term? What evidence have you seen of long term planning?
- We are based in Edinburgh, and I was very proud to have contributed to Scotland’s social enterprise strategy; a 10 year plan which is very much the first of its kind here, and follows the Westminster social charter. It feels like the powers that be are listening; that companies like GTS Solutions and Axis have chosen a path that it now being acknowledged as the right thing to do; ethical businesses doing business with ethical businesses and profit being a nice to have, but not when it comes at the expense of people or planet. Seeing a ten year strategy mapped out is just fantastic as it shows a long term commitment to future-looking ethical and sustainability goals.
When you are choosing a vendor what do you look for?
- We choose partners that we will be proud to work with and that we can confidently champion. We aim to encourage entire supply chains to join us in taking a more ethical, aware and responsible stance and look for partners who will do the same. With Axis, for example, there is a central focus to innovate for a smarter safer world. We believe that GTS Solutions can play a part in that. Having a shared goal with a partner is very important to us.
Bio Chris Thewlis
Chris is a recognised expert in the social enterprise sector in Scotland and along his commercial interests, advises the Scottish and UK Governments on Social Economic Development issues by being an evidence provider. He is the founder of GTS Solutions CIC, the UK’s only social enterprise to operate in the Private Security and Cyber Security industries and the only accredited living wage employer, delivering living hours contracts, to operate in Scotland within this industry in line with the living hours campaign run by the living wage foundation. Chris is a board member with Social Enterprise Scotland, Policy Board Member at Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Ambassador at Big Society Capital, and an Honorary Fellow of FRSA.