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Marshalls' Chris Harrop made OBE in New Year's honours

1 January 2019
Chris Harrop OBE

Chris Harrop, Marshalls' Group Marketing & Sustainability Director, who was made an OBE in the New Year's Honours.

Chris Harrop, the Group Marketing & Sustainability Director of hard landscaping specialist company Marshalls, has been made an OBE* in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the prevention of modern slavery and exploitation.

Marshalls has done more than most companies to tackle modern slavery in its supply chain, especially with its stone from India, China and Vietnam. In India bonded labour continues even though it is illegal and forced labour of various kinds persists in the Far East.

Marshalls has been tackling the issue of modern slavery and improving the working conditions of people working in quarries and stone processing factories in the Far East since well before the UK's Modern Slavery Act of 2015.

Chris Harrop has been championing Marshalls' fight against modern slavery since 2005, when he spearheaded the Group's efforts to eliminate child labour and bonded labour from its global supply chain and improve working conditions.

He continues to visit the company's quarries around the world to meet Marshalls’ on-the-ground social auditors who are responsible for the daily monitoring of standards.

Under Chris Harrop’s guidance, Marshalls has worked with BRE Global, the Building Research Establishment’s certification arm, to help develop two new industry accreditations: BES 6001, Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products, and BES 6002, Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard.

He has also pioneered a ‘Find and Fix’ programme across the Marshalls PLC business that educates its employees, customers and suppliers, both in the UK and overseas, about how to watch out for and report possible cases of modern slavery.

He says: “Despite this being a huge personal privilege for me, it is sad that slavery remains a scourge on humanity almost 20 years into the 21st century. Even in the UK there are an estimated 136,000 people trapped in slavery today. One is too many, wherever they are.”

Chris joined Marshalls in 2002 and has overseen several other major corporate social and environmental responsibility initiatives, helping the business to qualify for the FTSE4Good Index for the first time in 2006. It remains on the Index today.

Marshalls has achieved numerous accreditations during Chris's tenure, including Business in the Community’s ‘Big Tick’ award, PLC of the year for Sustainability three times, thousands of Carbon Trust-labelled products and the Fair Tax Mark and Living Wage Employer certificates.

Chris holds several non-executive roles at global and UK organisations focused on corporate ethics and sustainability and since 2011 has been a Director at the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe and counts the Co-Op, H&M and the Body Shop among its membership. He chairs Made in Britain, an organisation committed to supporting British manufacturers making the most of opportunities domestically and overseas, and a former chair of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. In 2016 he travelled to the North Pole and filmed his journey to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the polar regions.

He says: “Sustainability and ethics are not just ideals to me but essential foundations of market leadership and values that we have instilled in the Marshalls brand and business.

"The business was established in the 1880s and today it leads by example as one of the most progressive and responsible corporates in the UK. It takes an immense effort to do this on the part of each one of our people, every single day, who all live and breathe our principles. This award is recognition for everyone at Marshalls and their tireless work over the past 17 years as much as it is for me.”

*The full title of the honour known as the OBE is 'Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'.

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