‘We never use the phrase Corporate Social Responsibility, or the initials CSR at Ringtons.’ said Richard from the Newcastle based tea and beverages company. ‘It sounds too much like a crime. Instead we focus on our business doing good things in the community.’
I was at Muckle LLP for a breakfast event as part of the GeNErosity Festival 2018, a festival of philanthropy and giving. It was one of 30 similar events across the region during November. Richard’s comments set the tone for the session. I had never realised how many businesses were involved in supporting community initiatives in the North East.
The reason for my attendance was threefold. Firstly I was with a client who is interested in developing their own CSR approach, should they choose to use those initials. Secondly, having run CyberFest in September I was interested to see if there were any lessons I could learn for next year. Thirdly was a genuine interest in the relationship between businesses and their communities.
I have long believed that a business has three responsibilities: to its shareholders; to its employees; to its community. I know I haven’t mentioned customers though this is a given. There is no business without a customer. Richard, from Greggs his time, the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom, summed it up nicely. Happy staff – happy customers – happy investors. Indeed the company takes the approach that business sustainability comes through social responsibility. It is not a nice to have, it is an important part of their work.
I should add that I consider responsibility to the environment falls within community.
My client found it useful, as did I. He told me he had never written so much at a breakfast event. I learned a bit more about how to put on a series of events but what did I learn about philanthropy?
This, you should:
- ensure that senior people show that they are committed to the process
- support causes that people in your business care about
- shape what you do by doing what you do best
- match interests and skills, focusing on what talent you have
- communicate what we are trying to do
- ensure volunteering work is to the same standard as paid work
- involve your supply chain.
It was a great event and I got to say hello to a few new people.