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Appetite for CSR is growing, summit confirms

Posted on 20 February 2018

The appetite for firms to be more involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects is growing, a summit this morning confirmed.

About 100 delegates attended the East Midlands Chamber* event, at which keynote speakers told how their organisations were benefiting from closer community involvement.

Michael Halloran, Director of External Affairs at Capital One, Nottingham, told the delegates how CSR was now embedded in the organisation and how its success was measured “beyond the bottom line”.

And Morag Punton, Senior CSR Manager at Boots UK, talked about developing sustainable partnerships, including the work the company does with the Macmillan cancer charity.

Panel discussions covered different approaches to developing CSR work and partnerships between the private and charity sectors.

Chris Hobson“The key message to come out of the summit was that there is a real appetite to do more around CSR,” said Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at East Midlands Chamber, which staged the event with the support of Strategic Partner Ryley Wealth Management, of Nottingham.

Chris used the summit, held at Trent Bridge, to launch a report compiled by the Chamber, following original research, which revealed that six-out-of-ten businesses in the East Midlands have engaged in CSR activity in the past year, with 40% of them looking to increase their involvement in the coming year.

The survey involved 276 businesses and found that, of those that undertook some form of CSR, the overwhelming drive behind it was a desire to ‘give something back’ to the local community, with 79% citing that as a primary reason.

Four-out-of-ten respondents said they had a personal connection to the cause they were supporting.

Others saw CSR as a key tool in helping to support continued business development and staff engagement. Forty-five per cent said that CSR helped them to build a stronger corporate profile and 38% said it helped with staff development.

Commenting on the findings, Chris said: “At a time when traditional sources of funding and support continue to dry up for the charity sector, these findings have underlined the central role the private sector can play in supporting local communities.

“It’s really interesting to better understand the different drivers behind why businesses engage in CSR. While the majority view it as being ‘the right thing to do’, a significant number also see it as being a key part of their own business strategies.

“At a time when over 40% of UK adults already volunteer in some way, enabling staff to have the opportunity to engage in good causes will seem like a no-brainer for most businesses.”

The survey also explored the reasons why businesses don’t engage in CSR activity, with 60% of those not currently engaging saying they don’t have enough time or are too busy and 13% saying they’re unsure how to.

Chris added: “There’s definitely more work to be done to demonstrate the positive impact CSR can have on both businesses and charities alike, alongside the most effective ways of making the biggest impact. That is what today’s conference was all about – bringing together charities and the private sector to understand what works well, where there are opportunities to do more and what role the Chamber and others can play to help make this happen.”

David Ryley, Ryley Wealth Management founder and Chief Executive said: “We were delighted to partner with the Chamber on this activity. CSR is something that I hold dear to my heart and it’s great to be able to bring together businesses and charities to share their experiences of what works best.

“The ultimate aim is to improve the amount and quality of engagement taking place across the East Midlands and Ryley Wealth is pleased to be able to do its bit to help in that.”

Corporate Social Respopnsibilty Strategies in the East Midlands: Current Approaches and Future Prospects

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