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East Midlands Chamber News

Conference hears how shared focus will help deliver thriving communities



More and more companies are beginning to feel the benefits of closer community involvement.


Whether it’s for improved staff retention, attracting the next generation of workers or winning contracts, being able to demonstrate higher levels of corporate philanthropy can markedly change how a company is perceived.


That was the underlying message delivered to about 70 delegates at the Corporate Social Responsibility Summit, hosted by the Chamber yesterday.


Introducing the event, Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles said: “The focus in future will be about how businesses – particularly small and medium-sized organisations – and communities work together for shared goals.


“Nowadays, it is not enough for a business just to provide jobs. Whether you’re a customer, employee or partner, people want to know that the company they work with cares about people and the planet, not just about profit.


“As a Chamber, we are keen to create more opportunities for businesses to engage in CSR activities and to ensure the impact of this can be maximised both for the communities and the businesses themselves.


“Importantly we believe firmly in the link between successful businesses and thriving local communities.”


The event, which took place at University of Derby Chesterfield Campus from 8am to 10am, was the second annual Corporate Social Responsibility Summit hosted by the Chamber.


Delegates heard from companies that are already reaping the rewards of being involved in CSR activities, including Air IT, Flowerworld (WM Morrisons), Ricoh, Rolls-Royce and the University of Derby.


They also heard from companies that can advise on CSR activity, such as the Nottinghamshire Foundation and Ryley Wealth and from beneficiaries of CSR, including Emma Hallam, Founder and Director, Alex’s Wish and Maria Hanson, Founder and CEO, Me & Dee, Rolls-Royce


And Lizzy Hawkins, Senior Policy Adviser for Responsible Business, Government Inclusive Economy Unit, gave a presentation on the Government’s approach to responsible business and highlighted the work that is taking place centrally on this agenda.


Scott also talked about how the Chamber has widened its corporate vision to ‘enhancing East Midlands businesses and communities’ and is seeking to take a lead in helping firms engage in CSR activity.


It follows analysis of CSR-specific questions in the first Quarterly Economic Survey of 2019 which showed that 62% of members already engage in ‘CSR’, with 81% of those saying they do it because it is the ‘right thing to do’.


Sixty-eight per cent do it because they want to develop links with the community, 44% said it helps them build profile, 38% reported a personal connection to a cause and 31% viewed it as part of their staff development strategy.


Forty-one per cent of respondents said they intended to increase activity in this area in the year ahead. For those that don’t get involved in CSR, the main reason given was either not having enough resource or not having considered it.


Chris Hobson, the Chamber’s Director of Policy, who was instrumental in putting the conference together and is the Chamber’s lead on CSR, said: “It’s no longer enough for a company to just provide kit for a local football team each year to be considered a part of the community. Nowadays, they need to demonstrate a real interest in the community, the environment, the planet and their people if they want to attract the best of the Millennials and Generation Z workforce.


“The Chamber has added two little words – ‘and communities’ – to its corporate goal of enhancing East Midlands businesses, but those two little words carry huge significance and we are more than ready to meet that challenge.”