iMultiply and Mazars recently hosted an event to explore the benefits of corporate social responsibility and the impact this has on the Scottish market. The engaging event featured Tom Murray, a charity expert and Chair of Mercy Corps and Camila Das Gupta of Social Bite.
An insight into some of the discussion:
“There is no simple definition for CSR. It depends very much on what business sector you’re in and what geography you’re in. It varies enormously but the bottom line is that it’s all about the business approach. It’s about trying to run a business in a way that is compatible and sustainable and one that also provides economic, social and environmental benefits.”
“CSR really needs to be completely embedded in the business right the way through. The senior management has to be engaged and the Board has to be engaged and it should form part of the strategic planning. It’s not just something you do on Wednesday afternoons, you’ve really got to be properly involved with it.”
“Think a little bit more about your supply chain and the people with whom you are doing business and the people who are supplying you. You should think about their CSR as well.”
“A huge amount of charitable donations are given in the form of goods and services. Old computers and office furniture may be old to you but to a lot of charities it can be really very useful. One word of caution: I’ve seen too often in the field at Mercy Corps, goods which really aren’t wanted doing a huge amount of damage. So please make sure if you are giving goods to charity they do actually want them. You quite often see collections of clothing being aired to disaster zones and sometimes it’s needed but sometimes the net result is that you’re just destroying a struggling local textile economy, so do be careful about what you give.”
“It’s a good idea to allow your staff to serve on Boards of charities. Charities are frequently desperate for people with certain skill sets to serve on their Boards and to advise them. You should allow that. “
Why should you engage with CSR?
“It’s really good for your business, it’s really good for your people and for retention, particularly in younger people. It’s very good for procurement if you are trying to procure a public sector contract, you will often find that you are being asked about a lot of these activities.”
Camila Das Gupta:
“Social Bite is not just a business, we like to call ourselves a ‘business with a difference’ and one that has a social mission. Social Bite started out as a small chain of sandwich and coffee shops but the intention was to use this as a platform for social change.”
“We currently have three main ways in which the business functions as a charity and works to combat homelessness in Scotland. This is done through donating our profit, implementing a pay it forward scheme in our coffee shops and creating employment opportunities for homeless people.2
“At Social Bite, 100% of the profits are donated to specially chosen initiatives. This means that we make enough money to cover our overhead costs and then every penny of the profit from selling our goods and services gets donated to charities and projects that are dedicated to social change.”
“One quarter of our employed staff are people who have previously struggled with homelessness themselves. We offer job opportunities to people who are struggling with a variety of systemic issues and we help support them through employment. Having employment opportunities can be a stepping stone for homeless people to gain skills, to gain confidence and also to gain financial security. The main aim of Social bite is to ultimately employ and empower the homeless community in Scotland.”
“What makes Social Bite a success in this industry and its field is that both the co-founders (Josh and Alice) realised that you can’t just give someone who is part of the homelessness cycle a job and snap your fingers and expect them to be on their feet and ready to function in everyday society. Josh and Alice began to understand that these people were not going to become productive and safe members of society just with the simple fact of having a job. They realised they were missing pieces that were needed in order to create a sustainable environment for success. This is where the counselling sessions became part of Social Bite practice for the formerly homeless employees of the company.”
CSR isn’t just about fundraising, it’s also about what you can give back. The event explored the deeper meaning behind CSR with the aim of raising awareness of the benefits this can bring to charities and businesses.
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