Delivering social value via a CSR programme shouldn’t be a tick box exercise, but an opportunity to work with likeminded businesses and people to really make a difference.
To do that effectively, we need to spread the word about our CSR initiatives and inspire others.
At every client meeting, CSR is on my agenda. I talk about what we’re doing as a firm and the impact this has had. This isn’t just about blowing our own trumpet, although we are rightly proud of what we do. It’s about encouraging others to share their experiences and enable us to spot new opportunities to work together, which could benefit local communities and good causes.
It’s through these conversations that we launched our Employability Skills Sessions. These are helping our clients’ tenants to improve their skills to help them get into work. Volunteers from our HR team and an assortment of volunteers from throughout Devonshires meet with the tenants to go through CV writing and interview skills. After the sessions, participants also get the chance to apply for a fixed term contract in our general office team.
Once this scheme was up and running we realised we had something with the potential to extend so we looked at how we could make an offering to improve the skills of young people via Action for Kids, a fantastic charity which helps disabled children and young people which we have supported for 7 years. We approached our IT provider Quiss to ask whether they would work with us to provide basic IT training in a similar format to our Employability Skills sessions. They jumped at the chance to work with us and kindly agreed to deliver two three-hour workshops at no charge. We hope that this will be the start of many more collaborations we can participate in.
By engaging and working with others in this way, we’ve been able to deliver tangible benefits. That’s why we shouldn’t be afraid to shout about CSR successes, share our experiences, and ask others to get involved. Those conversations may spark a great idea, open up new opportunities or simply inspire an individual employee, supplier or client to do more.
The impact of this could be much bigger than a one-off donation and importantly, enable us to create more meaningful CSR strategies that deliver maximum social value.
Donna McCarthy is a Partner responsible for CSR and Trustee of the Devonshires Charitable Foundation.