Businesses and charities were brought together by East Midlands Chamber for an event that aimed to get firms engaging with their communities.
More than 20 charities set up stalls at the East Midlands CSR Summit, held at the University of Derby’s Kedleston Road campus yesterday (6 July), where they connected with 100 business leaders.
At the event Richard Collins, founder of corporate social responsibility accreditation provider CSR-A, discussed how companies can gain a return on investment in community activities, and HS2 Ltd’s senior CSR manager Graham Frankland explained the importance of proving social and environmental impact for SMEs when bidding for the 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities from the high-speed rail project.
Chris Hobson, Director of Policy and Insight at East Midlands Chamber, also presented research in partnership with the University of Derby and Loughborough University showing that while six in 10 East Midlands businesses run community-based activities, there remain gaps in engagement due to reasons such as a lack of resource or it not being deemed a strategic priority.
He said: “Our goal at the Chamber is to get more businesses to do more community-based activities in a more impactful way. There remains an education piece around why this isn’t just a ‘nice to do’ but actually can be an essential part of a growth strategy. Members told us that one of the best ways to support this understanding is through creating opportunities for businesses to speak directly to organisations that are operating in their local area and learn about what they do, why they do it and what opportunities exist for two-way learning.
“There are some great drivers to CSR that will speak clearly to businesses, whether it’s as simple as having a passion for a particular cause, helping to engage and develop employees, grow brand reputation, or to be more competitive in tendering opportunities.
“By integrating community engagement within a wider business strategy, it becomes more sustainable and leads to a greater impact – not just for the charity, but the business too as it can take learnings into its own organisation.”