Corporate Eye

How to do CSR in just 10 days

Recently British Gas (BG) were round at my house.  We had a problem with the boiler and .. well, after three visits they still didn’t fix it.

In the course of all this we had a new carbon monoxide alarm fitted, which BG helpfully charged £29.95 for.  Somehow we forgot to pay this so a few weeks later a letter from Moon Beever arrived.

This isn’t a strange version of an Andy Williams song but a long established firm of solicitors in Central London which specialises in litigation and debt recovery.

On the left hand column of their website there is a permanent section entitled “Community Services” under which is the logo for Macmillan Cancer Support.  “Oooh,” I thought. “Interesting!”  So I clicked on it .. and it took me to the Macmillan Cancer Support website.  Not so interesting.

There’s nothing exciting about Moon Beever’s association with Macmillan and I suspect it’s more about donating to a friend’s legacy (Debbie’s Fund) rather than corporate responsibility.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure the firm are acting will all best intentions and they should be applauded for the terrific fund-raising they’ve done.

However there must be many SME businesses out there who want to “do something” in CSR but think it’s horribly complicated or painful. I’ve come across a very simple way you can fulfil your CSR ambitions in only 10 days.  And here it is….

My 10 Days

Anita Brightley-Hodges has over 20 years’ experience in marketing and branding and is the “creative genius” behind the firm she founded, Brightley-Hodges Associates (BHA).

She also believes in family businesses as evinced by her foundation of Family Business Place, a consultancy specifically to support family businesses.  It’s no surprise therefore that her daughter, Amelia, works at BHA as well!

One day, I like to imagine, Anita was sitting by a window in her office with the sun streaming through whilst sipping the beverage of her choice.  If only there was an easy way, she thought, that businesses could give to good causes without all the rigmarole of organising fundraising events or CSR programmes.

In fact, how about it if the business itself stood to one side and allowed its employees to drive this part of the enterprise? What about giving them time off work to do their thing?

It’s not a new idea, but once Anita had it (and I emphasise this is just my own little fugue going on here, not reality!) she rolled up her sleeves and created My 10 Days.

In essence, My 10 Days is about an SME giving one employee 10 days’ paid leave to do voluntary work or fundraising.  The employee gets to do something which is dear to their heart and the business gets to kickstart its CSR programme.

But My 10 Days isn’t just the idea.  Its all that lovely information about how to get the ball rolling with “how to” and toolkits for employees and bosses alike.

Inspired I did a few back of the envelope calculations.  Giving a person 2 weeks off will “cost” a business in terms of wages around £1,500.  This is absolute peanuts when you consider some of the stories on My 10 Days: raising £8,000 for Haiti earthquake victims; hands on support for leprosy victims in India; cycling through monsoon rains in Viet Nam …

My 10 Days is by no means the only way an SME can engage with CSR.  Moon Beever has raised over £10,000 in the past year for Debbie’s Fund, which in turn has funded cancer research at University College London.  No amount of time off could have made that possible, and £10,000 is probably significantly more than 1/26th of the firm’s average wage.

However if your business wants to take its first steps towards becoming a more responsible corporation or allow its employees to do their bit, My 10 Days is perhaps one of the simplest and easiest routes to do it.

And yes Anita and Amelia Brightley-Hodges have done it as well, raising over £6,000 for Great Ormond Street by trekking along the Great Wall of China.  You can read all about their experiences here.

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A former CTO, Chris has a broad and varied background. He’s been involved with blue chips, consultancies & SMEs across a wide variety of sectors and has worked in Europe, the Middle East and Australia. In 2007 he decided to combine his knowledge of business and IT with his passion for all things sustainable and has been busy writing ever since. However, his greatest ambition remains to brew the perfect cup of coffee.
 
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