There are business benefits to going above and beyond to support local organisations and services. But successful corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not based on the bottom line.
Why invest in your community?
Your business thrives on the success of the communities it serves.
Using your unique influence and expertise as an organisation, you can help to:
• drive positive change and growth for the community
• raise your brand awareness and
• expand your potential hiring base.
Engaging in your local community in an active way also helps to improve your understanding of the issues and needs facing the people you serve.
And it can open the doors to potential new markets.
As well as increasing customer loyalty, community engagement can also help you to improve employee retention.
A study carried out by Rutgers University and Net Impact found that employees who were able to give back to their community were twice as satisfied and happier with their jobs.
The key, according to the Harvard Business Review, is not to squeeze CSR so it aligns with business goals like turnover and profit. It’s to ‘align a company’s social and environmental activities with its business purpose and values’.
Use your unique insights
What unique knowledge or expertise could your business offer to your local community?
Whether you’re a construction company that could offer DIY workshops or a restaurant that could hold fundraising dinners for local causes, every business has something unique to offer to local consumers.
Helping local community centers and charities can strengthen your relationship with your customers, and make your brand values more visible.
British Gas’s Generation Green scheme offers free learning resources on energy saving and green fuels to teachers. There are currently 20,000 teachers registered in the scheme.
We’ve also worked closely with thousands of small business owners to help them look at ways to reduce their business electricity use
Understand the communities you serve
A Business in the Community (BITC) survey found that 75% of companies involved in programs that supported disadvantaged local people noticed an increase in employee motivation.
In communities where unemployment poses a risk, British Gas has been providing apprenticeship opportunities. In 2014 we spent £21.3m on engineering apprenticeships alone.
We’re also proud to be part of the Movement to Work scheme, aimed at helping young people who are currently not in education, employment or training to find work experience placements. The scheme provides our HR team with greater access to talent and increased employee diversity.
You could also consider adding optional volunteering time to your employees’ schedule. Or follow Richard Branson and add it to your own.
British Gas employees are given 16 hours of volunteer time every year, helping them to give back to the communities they work in, and to develop a better understanding of their needs.
Address the issues that face your communities
Understanding the ways your business can support a community and tackle some of its most pressing issues can help to build a positive relationship with customers.
For example, we recognize that fuel poverty is a key issue among the communities we serve. Over the last 10 years British Gas has invested £75million in the British Gas Energy Trust, helping over 100,000 people to get in control of their debts.
We’ve also worked alongside National Energy Action to develop eight Community Action Partnerships with local authorities and community groups, in an effort to tackle fuel poverty and develop bespoke action plans.
Activities like these have helped us gain CommunityMark accreditation once again.
The CommunityMark is awarded to companies based on an independent evaluation of how they benefit local communities.
It also recognizes leadership and excellence in community investment.
You can find out more about CommunityMark and the potential benefits of CSR on the BITC website.