Press Release: HS2 to join speaker line-up at major business conference in Warwickshire

Terry Stafford, HS2 Community & Stakeholder Manager for the major high speed rail development project linking the Midlands and the North to London, will be part of a high profile line-up of business leaders presenting at the UK CSR and Sustainability Showcase at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire on 11th February 2014.

His presentation will describe the context of HS2, scale, duration, impact and stages of the project and the role played by community engagement together with expected outcomes.

The inaugural one-day event, which is being organised by Camden 360 Communications and Longden Ltd, is aimed at sharing the best practice and business benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for both small to medium sized businesses and corporates.

The event will feature a wide array of speakers who will share best practices and experiences of growing their business, enhancing their reputation and attracting and retaining new employees while adopting a socially responsible business philosophy.

“This idea of doing well by doing good is not new” explained Annette Gann, co-organiser and Director of Camden 360 Communications. “It is however gathering momentum and we are seeing corporate social responsibility move from being an approach only found within larger corporate organisations to something more mainstream that small to medium sized businesses recognise as an opportunity to differentiate as they leverage the current slow current slow creep of economic improvement.  The event will enable attendees to understand more about developing a CSR strategy while positively influencing their bottom line.”

Speakers include national business leaders from HS2, Greggs plc, Tata Technologies, The Co-operative Group, Carillion, Pub Stuff Ltd and The New Optimists.

Exhibitors will be present from the energy sector, charity, the environment, social housing and business growth and development.

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Tree huggers alive and well in Warwickshire!

Carole Longden is delighted to announce that some of the most cherished supporters of The Heart of England Forest are to attend The UK CSR Showcase on 11th February at Ragley Hall.

“We are really pleased that some of the Heart of England Forest’s most supportive tree hugging friends will be joining us at the Showcase – to share the business and well-being of tree planting in Warwickshire. Also, if you book before 17th January you can take advantage of our “two for one” special offer.”

CSR and tree planting in The Heart of England Forest 1

You can join five innovative organisations which have supported woodland creation in The Heart of England Forest and discover more about this beautiful forest;

  • The Phoenix Group
  • Tata Technologies
  • McFarlane Telfer
  • dmg:events
  • The Forestry Commission

“We will plant 5 trees for every delegate that attends the CSR Showcase, so you can do good, give back and take away lots of new ideas and contacts” adds Carole from www.longden.co.uk

There’s a great chance to collaborate with other companies who are on their CSR journey. For more information visit https://csrshowcase.com/collaborate/

Yes but how does CSR help my bottom line?

Unlike the SME market, in corporates and large enterprises, CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility – as an active function is increasingly commonplace. Often a CSR or CR Manager has overarching responsibility or in some cases a virtual team made up of Learning and Development, Internal/Corporate Communications, HR, Health, Safety and the Environment, Procurement and Operations teams each of whom share the workload.

They find CSR increasingly integral to business, and put simply is considered the right thing to do, but also brings many business benefits. CSR includes many things, and can be used to attract, develop and retain employees.   Giving back and charity fundraising is one way employees can get fully involved, and work closely with the communities in which they are based. The idea of working for an organisation where volunteering activity is  permitted during work hours, is considered a useful way for staff to develop new skills and experiences, whilst offering their time and expertise to the cause.

Business benefits for companies who actively engage in CSR activities include enhanced business/product reputation, engaged existing and future employees, business compliance, improved operational effectiveness and financial gain. In this way companies do not only focus on the bottom line profit instead they take a holistic view of people, planet and profit working together.

Phoenix Group is one such company who actively promotes their CSR agenda with the aim of building a long-term sustainable business. They have been included in ‘Britain’s Top Employers’ listing for a second year, and use CSR activity to help create an engaged workforce. Their programme focuses on four key areas: environment, workplace, community and external stakeholders (suppliers, customers). They believe that operating responsibly creates value for their business through building the trust and confidence of all stakeholders.

As well as reaching out to schools in the communities in which they operate, (Wythall, London and Glasgow) they recognise that a fundamental part of their business is paper generation based. So they have recently commenced a partnership programme by creating ‘The Phoenix Way’ – their own plantation of 1,000 trees in the Heart of England Forest. Environmentally, the merits of this are clear. From a stakeholder engagement perspective – employees, customers and suppliers can visit the area, even volunteering alongside the Head Forester Stephen Coffey to nurture the saplings through every stage. They also have plans to involve local primary school children in nature education sessions next year.

Lucy Symonds,  CR Manager at Phoenix Group said, “By planting trees in The Heart of England Forest we feel it important that we are doing something tangible in our local community, which will be around for future generations to benefit from.  We have sponsored an area of woodland which will be open to the public, and forms part of our ongoing CSR commitment. It’s great to know that we are helping to create England’s largest native broadleaf forest and that this in the future will be a thriving wildlife woodland in the Warwickshire countryside. The Phoenix Way wood is planted  primarily with oak.”

Organisations of all sizes as well as private individuals – regularly sponsor tree planting. From an environmental perspective the cost of entry is low to build this in as part of an active CSR plan. Carole Longden from Longden Ltd who brought the charity together with Phoenix Group is enthusiastic about the business benefits of tree planting, “The Heart of England Forest provides a perfect biodiverse playground for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to enhancing the local environment, employee engagement, supporting school visits, and generally improving peoples’ wellbeing and fitness. It also provides a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

In such a charitable nation as the UK, the role of corporate philanthropy is vital as substantial sums make a vast difference to those charitable organisations struggling to access much sought after funding in order to survive.

Certainly within the SME market, there are also many other organisations doing outstanding work for charity whether that is through donation or volunteering. For example First Impressions Ltd, the personal appearance and behaviour consultants, use their skills to help coach long-term unemployed people in how best to position themselves to successfully find work. They also provide advice and coaching for recovering chemotherapy patients needing confidence and new styling skills to cope with changes in their appearance. In the course of their normal client delivery, they are gaining positive feedback and repeat business based on how employees experiencing personal brand, behaviour and communications training feel valued, invested in and more likely to stay in the business.

Another example are leadership coaches AngelaArmstrong.com – who actively work with The Right Stuff Amateur Boxing club a successful and unique project to engage young people and tackle youth crime and anti-social behaviour. More than 500 young people actively participate in this group and there are aspirations to cultivate future Olympians from this and future cohorts.

But there is a widespread assumption in the SME sector that corporate social responsibility is ONLY about charitable giving or volunteering.

SME’s like Coventry based diamond drillers D-Drill and De Marco Solicitors – are proud advocates of apprenticeships for example. D-Drill MD Julie White has even put herself through their apprentice scheme to lead by example. With a million unemployed young people – this kind of support makes a tangible impact on up skilling individuals into areas where specialist skills are needed.

Customers and suppliers will often expect to see a commitment to CSR as part of the tendering process. Ethics, trust, environmental credentials, employee development and well-being and crucially, leading by example, are vital attributes of business reputation. Actions do of course speak louder than words.

Pub Stuff Limited, an SME who supply nearly new/second-hand and new contract furniture to Hotels, Pubs, Bars, Cafes and Hospitality areas have built their business around the current demand for ‘upcycled’ furniture and also their range of sustainable new custom built contract furniture which they commission from soft rubberwood derived from latex producing trees. Latex is of course used to produce all rubber-based products that can be found around the globe.

Once the latex has been drained from the tree, after a usage of around 26 – 30 years, the tree is considered to be waste and is felled with a new tree planted in its place. This therefore presents an opportunity to create new durable furniture using wood that will not deplete vital resources and whose sole existence is not only to produce furniture.

Ian Huband, Pub Stuff Ltd MD, will be talking on their approach to sustainable products and having an ethical supply chain at the upcoming CSRShowcase.com event at Ragley Hall on 11th February 2014.

So as the economy shows the first glints of recovery, SME’s wishing to be as well placed and focused as corporates in putting their best feet forward would do well to consider how the outlay need not be great, when implementing a CSR philosophy and action plan. Simple actions could yield significant dividends when attracting and retaining the best employees, or demonstrating environmental, community and ethical credentials to attract like-minded clients or investment.

Annette Gann

Trust is King

Sitting in one of the education streams at the #PRShow13, I must say I was delighted to hear Sky talk about one of my favourite philosophies.

 

When it comes to CSR, it’s not what you say it’s what you do that matters. “It’s frankly an old fashioned view,” muttered Graham McWilliam, Sky Group Corporate Affairs Director, “to think that your products or services alone speak for themselves. Businesses now have to do a lot more than that to win trust”. Very wise words and Sky have followed through admirably in this vein with their Sky Academy.

 

Trust certainly is a hot topic for stakeholders nowadays when we live in an increasingly transparent society. Enquiries into phone hacking, ‘Plebgate’ and non-payment of taxes are just a few cases in point. These are instances where a reputation can turn to dust overnight, particularly if there are no evident ‘CSR credits’ in the bank!

 

Your approach to engaging with your internal and external stakeholders will be a critical part of this. If your business practices an open, honest two-way communications philosophy then the channels will already be wide open and well lubricated for when a slightly less cynical ear can be counted upon during times of crisis.

 

This is not to say all misdemeanours will be forgiven  regardless of ‘the crime’. Instead stakeholders will more readily believe you if an honest mistake has been made and openly declared.

 

Barclays recognised this after the heavy fines of 2012 rocked the bank. To an already unsympathetic audience, this was just another example of how the financial services industry appeared to have failed its stakeholders.

 

Yet for many years Barclays have actively supported UNICEF to the tune of at least £5 million per annum. To help shore up the economies of developing countries, they channelled funds to budding entrepreneurs who have now established small active businesses. Their goal was to help build healthy economies and they needed to engage in order to achieve this.

 

They hadn’t shouted about it – but should they have done? Would the time interval needed to recover the damage to their reputation through being fined have been smaller? It is an interesting concept –  and harks back to another favourite of mine- doing well by doing good.

 

Talking to stakeholders in their own language, openly, honestly, actively listening and sharing knowledge constructively are also all worthwhile deposits in the bank of trust, goodwill and ethics.

 

Terry Stafford, Community and Stakeholder Manager at HS2 will be talking about their particular goals for building engagement with stakeholders at the UK CSR & Sustainability, Ragley Hall, 11th February 2014 – see csrshowcase.com for details.

UK CSR and Sustainability Showcase News

UK CSR & Sustainability Showcase –Breaking News from Annette Gann of Camden 360 Communications

As I write, I am more than a little delighted to announce that Carillion, the global services provider who have been heavily involved over the past few years in the construction of the acclaimed new modern Birmingham Library development, will be speaking during the conference. To secure your place on the early bird rate – simply visit http://www.csrshowcase.com.

Carillion-logo_thumb

Doing Well By Doing Good

Recently I was very fortunate to spend the day in the company of some truly inspiring business people who had seamlessly woven a CSR culture throughout the very fabric of their business.

After several years of corporate life, Jane Walker from the Philippine Children’s Foundation, a charity established twenty years ago, spoke about the powerful impact of meeting someone who is worse off than you.

On an early visit to the Philippines, she witnessed thousands of children in Manila spending their days hooking out rubbish from the dump and filling up sacks in the hope of gaining some kind of return on their dump treasures. She conceived a bold goal to educate every child on the dump site and end child poverty there. By continually asking the right people, eventually she found an engineering company willing to help her build a school on the dump from disused container lorries.

Laura Tenison, Founder of Jojo Maman Bebe the distinctive children’s clothing company talked about the strong environmental and ethical culture running across the business. “We encourage philanthropy and actively manage our customers so that they don’t buy unnecessarily”. How often do you hear a business take that approach in business. Yet Laura simply believes that good values = good business which is probably why she has managed to sustain a strong and successful business over a 20 year period.

Her teams are targeted on reducing the environment impact of the business because she proudly advocates an independent ethos to put people and planet above profit. She does this through a happy workforce with an engaging and positive ethos that customers find  attractive – she believes very strongly in doing well by doing good.

On 11th February at the UK CSR & Sustainability Showcase, Roisin Currie, Group People Director from Greggs, the well-known bakery chain, will talk to delegates about how they have crafted a strong and engaged workforce and the part that their approach to philanthropy has played in this. They have raised almost a million pounds for Children in Need alone and regularly run breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas and provide hardship grants to those that need it.

At a time when poverty is a hot topic everywhere you look from developing countries to the so-called developed world  – it’s more than a little encouraging to see the business world earnestly giving something back and setting a strong example to future generations of leaders.

It is however important to remember that every contribution whether it be financial or through voluntary contribution, is helpful. So business giving is a value that can be embedded in small to medium to large organisations alike and is a huge unifer and liberator for employees.

Annette Gann Camden 360 Communications

Friends enjoy a 10% discount

Grab a bargain and book your discount place at the UK CSR & Sustainability Showcase at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire for only £90 for a delegate place for our affiliate groups including SBF, AAW and FSB.

Click here to book your special rate place at UK CSR & Sustainability Showcase 2014 .

A great line up of speakers from Tata Technologies, HS2, Greggs, The Co-operative Group, Pubstuff, The New Optimist Forum will inspire and inform you.

As well as an eclectic mix of talks and interactive workshop style sessions, you will benefit from a complementary exhibition, networking opportunities and a vibrant Q & A panel.

Welcome!

More and more organisations are recognising the value of having a defined corporate social responsibility strategy for the whole business identify with and delivery upon. Great reputations are built upon what you do rather than what you say.

Whether you fall into this category and are already implementing a strategy or you have limited awareness but sufficient interest in commencing your journey, the UK CSR and Sustainability Showcase 2014 is an absolute must for you to attend.

If you are responsible for HR, Marketing, Health, Safety and the Environment, or the Supply Chain, or you have complete responsibility for CSR within your business, then you will find that all of these areas will be addressed during this daylong event.

This inaugural event brings together both seasoned and new practitioners to share, network, learn and exhibit.

As well as an eclectic mix of talks and interactive workshop style sessions, you will benefit from a complementary exhibition, networking opportunities and a vibrant Q & A panel. Registration for this is just £199 + VAT for the day and includes entrance, refreshments, lunch as well as a set of conference proceedings which will be provided afterwards.

E-mail carolelongden@longden.co.uk if you would like to book a stand, reserve a delegate space or are interested in advertising or sponsorship opportunities.

We hope that this national event will provide an enduring forum that we can evolve together to create a supportive arena to discuss CSR and watch it flourish in the coming years.