The constant demands on businesses to support a wide range of community initiatives can lead to a fragmented approach that fails to satisfy every need.
Many companies now have a more co-ordinated approach – lawyers Pinsent Masons is one that has found a programme that manages its corporate responsibility strategy is a solution.
The ‘Starfish’ CR programme has been running for a year – it brings a formal structure to the many pockets of existing activity in place across the firm.
Jonathan Fortnam, the corporate responsibility partner, said: “Our approach to corporate responsibility reflects our strategy as a leading global law firm and we have included all of our offices in the launch of our programme.
“The CR programme has gone from strength to strength and within six months of the launch almost a third of our people were actively participating. We continue to build on this and the enthusiasm within the firm for the programme is very encouraging.”
The focus of our community investment is ‘inspiring young lives’ and each office has been working to develop partnerships with schools.
This means for a team from the Birmingham office have created a partnership with St Matthew’s Primary School in Nechells.
About 55 people visit St Matthew’s on a weekly or fortnightly basis to support a ‘Right to Read’ programme aimed at increasing reading ages for children in years 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Through our corporate partnership with Warwickshire County Cricket Club and Edgbaston we have organised and sponsored a guided tour of the international facilities there and a cricket game for children at St Matthews.
Team challenges have included creating a wildlife garden, painting and furnishing a classroom to donating books to the new library project.
Mr Fortnam said: “We can measure the success of our CR programme by the impact it has on the local community we are working with, but we also recognise that in order for our commitment to be sustainable it is crucial that we continue to review how it is benefiting our people.
‘‘We want to engage as many of our staff as possible by providing a menu of opportunities which will create unique personal development and training opportunities as well as allowing them to give something back to the local community.”
The firm’s other initiatives include national sponsorship of Chance to Shine, the Cricket Foundation’s mission to bring cricket back into state schools and partnership with SOS Children’s Villages – the world’s largest orphan and abandoned children charity.
At an environmental level since February 2007 the business has been carbon neutral for business travel and implemented recycling and energy saving schemes.
Mr Fortnam said: “In all of these things, we know that our support needs to be financial and practical and it is in this combination of response that we have found and we hope will continue to find that what we do matters and that we can make a difference.’’