9th January 2017 3 minute read
The continued coverage of the refugee crises reminds of what set me on the path to doing the job I do (Head of Corporate Responsibility). The moment is as clear in my mind as if it had happened yesterday. I had been asked to be part of a group that were invited to “spend the day with some refugees displaced by the Kosovo War” who were being house on an American Army base.
So my team mates and I headed down to the base to take up this offer and took along some footballs, equipment and kit so that we could set up some games for the people we were going to spend the day with. Our naivety meant that we were not prepared for what we would encounter; hundreds of people in a fenced in area of the base with little or no possessions to call their own.
At one point I was playing ‘keepie-uppies’ with a boy who was 7 years old and out of the corner of my eye I could see a lady watching on and weeping. Through a translator I was able to find out their horrific story and her reason for shedding a tear was that it was the first time she had seen her son smile in the three months they had been there…
Reflecting on the day made me realise how we and the organisation we worked for, giving us the time, can make a difference to the lives of others. Of course, there is far more to being a responsible, sustainable business but realising the impact of our actions on others is an integral part of the approach. Ensuring that we consider and manage the social and environmental impacts of our operations as well as the economic ones will help us to build better businesses – and stronger communities.
Creating a sustainable strategy that includes the traditional CSR elements, but also looks at the systems and processes to facilitate a responsible and sustainable organisation is surely the aim. Our values and behaviours that will drive that ambition and engaging our stakeholders will take the written strategy in to reality – creating a sustainable culture.
Strong, healthy businesses need strong healthy communities to thrive and develop. What I would like to see more of is collaboration between organisations. Throughout supply chains or between charities and companies that seek to build sustainability in each other, by aligning approaches and ways of working to make the most of opportunities that exist. Supply chain management programmes should not exert a way of working that compromises organisations, and the business to charity relationship should seek to build sustainability, not promote dependence.
The key being that as individuals we all have a part to play, as it is through our behaviours that we will affect real and long lasting change and collectively we really can be a ‘force for good’. We can all choose to lead more sustainable, responsible lives both in and out of work.