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TSBC’s Newest Board Member on ‘Organisational Responsibility’

Many social enterprises and charities may think that CSR, outside of being on the receiving end of a strategy, is something which does not apply to them and I am pleased to see that TSBC is not one of them as all organisations can benefit from operating in healthy and cohesive communities.  Organisations of all shapes and size have for many years been contributing to economic development whilst improving the quality of life of their staff, volunteers, the local community and in some cases society at large, which is in essence what CSR is all about.  It’s only in recent years that buzzwords like ‘corporate volunteering’ and ‘corporate social responsibility’ have come in to circulation and I don’t think it is necessarily a question of ‘can social enterprises and charities have their own CSR strategy’ but more ‘how do we help social enterprises and charities demonstrate their CSR activities’.  If you ask a charity about their CSR strategy they would most likely shy away, but if you talk to them about their community engagement, their volunteer programmes then you’re speaking a language they understand.

To take the definition I’m working with at the moment CSR and Community Affairs are about contributing to economic development, whilst improving the quality of life of staff, the local community and society at large.  But what does that actually mean? It’s about making sure your office is as eco-friendly as possible, that your supply chains are using sustainable sources, that partner companies, especially in other countries, operate fair employment conditions and promote ethical work conditions.  It’s about promoting positive work life balances for your staff, offering initiatives which make the organisation one they are proud to work for, and of course it is about charitable acts and volunteering.  But I also think it is not just about the organisation doing but more importantly it is about fostering and promoting an environment that cultivates this ethos in all staff and partner organisations.  CSR and Community Affairs should be infectious  it should be something that people see as an opportunity not an obligation.

In the current climate I think most people would link CSR and innovation together in respect looking at sustainability and green issues.  For organisations producing a wide variety of products this can be trying to make the products more sustainable whilst other organisations try to look at how their overall business can be greener, for example looking at eco-surveys of buildings and introducing new systems such as collecting rain water on the roof and using it to fill toilet cisterns.

For any CSR initiatives to be successful there has to a sense of ownership within the organisation’s employees.  As CSR Manager I don’t think it is necessarily my role to have top social impact priorities, it’s about working with colleagues to identify the issues that are important to them, the areas that will motivate them to take action and promote the CSR activities of the organisation.

Cat Dix’s Background:

Cat joined Euromonitor International, a leading global market research company, as their CSR Manager this month. Using her expertise in developing and managing grant programmes for corporate companies, trusts and individuals she will be developing and implementing Euromonitor’s first CSR strategy. At the same time as joining Euromonitor, Cat also became one of TSBC’s Strategic Advisory Board members joining other high profile entrepreneurs, business leaders, education professionals and of course our future leaders (young people).

Prior to this Cat was a Programme Manager at The London Community Foundation (formerly Capital Community Foundation) for 5 ½ years, where she led on the Foundation’s corporate and individual donor programmes.  In this role she worked with donors to set priorities for their funds, receive and assess applications and make grant recommendations to them.  Her role also required her to support the development of organisation’s applying to the Foundation and she has extensive experience of providing funding application support.

Before this, Cat worked within academic publishing as a Production Editor.  She has a long track record of volunteering and fundraising.  She was a Trustee of the University of Bristol Students’ Union and was elected to the position of RAG Chair following the completion of her University degree.  The one year sabbatical position saw her lead a committee of 25 to organise events and facilitate volunteering opportunities for its 1,500 members.

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