Linda Brown Chair of Bryson LaganSports speaks to Business Eye

I firmly believe that engaging in effective corporate social responsibility is hugely beneficial both for the company and the community in which the organisation operates, but the key word here is ‘effective’.

If you take an ad hoc, unstructured approach then there may be a short term PR win but the long term benefits that come from creating a CSR strategy and embedding it within your business strategy will be missed.

Engaging in CSR activity brings its rewards in many ways. Of course, the community organisation, voluntary group or charity you work with will gain from the expertise, clout and fundraising that can come from association with a company. They can get the benefit of business, financial, marketing and other expertise, as well as volunteers, that can help them become more strategic, more professional and more sustainable, which in turn helps them to deliver services and benefits to their stakeholders. In turn, the company that engages in long term CSR that is structured to the business objectives, discussed in the boardroom, embedded in the organisation’s values, led from the top and bought into by employees, will gain from better relationships with the local community, employee engagement opportunities for personal and professional development, increase employee loyalty, and profile and reputation raising activity amongst other benefits.

I Chair Bryson LaganSports, a social enterprise that provides personal development for disadvantaged young people, through water based activities, as well as team building and fundraising events for companies. I’ve seen at first-hand how input at board meetings from volunteer non-executives from a business background has helped LaganSports identify better ways of working, promoting activities and gaining new business opportunities.

Effective CSR relationships create a strong and healthy third sector that is an essential part of a strong and healthy Northern Ireland economy.

Click here to view this month's Business Eye, Linda's article can be found on page 69.

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