Developing a community partnership

In March we held a workshop at DLA Piper where year one members worked on developing community programmes. Responsible business experts and previous Heart of the City members shared their experiences in supporting communities and inspired our members to get started.

Nic Patrick, Pro Bono and Responsible Business Partner at DLA Piper, welcomed us and spoke about DLA Piper’s work around social mobility. Their Global Scholarships Programme supports law students from less developed countries and has helped to establish a strong legal profession in the countries they work in.

Next, we heard from one of our contributors Jan Phayre, Global Credit and Contracts Manager and Head of Corporate Responsibility at Sapphire Systems. Having completed our foundation programme in 2010, Jan shared insights into starting a community programme as a small business. Some of her top tips for getting started were to make your colleagues aware of what you’re doing (use posters!), get champions to create a buzz around it and make sure someone senior is visibly supporting your programme (and free pizza will get your colleagues interested in finding out more!)

After a fun table discussion where we asked everyone to think about what their responsible business ‘sweet spot’ is, we heard from Ben Darlington, Director at Benefacto. He spoke about the importance of measuring your impact, and how their tool GivX can help. He gave three reasons why measuring your impact makes sense: 1) you want to analyse your activities, 2) you want to benchmark yourself and 3) you want to celebrate what you’re doing! Benchmarking your activities against your competitors’ is a great way to get senior support for your responsible business programme – and it’s never too early to start measuring, so sign up to use GivX when it opens next week.

Carl Brooks, Head of Sustainability at MJ Mapp gave an overview of how they set up a community programme when they joined us in 2018. They’ve set up charitable partnerships with two organisations whose aims align well with their business values (they’ve found their responsible business sweet spot!) and have introduced matched funding. They’ve also focused on improving the take-up of volunteering days from staff and increased uptake from 38% to 67% in 2018.

To finish the workshop, one of our trustees Rob Powell, Head of Pro Bono and Corporate Responsibility at Weil, Gotshal & Manges shared some tips and tricks that have helped him get engagement and impact out of the community programme at Weil. His formula of materiality + passion + expertise = engagement and impact helped our members to think about how they can do the best for their communities. His tips were to think about the issues that affect your business, ask your staff what social issues they care about and consider the expertise you have in your business – then you’ll have a good idea of where to begin your community programme!

Thanks to DLA Piper for hosting us, and to all our speakers and table hosts – we hope you had a great time! The presentations are online in our members’ area now.

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