Engage, Enable, Enrich

Louise Cooper (CEO, Governors for Schools) discusses the benefits of volunteering for businesses and employees.  Recruitment and retention of highly skilled employees is just one advantage for those organisations who invest. Louise shares the story of one volunteer, and why other businesses should introduce a governor volunteering scheme.

Encouraging employees to volunteer as school governors has many advantages.  Primarily the education sector benefits from highly-skilled labour at no additional cost, invaluable in the face of increased budget pressures. Schools and thus school children benefit from well-informed decision making from their school’s governing body.

From an employer and employee perspective the advantages are numerous. Not does an employee have the opportunity to give back to the community, but they also gain much valued experience as a board member. 

Volunteering supports personal development which equally benefits the employer.  Notably many employers now reward staff who volunteer.  Not only do they receive paid volunteering time, typically between 2 and 5 days, but their commitment is also recognised in their annual review.

Attract, recruit and retain

Employee- supported volunteering has steadily grown in the last decade. In a 2015/2016 survey[1], an astonishing 4 million people took part in employer-supported volunteering at least once. A survey by NCVO revealed that where volunteering schemes were made available by employers, uptake was very high.  Of the respondents that had access to employer supporter volunteering schemes, almost all (99%) had participated in the last 12 months.

Corporate social responsibility also has positive implications for the commitment of employees within the organisation. A Bath University study[3] suggests that the contribution of CSR to affective commitment[4] to the organisation is at least as great as that of job satisfaction.

There is also evidence of payoffs from improved social responsibility. More socially responsible corporations are more attractive to potential employees. Such companies may therefore benefit from larger applicant pools and a more committed workforce.  Other evidence highlights that corporate social and environmental values may play a particularly significant role in the recruitment of new graduates – a marketplace poll found that 58% of UK employees believed that the social and environmental responsibilities of the organisation they worked for are very important[4].

Give, gain and be the change

At Governors for Schools we work with many businesses to embed a culture of volunteering within their organisations.  Companies such as Allen & Overy, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Bank and Barclays, to name but a few, have supported employees embarking on a school governor position.

William Samengo-Turner from Allen & Overy is one such example.

William joined A&O as a trainee in 2007. His clients span all sectors and all stages of development – from fledgling enterprises to multinationals with thousands of employees. His typical day might include a coffee with a start-up business, a discussion on IP protection, a completion call for a multi-billion-dollar transaction and finally preparing students at Sacred Heart School in Clerkenwell, where he is a governor.

A significant part of his role at A&O demands quick thinking to understand commercial and political issues facing the businesses he advises and identifying problems before they arise. William was able to harness these skills and share this expertise with his school community.

As a school governor he feels his experience has helped in a wide range of situations, from assisting with the school’s transition to academy status, negotiating commercial contracts and to leading sessions with students on business awareness. Whilst he is conscious the vast majority of work is undertaken by Sacred Heart’s staff, he strongly feels that he can use the skills he has developed whilst working at A&O to facilitate his school’s governing team.

William has been a governor for some five years.  He feels being a small part of an institution which creates such talented and dedicated young people is an enormous privilege.  It has taught him a great deal. He is particularly involved with the school’s careers and university admissions processes, helping students gain places at some of the country’s top universities has been a source of considerable pride for him.

Louise Cooper, CEO of Governors for Schools observes

“From our own research[5] with active school governors, we found that 77% are motivated to become governors in order to give something back to their community.  This fact in isolation endorses the case for a corporate volunteering policy. In addition, our research shows that of those volunteers that became school governors, 95% are likely to consider becoming governors again”

Certainly a compelling case for introducing supported volunteering in any business. If you would like to implement a governor volunteering scheme in your organisation, please contact Louise Cooper on Tel.  0207 354 9805 or louise.cooper@governorsforschools.org.uk

[1] Citizenship Survey, Community Life Survey, commissioned annually by the Cabinet Office.

[2] NCVO, UK Civil Society Almanac 2016, Volunteering rates and overview

[3] Contribution of Corporate Social Responsibility to Organisational Commitment, Bath University, 2007.

[4] Dawkins, J. (2004) The Public’s Views of Corporate Responsibility 2003, MORI.

[5] Governor for Schools, interview findings of 21 existing governors February 2018.


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