Tag Archives: ethical careers

Building a sustainable future on investible solutions

In the New Year Bristol will be crowned European Green Capital, so now is a good time to start thinking about what this means and how you can get involved.

Within the student community awareness of the need to act to create change is apparent. So too is opportunity to action, with curricular and extra-curricular opportunities to engage in across a broad scope of fields. There may, however, be a gap in thinking about the type of action that is most needed to achieve sustainable goals.

Recently, Basecamp participated in the Emerge Conference, run by Said Business School Oxford. We learnt a lot. The conference focused on social enterprise and ways in which it is reaching out across the world to create profitable sustainability. This may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Social enterprise refers to businesses that trade with a mind to social purpose and divert some of their profits into sustainability action, within their company or outside it. The magic of this kind of business is that it makes good impact financially attractive and thus proves itself as a key catalyst to a better future.

As well as taking the Green Capital title, Bristol is also a Social Enterprise City. This is a perfect set up for real change that not only grabs the volunteers but also the big financial investors interested in a mostly economic bottom line. This kind of action is one that provides a solution to the current problems of value assessment in only monetary terms and gives economic return as well as sustainable change. Believe it or not social enterprise growth is currently outdoing more conventional shareholder models.

Getting involved with the European Green Capital initiative is a great way to enhance your CV and will evidence your interest in this area. Additionally, taking part in social enterprise related activity will develop your commercial awareness which is a key skill that employers look for. It will also develop your understanding of the commercial world should you wish to start your own social enterprise in the future.

Many of these activities can be used towards the Bristol PLUS Award such as volunteering and The Change Maker Challenge which is taking place at the University of Bristol on November 21st & 22nd.

So if you think of yourself as a budding businessman, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, an environmentally minded person or a change-maker, then you should think about social enterprise. Never before have these kinds of people been able to join together and achieve all their aims simultaneously. Green Capital 2015 is a chance for you to inform yourself, join in from whatever perspective grabs you, and become a change-maker through social enterprise.

Written by Molly Bishop, Enterprise Consultant at Basecamp
& Jenny Green, Bristol PLUS Award Coordinator

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What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR as it is more commonly known, describes the way a company accounts for the impact of its business activities. This includes:

  • Impacts on the environment – use of resources, impacts on climate change
  • Impacts on social needs – poverty, equality, health, promoting strong communities with the resilience to cope with change, support for youth, education, older people
  • Impacts on cultural heritage – the importance of diversity and the protection of the things we value as our heritage.

The CSR definition used by Business for Social Responsibility (http://www.bsr.org/en/) is: ‘operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business.’

CSR is a top priority for many organisations today and employers increasingly want evidence that potential employees have clear ethics and a good understanding of the role CSR plays within businesses.

“Having strong CSR platforms enables companies to conduct their business in a way that is ethical, whilst taking account of their social, economic and environmental impact. It is important that as potential employees of a company you fully understand the role CSR plays within the business, it’s main purpose in fulfilling their goals and mission and how it is now seen as an important way to increase competitive advantage, protect and raise brand awareness and build trust with customers and employees”.

Martyn Flynn, Talent Acquisition Manager, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Every organisation interacts with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. CSR is about managing these relationships to produce an overall positive impact on society, whilst making money.

Companies approach CSR in different ways and it’s likely that organisations will have several CSR activities. Many companies start with small projects such as giving money to charity or creating recycling policies because these activities are quick and easy to decide on and implement. The Green Impact scheme developed at Bristol is a good example of this: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/environment/green_impact.  Ideally, organisations will move towards CSR strategies that focus on truly adding value for the business and society.

Below are a few examples of what real businesses are doing to address CSR:

Having knowledge of CSR is now part of the Bristol PLuS Outstanding Award requirments. Find out more on the Bristol PLuS Award webpages: http://www.bris.ac.uk/careers/plusaward/Index.asp

Jenny Smith, Bristol PLuS Award Coordinator