Being socially responsible is very good for business

10 May 2016

Delegates at the first ever event organised by the North East Chamber of Commerce to focus on corporate social responsibility, heard that being a ‘good’ company is a deciding factor for many jobseekers looking to take up a new role.

Tony Slimmings, managing director of Prismatic Thinking, told delegates at the event - hosted by British Chambers of Commerce Business of the Year, Hodgson Sayers - that the correlation between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and converting potential recruits into employees was now well established.

The event was chaired by NECC chief executive, James Ramsbotham, with two further presentations from Mike Wade, finance manager, Hodgson Sayers and Louise Hunter, director of corporate affairs, Northumbria Water, both of whom underlined the importance of CSR to their organisations.

Tony Slimmings said: “As a business that improves performance by challenging our clients to think differently, we are constantly looking at ways to build engaging cultures, effective teams, motivated people and inspirational leaders. CSR is at the heart of this.

“Our research conclusively shows that CSR initiatives were seen to be one of the most important priorities for job seekers when assessing a company. It is no coincidence that socially responsible companies like Hodgson Sayers and Northumbria Water have proved to be successful in attracting and retaining highly valuable employees.”

Mike Wade said: “CSR is ingrained within our business. It starts with our staff and how we look after them. We continuously look to develop talent so that we have the next generation of skilled, motivated people. It is also important that we create role models, many of our contracts managers were apprentices so they have the skills and guidance to pass onto our younger team.”

“Last year a team of people within the business established a social values committee which meets monthly to share ideas with clients and stakeholders. For us it is not about handing out money, it is working in partnership with our clients to improve the communities in which we operate. This could, for example, include guidance, training and advice for people who have been out of work for a long time and are looking to rebuild their confidence.”

Louise Hunter said: “Northumbrian Water’s vision is to be the national leader in the provision of sustainable water and waste services. Everyone in the business is aware of this goal as they are of our values of being customer focused, results driven, ethical, creative and one-team. Our vision and values are not just words, we work hard to demonstrate our commitment to them every working day through the decisions and actions we take. It is then important to continually celebrate the success of the teams and individuals who make outstanding contributions to our communities and our environment.

“Our people tell us that 84% of them are proud to work for Northumbrian Water and as many as 55% of employees do in-work community volunteering. We want to build a legacy in which people see us not just as a water supplier but as a company that is supports and understands our local communities.”

James Ramsbotham said: “being a socially responsible company may seem, at first glance, to be at odds with the primary role of a business which is to make profits. Creating a successful, sustainable business depends on a number of factors and especially in this digital age where it is very easy for companies to come under the microscope, those that build strong reputations and goodwill based on how they interact with their stakeholders, are undoubtedly in the best position to grow.”

As part of the event Hodgson Sayers’ management team fulfilled its commitment to match the £10,000 prize money it won when judged the British Chambers of Commerce Business of the Year 2015 with a further sum for the same amount, the total fund being made available to the social values committee for investment in appropriate projects delivering added value within the local and wider community.

Media enquiries: Sarah O’Mahoney, Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations. Tel: 0191 519 7451, email:

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