Corporate social responsibility has become a priority for leadership teams – many making huge strides forward in addressing concerns about both social and environmental issues.
By doing it well, organisations can showcase their brand in a positive light, reach new audiences, and consequently grow faster than competitors who are not.
However, at the other half, we believe that doing it well does not mean you are doing it right.
Competitive advantage can be achieved several ways, but the trust factor is invaluable. Genuine CSR can lead to confidence in powerful quantities, meanwhile, cheap marketing stunts, not so much. It has never been easier to tell the difference.
Authentic CSR is about engaging in activities that have a genuinely positive impact on society, generating those all-important relationships with communities.
But with larger organisations faltering in their ability to meet the needs of localised stakeholders, there is currently a significant opportunity for the establishing stronger relationships.
Therefore, through our frameworks and engagement programmes, we help sports organisations, whatever their size, develop mutual and robust partnerships between society and business.
We are able to approach this from a variety of ways to tailor to each specific circumstance, but it is always important to map out the social impact of the organisation, looking at how each part area of your enterprise can add value. By identifying these, we can match them with critical issues that the business can help to address, without disrupting regular activities.
To ensure long-term benefit, organisations must implement these CSR initiatives in the core of their strategies, always finding opportunities to enhance their reputation by contributing society’s development.
This is something Stoke City’s Community Trust have achieved with their annual ‘Big Sleep Out’, raising understanding of homelessness and growing from 67 initial participants to more than 250 in February at their fifth consecutive event.
For one night, club employees, fans, and famous faces join together to sleep rough in and around the bet365 Stadium, raising money for homeless people. This ensures awareness is gained not just through news and digital campaigns, but experience.
Former Stoke manager and Manchester United star Lou Macari founded the Macari Centre to provide safety and shelter for people in the Potteries without a roof over their head.
Importantly, the initiatives are working. Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s annual review showed the number of people on the streets had halved in the city since 2018.
But with homelessness also a nationwide issue, many other clubs have now followed the Potters footsteps in tackling it in their own areas, as well as other local and national problems – Everton Football Club’s charitable arm, for example, recently received planning permission to build The People’s Place as a facility for citizens struggling with mental health.
With their key significance in communities already, the impact sports teams and their charitable foundations can have in championing positive change cannot be underestimated.
Companies need to organise themselves in a way that makes them conducive to change; they must shift from a defensive structure to a proactive approach to social issues, moving from a focus on good CSR for PR, to good CSR for society.
Start small and build from there, at the other half we offer support for clubs and organisations who want to add value in society and engage in community CSR initiatives – and we welcome the opportunity to understand more about your objectives and to establish how we can work with you to achieve them.