Corporate Social Responsibility: Making a difference in the local community
Access North Structures’ MD Berenice Northcott recently featured in Topic UK’s January ‘CSR Showcase’, talking about why corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is central to how she runs the company. If you missed the story, you can read it in full below!
- Why is Corporate Social Responsibility important to the way you run your company?
Within our team, we’ve worked hard to create an integral culture of CSR – it’s not a side thought. That’s why, alongside supporting local community clubs, workplace wellbeing is a huge focus for us and underpins most – if not all – of our business decisions. Ensuring we have a happy team on board is key to keeping the whole company moving forward, so we prioritise the health and happiness of our workforce above all else. And getting everyone involved in the causes we support is also fantastic for building strong relationships within the business too.
We’re very switched on when it comes to environmental responsibility as well. Rope access as a technique is renowned for being the most eco-friendly method of working at height, so we’re happy to offer a viable option to clients that care about the environment and want a reliable, greener and more discreet alternative to powered access equipment and scaffolding.
- What is the latest CSR project/fundraiser you are working on and what do you hope to achieve?
Internally, we’ve had a busy year implementing new policies and facilities to enhance our working environment, and we’re already seeing the benefits. Central to this, we’ve made autonomy a priority and established Access North Structures as a micro-management-free-zone by offering flexible working and unlimited holidays to all employees. While this might sound too good to be true – or like a reckless business move – our team’s happiness is important to us, and we trust them entirely to meet all work requirements alongside these benefits. We’ve also invested in little perks like installing height-adjustable desks and providing quality, homely accommodation for our team when they’re working away.
Outside of the office, we frequently seek out opportunities to back community sports clubs. Teamwork and commitment are two of our key values, so we love helping out groups that encourage all ages and abilities to get involved. Most recently, we’ve signed up to sponsor Huddersfield Rugby Union Football Club over the next three years. Our annual contributions will go towards essential facilities as well as the development of senior and junior teams.
- How do you decide what causes to support?
Ours is a very active profession by nature – scaling buildings using only ropes and a couple of anchor points is not for the faint hearted! Sadly, the endless benefits of getting youngsters engaged in physical activity still doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as it should, even though it’s such an important aspect of wellbeing at all stages of life. So, a large part of why we choose to back clubs such as HRUFC is to help improve the facilities available to kids in the area and encourage them to get active – for fitness and for fun!
- How do you gain the buy in of your team and get them involved in CSR activities?
Our focus on ‘local’ CSR means that gaining the buy in of the team is never difficult. We’re firm believers that helping out where we can is a brilliant way of bringing people together, so sponsorship and fundraising ventures are always great for everyone involved in the business. In the future, we’re hoping to expand this support to charitable causes alongside sports clubs, so this will be another exciting endeavour that the whole team can get stuck into. And I’m sure once the weather starts warming up a bit, there will be a few more of us down watching the rugby on a weekend!
- If another company asked you how to go about starting or increasing their CSR activity, what would you say?
I’d definitely advise looking for opportunities that align with your company values and listening to your team about what they’d like to do. Starting with small internal improvements and being open to trying new things can really enhance the overall atmosphere in your business too – prioritising wellbeing and nurturing a happy working environment will only help with getting more of the team on board when you decide on an external cause to support.
- How do you decide how much time per week/month/year your business dedicates to CSR activity?
It’s not something we’ve specifically allocated for to date – we simply try to support local ventures where and when we can. Admittedly, it is something we’d love to spend more time on and we will be looking at ways we can do this as we move into 2018.
- To date, how has your Corporate Social Responsibility activity helped your company to expand its business networks?
Community sports clubs are renowned for their sociability and family-like atmosphere, and backing local teams has so far proven helpful for networking and getting the word out there about what we do too. Supporting worthwhile causes says a lot about the type of company you are – as well as the kind you want to be – and people really do value organisations that actively show that they care about wider causes.