Rosie Sweetman, BITC Cymru Director, writes about this year's Awards.
It’s my favourite time of year at Business in the Community. The time of year when we capture inspiring stories from around Wales and celebrate the positive contribution business makes to tackling our social, economic and environmental challenges.
I’ve been reflecting on this year’s Awards entries and the themes that have emerged from responsible businesses in Wales.
The Responsible Business Awards in Wales Shortlist
There are 21 Shortlisted entries over seven Awards categories in Wales this year.
It strikes me that the importance of this year’s awards is heightened by the fact that they’re taking place at an important time for trust in business. Since the financial crisis, there’s been a perception that the interests of business and society have become misaligned. Whether or not this is truly the case, it does present a challenge for business and leaders because trust gives business licence to operate and also underpins commercial success.
This year’s Awards entries appeared live to this challenge and increasingly sought to articulate the purpose beyond profit of the companies behind them – ultimately explaining their commitment to responsible business as driven by their core purpose. Of course how this was communicated, whether explicitly or implicitly, varied according to the drivers in the business.
As you might expect, those in leadership roles tended to emphasise purpose, values and culture. Marketing teams articulated the importance of businesses keeping promises to customers and HR teams highlighted treating employees well, inspiring talent and the future workforce. What was common to all was the importance of behaviours and actions reflecting the company’s values and purpose. In other words for it to ring true, it had to actually be authentic.
And from my perspective, this is where business in Wales can really lead the way. Not only are we the first nation to place in law the need to consider future generations, but in my experience the majority of Welsh business people are genuinely passionate about business and the community. They want to make a positive difference and understand the social and business value of behaving responsibly.
Doing this on their own can sometimes feel ad hoc and low impact. Yet Welsh Businesses are ambitious, and this is perhaps why programmes that leverage the power of the business community by bringing it together to work in collaboration, like Business Class, are proving so successful in Wales. This academic year we are working with Careers Wales to establish 60 business-school partnerships across Wales. We have organised for over a thousand employee volunteers and 57 employers to work on community projects for Give & Gain Day and we’ve delivered Lifeskills workshops to over 9000 pupils in partnership with Barclays volunteers.
So on June 30 we’ll be celebrating individual companies and their achievements but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of the business community as a whole.
Congratulations to all shortlisted companies! Together we are making a difference.
I look forward to celebrating with you at the Wales Responsible Business Awards on June 30 at Cardiff City Stadium.