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News update from Business in the Community Ireland

Posted: Monday 18 July 11, 1.46pm GMT

A news round up from Business in the Community Ireland:

Business in the Community Ireland hosts CSR Europe and EABIS events in Dublin

Last April, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) was delighted to host in Dublin two major events. The meeting of 14 National Partner Organisations of CSR Europe involved 2 days of discussions and events with local stakeholders. The meetings were hosted by member companies ESB and Deloitte and during the two days, our European partners had the opportunity to interact with members and other key stakeholders. The sessions included a panel debate with member companies Abbott, Ulster Bank, Smurfit Kappa Group as well as Chambers Ireland.

As part of the CSR Europe meeting, BITCI also hosted a breakfast briefing session on “Non-financial performance and influencing investors” for member companies and key stakeholders from government, academia and partner organisations.

The session included a keynote presentation by John Swannick, Executive Director of EABIS – the Academy of Business in Society. John presented on the work that EABIS alongside with other key partners have assessed the incidence of non-financial or extra-financial performance into company valuation and how this can be used by investors. Further information on this can be found in the website: www.investorvalue.org

Breakfast at Wheatfield

On April 6th William Connolly, Governor of Wheatfield Prison in Dublin hosted a private breakfast for invited guests of Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI). Fifteen delegates participated and included representatives from BITCI member companies, Elan, Intel, John Sisk and Sodexo as well as other partner companies. This unique event took place in the prison.

Research shows that employment is one of the most effective tools for reducing recidivism. Most obviously employment provides financial independence, thereby facilitating a sense of stability, social connection, feelings of societal contribution and self-worth. However former offenders face multiple challenges when looking for work after prison. Unemployment can mean persistent poverty and increased susceptibility to a return to crime. The aim of the visit was to highlight these interrelationships and the impact of unemployment and crime on individuals, communities and the wider society. The cost of crime protection to local business is in excess of €1bn per annum and that the cost of imprisonment for just one person per annum is €77,222 (IPS 2009 Annual Report).

Business in the Community Ireland run a number of programmes to assist former offenders in finding employment or further training and education. Through the Linkage Service, Business in the Community Ireland supports former offenders motivated to move away from a life of crime to find education, training and ultimately employment. The majority of clients are male and aged between 18 and 24. The reasons for engaging in criminal activity are complex and often linked to issues such as family breakdown, substance addiction and homelessness. Although clients are often at different stages of life when they initially engage with The Linkage Service, they must be stable, able and motivated when working toward a placement.

On the day, delegates had the opportunity to see first-hand the quality of education and training available to the prisoners. “The tour was fantastic, it gave a great insight into what goes on inside the prison”, said one attendee. Another noted that “business has a huge role to play in terms of providing people with the opportunity to get their lives back on track”, while another delegate said “the visit opened up my mind, I could see with all the training given to prisoners how this would really benefit any business”.

In the words of Governor Connolly,

“the residents of Wheatfield are not my prisoners, they are our prisoners. They come from our communities and on release they will return to our communities”.

To break cycles of poverty and anti-social activity we need to build inclusive societies. Supporting marginalised individuals find worthwhile employment is a key component of this.

Apart from offering employment to someone with a criminal record, there are a variety of ways that Business can help enhance the employability chances of a former offender. These include career talks, job-coaching, mock interviews, job-shadowing, short term mentoring and unpaid work placements.

To find out how your business can engage with our Linkage Service please contact Paddy Richardson, Employment Programmes Manager at prichardson@bitc.ie.

Business Working Responsibly Mark Process Makes Valuable CR Benchmark

A number of companies enquiring about the Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) Business Working Responsibly Mark or already participating have indicated that their interest is linked to the feedback they will receive on their existing responsible and sustainable business practices. The score arising from the questionnaire and the qualitative feedback report amount to a valuable benchmark of existing activities. BITCI provides participants with a feedback report on their activities whether companies complete the Business Working Responsibly questionnaire only for internal assessment or whether they also progress to audit and achieving the Mark. Some participants already plan on using the questionnaire process and feedback as a way of gathering data internally and formulating a CR strategy or a CR Report.

On October 13th at the annual CEO Forum during National Corporate Responsibility Week 2011, BITCI will celebrate the first cohort of companies to have achieved the Business Working Responsibly Mark. Any companies that wish to be included in that event should note that the latest date for submission of completed questionnaires is August 15th. All companies that will have achieved the Mark by October 13th, whether or not they have already announced their achievement, will be welcome to participate in the celebration event.

Business in the Community Ireland National Corporate Responsibility Week taking place across Ireland from October 10th to 14th.

Please contact Tomas Sercovich at tsercovich@bitc.ie or Elise McCarthy at emccarthy@bitc.ie with any queries.

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