Employee Community Involvement

December 01, 1993


Whitbread is the overall winner of the 1993 Employees in the Community Awards, presented on November 17 to companies which best encourage and support employee volunteering in the community. The Royal Mail won the public sector category for its employee-led Community Action Programme. In the best small company category, Jones Stroud Insulation won for its long term support for local schools. Whitbread, which also won the large firm category ward, was praised for having made employee involvement in the community part of its company culture, with a full time Employee Volunteer Manager, and for offering advice to other companies.

Over 150 organisations, a three-fold increase on last year, entered the awards scheme which is organised by Business in the Community and sponsored by Grand Metropolitan and the Voluntary Services Unit of the Home Office. The chair of the panel of judges was Howard Davies of the CBI. Eight regional awards were included and presentations were also made to IBM’s Retiree Programme for best single project, Joshua Tetley for best new programme, Marks and Spencer for employee development and Sun Microsystems for best voluntary/community sector partnership. Contact Natalie Corren, Scope, on 071 379 3234


The Prime Minister, John Major MP, invited business to join with him in spreading the message of “responsible capitalism” and called for people “to get back to basics – the instinctive values of neighbourliness, decency and consideration for others”. He was speaking at the Per Cent Club AGM on October 19 where he announced several new initiatives to encourage more people to take up voluntary work:

the eventual creation of a national network of reference points for volunteers;

a awards scheme to recognise the best voluntary projects, with local groups bidding for grants for projects that increase the scale and impact of voluntary effort;

encouragement for public sector employees to support the Prince’s Trust Volunteers scheme – the target is to raise the numbers involved from 2,000 to 25,000 a year over the next 3 years.

The new awards scheme, entitled You can make a difference, will support projects such as databases and information points for volunteering opportunities. The Prime Minister expressly asked businesses to get involved. The move is a start towards fulfilling the volunteering pledges in the Conservatives’ election manifesto. Contact Jackie Spencer, Home Office VSU, on 071 273 2146


Business placements in the community through Action Resource Centre, the leading secondment and employee volunteering broker, increased by 85% in 1992/1993, according to its annual report published on October 25. A total of 750 people from 133 private and public sector employers used their business skills in the community as secondees or volunteers. This latest figure brings the average growth over the last five years in placement numbers to 50% per year. The biggest type of placement continues to be ARC Development Assignment, a 100-hour project-based secondment used to develop the skills of employees.

Meanwhile news comes that ARC and the Employees in the Community campaign, run by Business in the Community, are to combine forces early next year. A new body will be set up, called Action: Employees in the Community, to be chaired by Nick Temple, chief executive of IBM UK. In preparation, ARC has moved to share premises with BITC in central London. Contact David Hemsworth, ARC, on 071 629 2209


An active community affairs programme can improve corporate performance, according to a recent survey of 700 key opinion leaders published to coincide with the Per Cent Club annual meeting. Among the findings are:

83% believe that community involvement results in a more committed and happy workforce;

81% believe that a reputation for being socially responsible is becoming a competitive advantage;

76% believe that corporate community involvement will see long term gains in improved sales and profitability.

The survey, carried out by Opinion Leader Research and sponsored by Barclays, British Airways, IBM, National Power and Whitbread, interviewed company chairmen, chief executives, senior commercial managers, journalists, City analysts and the representatives from the not-for-profit sector. It concluded that a better communication effort is required to convince more companies and to overcome media scepticism. Contact Viki Cooke or Deborah Mattinson, Opinion Leader Research, on 071 242 2222


Six London-based companies won Dragon Awards, presented by the Lord Mayor of London on 22 October, in recognition of contribution to their contribution to the community. The six winners were: Lloyds of London for support of classroom teaching in Tower Hamlets; Grand Metropolitan for accommodation and training/employment for the homeless people through the Foyer Federation; Body Shop for its support of the “Big Issue”, the magazine sold by the homeless; IBM UK for its support of 250 employees as school governors; WH Smith for its help in the setting up of a telephone line to the Samaritans; John Mowlem Construction for its training scheme during the renovation of a run-down housing estate. The Awards, now in their sixth year, are organised by BITC and sponsored by LBC Radio. Contact Tracey English, BITC, 071 629 1600


Employee involvement generally and volunteering in particular go from strength to strength. Congratulations are due to the companies and their staff who won recognition for their programmes. For the future, the bringing together of ARC’s 20 year old secondment expertise with the newer Employees in the Community campaign should overcome some of the confusion in employers’ minds about who does what and where to go for help.

It is also good to see the Prime Minister taking the time to come to a Per Cent Club meeting, even if he had to struggle hard to link his “back to basics” theme with this new and dynamic factor in community involvement. Obviously the ‘You can make the difference’ award is a step forward but it is hard to see it making much real difference (excuse the pun) and the ideas for a national network are still undeveloped. So the first step of the new merged ‘Action: Employees in the Community’ body should be to issue a clear agenda for action by government and companies. The the desired quantum leap in volunteering can be achieved.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 13 – December, 1993