New partners for social cohesion

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Posted in: Analysis/Comment, Employees, Speaking Out

New partners for social cohesion

October 01, 1997

EUROPEAN EMPLOYEES

Marking its 125th anniversary, Kimberly-Clark, manufacturer of Kleenex, Andrex and other personal care products, has launched a new pan-European focus to its community relations. Central funding of up to 62,500 per project is being offered to company sites across Europe, to encourage employee participation, other in-kind support and local cash contributions. Over half the sites have already formed partnerships between teams of employees and community not-for-profit organisations, with projects already underway in Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Britain. Contact Sarah Portway, Kimberly-Clark, on 01737 736119

GAINING FROM DIVERSITY

The European Business Network for Social Cohesion held a conference in Lyon at the end of September on the business benefits from ethnic diversity. Sponsored by Sofirest, Levi Strauss and the European Commission, participants included Groupe Accor, ABN Amro, BT, Littlewoods, McDonalds and Midland Bank. In a report to the conference, the EBNSC presented 40 case study examples, covering recruitment, training, social investment and help for small firms.

The EBNSC has also just published a study of company involvement in job creation and small business support. It’s None of Your Business – or is it? contains case studies from 20 companies and over 30 partnerships from across Europe and sets out the benefits to business from getting involved in tackling social exclusion. Contact Graham Shaw, LEntA, on 0171 236 3000 or Anne Vandenhende, EBNSC, 00 32 2 549 0301

FRENCH JOBS

The French government is aiming to create 350,000 permanent jobs for young people aged 18 to 26 undertaking socially useful tasks. The five year programme offers 80% state funding for 22 types of job, with the balance provided by social welfare agencies, not-for-profits and voluntary business contributions. Work includes childcare, help for the housebound, and auxiliary youth and social workers. No compulsion through loss of benefits is threatened. A further 350,000 new jobs in private industry are also being sought, partly through cuts in the working week. Contact Pierre-Henri Deshayes, French Embassy, on 0171 201 1031 or Ministry of Employment on 00 33 1 42 75 8000

RESPONSIBLE SWISS

A group of companies have come together to found a new organisation to promote corporate social responsibility in Switzerland. Based in Geneva, Enterprise dans la Cit? aims to increase the numbers of companies involved in their communities, focusing particularly on social problems such as rising unemployment. The first meeting of the advisory board was held on August 25 and members include Claude B?b?ar, president of Groupe AXA, Joseph Despature, president of Damart System and Francis Randin, president of Unicible. Contact Bettina Ferdman, EDLC, on 00 41 22 823 1253

ACTION ON HIV/AIDS

A group of companies and not-for-profit organisations have formed the European AIDS and Enterprise Network, with support from the European Commission and the French government. Launched in Paris on September 26, the aim is to help companies develop appropriate responses to issues posed by the presence of HIV positive people in the workplace, while encouraging them to get involved in preventing the spread further. The Network has a national coordinator in each EU country and a European secretariat is being formed. Contact Kathryn Kerrigan, Bruce Naughton Wade, on 0171 620 1113

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As Community Affairs Briefing was going to press, several hundred business executives from across Europe began gathering in Copenhagen for a major conference “New Partnership for Social Cohesion”. The line up of speakers and the range of workshops was impressive. That such a conference was being held attended by so many leading companies is welcome in itself, and is just another sign that corporate citizenship is not an Anglo-Saxon exception but becoming the international norm.

The significance of the conference goes further, to the venue – Scandinavia – and the organisers – the Danish government. Scandinavia was the heartland of the social democratic model, where only three sectors in society mattered: government, business and trade unions. Business created the wealth, governments taxed and spent it, unions protected the people (or at least those in work), and there was little or no room for voluntary action on social issues. Now they are searching for an alternative model. In Germany unemployment has reached a post-war high and new solutions for social cohesion are being sought.

So there is a real chance for Britain to take the lead in Europe when it assumes the Presidency of the European Union in January 1998. Here is an opportunity for community affairs managers to brief their public affairs colleagues to lobby the government to put corporate citizenship centre stage in Europe next year.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 36 – October, 1997

COMMENT:

Corporate citizenship used to be seen as an Anglo Saxon phenomenon. Now companies and governments across Europe are seeking new solutions to social problems.

As Community Affairs Briefing was going to press, several hundred business executives from across Europe began gathering in Copenhagen for a major conference “New Partnership for Social Cohesion”. The line up of speakers and the range of workshops was impressive. That such a conference was being held attended by so many leading companies is welcome in itself, and is just another sign that corporate citizenship is not an Anglo-Saxon exception but becoming the international norm.

The significance of the conference goes further, to the venue – Scandinavia – and the organisers – the Danish government. Scandinavia was the heartland of the social democratic model, where only three sectors in society mattered: government, business and trade unions. Business created the wealth, governments taxed and spent it, unions protected the people (or at least those in work), and there was little or no room for voluntary action on social issues. Now they are searching for an alternative model. In Germany unemployment has reached a post-war high and new solutions for social cohesion are being sought.

So there is a real chance for Britain to take the lead in Europe when it assumes the Presidency of the European Union in January 1998. Here is an opportunity for community affairs managers to brief their public affairs colleagues to lobby the government to put corporate citizenship centre stage in Europe next year.

COMMENTS