The B Corp journey has made us look at every aspect of our business, from corporate governance to staff welfare and environmental sustainability. One of the key tenets of B Corp is that companies make a positive contribution to their local community. This can take the form of charitable work or volunteering time to support local causes. Due to the nature of our business, it is difficult to identify one single ‘local community’, so we have encouraged the team to connect with their communities around the UK whilst also using the times we get together as an opportunity for group activities.
At the beginning of the last financial year, we set a target to donate 0.1% of our time to charity, which works out as 20 paid hours for every full-time employee. One year on, we are taking a look at what the team has achieved.
Picking a cause for our community work
We started with a blank canvas, allowing each member of staff to explore volunteering opportunities that resonated with them and were relevant to their communities. As a result, we have seen a diverse array of activities for our community work.
Tom Burke, BDM North & Midlands and our Charity and Community Policy Admin, recently moved out of Manchester to a village just south of Lancaster. It took him no time at all to connect with Animal Care Lancaster, a charity that takes in unwanted and abandoned animals. Tom has become a regular volunteer, walking dogs when it works with his schedule.
National Account Manager, Katie Pike, has been volunteering with Mid Surrey Community Fridges, a fantastic charity that helps reduce food waste by redistributing excess food from supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and suppliers. In a similar vein, Greig Wilson, BDM Scotland & North, has been supporting the West End Food Bank in Newcastle, unloading pallets, and packing food parcels in the busy run-up to Christmas.
Rebecca Murphy, recently promoted to the role of Sustainability Manager, has spearheaded our BCorp submission and found various ways to connect with her local community. Rebecca sits on the board of a local nursery and has volunteered her time to help plant and maintain the community planters and vegetable beds at Petersfield station. The produce from this project is used to supply the free shop at the station, which helps families who are struggling.
Joe Barrow, BDM South, started volunteering with Conversation over Borders, a charity that offers free online one-to-one English tutoring for refugees and asylum seekers. Over the course of 4 months, Joe has spent one hour of work time and one of his own time each week preparing and working through English lessons with a Sudanese refugee. Joe has found the experience extremely rewarding and would encourage anyone to participate as it can be done from anywhere in the country.
Team litter picks and B Corp collaboration
As a business located in West Drayton, we wanted to also do our bit for the community around our Drayton Hall office. We have arranged two litter picks to coincide with team meetings so that a good group of us could head out into the area around the office and along the Grand Union Canal to relieve it of rubbish. Both times, the teams returned with 10+ bags brimming with litter.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of the B Corp process has been connecting with like-minded and ambitious businesses from a range of industries. It just so happens that one of those businesses is our very own winery partner, Maison Mirabeau. They are at the same point of their B Corp journey as us, so it made perfect sense to join forces for community work. Fran Hartley, Supplier Liaison Manager, and Chris Druitt, Marketing Executive, travelled to Stepney City Farm to line up alongside the Mirabeau team for a day of shovelling, cleaning, and disinfecting the barns for some new born Manx Loaghtan lambs.
Our ambitions going into the next financial year are to build on the last. One area we will focus on is a collective company fundraising challenge. We are working on what form this takes and how best to channel our efforts, but we will be sharing this soon so watch this space!