18/04/2011

There’s an overwhelming number of good causes out there, so deciding what to lend precious time and resources to can be difficult. All About Brands’ Andrew Wigley, explains why the business threw its support behind Red Nose Day this year

Last month, the team in London threw themselves into fundraising for Red Nose Day. The main activity was a wine-tasting fundraiser that the guys have organised with the Embassy of Slovenia. The Embassy very kindly donated a range of Slovenian wines, little known outside Slovenia, but acclaimed by those in the know, such as the eminent Master of Wines, Jancis Robinson.

So upfront I should thank the Ambassador, Iztok Jarc and his colleagues at the Embassy, for providing those wines and introducing our team to a little known part of Europe. It made for a fun day. In my view, CSR (corporate social responsibility) should be both fun and sociable!

Of course, our Red Nose Day efforts are only one element of our CSR outreach. We don’t do this stuff lightly, and four years after inception, I have to say I’m really proud of the progress we’re making on being a good corporate citizen.

We have a Corporate Social Responsibility plan, instituted carbon offsetting across the Group as well as entered a four year partnership with the UK’s leading youth development charity, The Prince’s Trust. It’s a pretty good record.

So why did we support Red Nose Day? In putting together our CSR plan we asked for inputs from everybody in the team. Ideas flowed in — some great, some simply not feasible. One goal proposed, was that we organise a fundraiser every quarter. And when we drilled down to the topics we wanted to raise funds for, there was strong support for Red Nose Day. Why was Red Nose Day so popular? I suspect it was because it’s a high-profile, nationwide event with a big element of ‘fun’ attached to it.

CSR works when it’s from the bottom up. Imposing CSR is rarely going to work. But when employees have the opportunity to decide what they want to do in the name of their business, the impact is a lot more meaningful and there’s greater enthusiasm. Certainly, there was quite a buzz around the office on 17 March. The wine-tasting may have had something to do with it, but colleagues wore their red noses, and many dressed in red to help mark the day.

It also served as a great team-building event. We learnt a lot about each other during the day. Some of that can be done occasionally at the end of the day in the pub as well, but I think the business benefits from being seen to ‘host’ and foster a social event – especially when it’s in the name of a good cause.

I have a firm belief that business has a role in promoting the wider societal good and I am proud that AAB is integrating values of community and social responsibility into the strategy and culture of our company.

And we do it, because we know it means something to our employees. They want to see the business do the right thing and behave accordingly, and that in turn generates loyalty, productivity and, most important of all, a team of happy colleagues.

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