EN speaks to o3e, a pioneer for closer collaboration between event agencies and community.
During the summer of 2019, we were able to offer a position to a Sussex University Business School Intern. During the two months the intern was with us, we had philosophical discussions about what business is for. The course he was on taught him that businesses were there to build value for shareholders. This was a view expounded by the 60’s economist Milton Friedman. For me, I had a different idea on what business is for. It is an organisation actively engaging with all its stakeholders; this does of course include shareholders/owners but importantly includes customers, employees, suppliers and wider society. This approach is beginning to get traction and has a new term – Environmental and Social Governance (ESG).
As a small business owner, getting the balance right is important – build a sustainable, thriving business and deliver for society. Most companies will have policies that address sustainability and these are a given for any responsible business.
These policies are essential and help stake the business’s place as a valued member of the community. We can all do much more. A survey by Taylor Nelson suggested that businesses who actively engage with their community reduce staff turnover.
Here are some ideas that businesses of any sizes can do to grow their ESG.
Some local charities and community projects offer the opportunity to volunteer. Mudchute Farm based on the Isle of Dogs provides such opportunities. It works closely with firms located in Canary Wharf and caters for small groups. A typical day could involve mucking out, feeding animals or helping with the upkeep.
Semble (formerly Project Dirt) brings community projects together with companies to fund programmes organised by neighbourhood groups.
Semble has national coverage. A typical day of volunteering may involve refurbishing a community centre or children’s playground, helping maintain a community garden or even cooking for groups who need a helping hand.
Barnardo’s has an ongoing campaign where it has teams from different companies or departments competing in a sales challenge. Using all the teams resources, the task is to sell as much as possible in a single day. This works really well for small groups of six to 10 people and provides a networking opportunity with other organisations.
Moving on to more explicit team building activities, certainly one of the most popular is Building a Bike for Charity or Charity Bike Build as we like to call it.
The great advantage is the scale, as you can start with as little as six people either as a private event or becoming part of a joiner event, here you will compete with companies within your local area whilst building bikes for local charity groups.
You can also buy a team-building event in a box, OnBoard – this inexpensive Skateboard decorating and assembly team challenge comes with all the kit, facilitators instructions, templates, charity contact and even information on sending the unused paints and stencils back for reuse.
There are also opportunities to focus on a cause and design a team-building challenge, which helps move it forward.
Recently we were approached by a company who was interested in sustainable transport for the school run. We worked with a charity who work with primary-aged children, and in conjunction with them we were able to launch a brand new challenge that delivered sustainable transportation to 20 young children.
As a small business, whatever you decide to do to engage your team, the opportunity to do it in association with your local community is always there. You just need to reach out.
And did our intern have a change of heart? You’ll have to ask him. He’s still helping us on our unique events.
Peter Lindsay is founder of o3e, the UKs largest event company totally focused on helping businesses engage with their employees whilst giving back to society. O3e are close to £1m worth of donations of equipment and money to hundreds of charity and community projects in the UK and Europe.