Commissioning Specialists Association (CSA) chairman Mark Todd offers a thoughtful piece on why we as a sector need to engage more with our local communities - and why CSR is about more than simply looking good.
As I write my column in December, the industry begins to slow a little and thoughts turn to parties, socialising, and family, and rightly so. We work to live, not live to work, and it is on this note that I want to not only wish all of you well for the coming year, but also take a moment to consider those who are having a tougher time than most.
Charity can be defined in many ways and for businesses, corporate responsibility is an increasingly important aspect of how we are viewed.
It isn’t just about looking good to governing bodies, nor is it just about PR or adhering to legal obligations. It is about relationships between society and our industry, protecting and promoting positivity in a place where local people can often feel side-lined or undermined. Conducting regular interface with communities and keeping report logs helps to show where we can impact positively on the general society we are impacting upon.
This is one of the reasons that the Considerate Constructors Scheme offers a code of practice with the aim of improving the image of our industry. Some of its guidelines include:
“Constructors should ensure sites appear professional and well managed”
• Ensuring that the external appearance of sites enhances the image of the industry.
• Being organised, clean and tidy.
• Enhancing the appearance of facilities, stored materials, vehicles and plant.
• Raising the image of the workforce by their appearance.
“Constructors should give utmost consideration to their impact on neighbours and the public”
• Informing, respecting and showing courtesy to those affected by the work.
• Minimising the impact of deliveries, parking and work on the public highway.
• Contributing to and supporting the local community and economy.
• Working to create a positive and enduring impression and promoting the Code.
“Constructors should protect and enhance the environment”
• Identifying, managing and promoting environmental issues.
• Seeking sustainable solutions, and minimising waste, the carbon footprint and resources.
• Minimising the impact of vibration, and air, light and noise pollution.
• Protecting the ecology, the landscape, wildlife, vegetation and water courses.”
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says that the emergence of ‘social value’ as a key driver for business is no fad. It states: “Social value considers more than just financial transactions and can include happiness, health, well-being, inclusion and empowerment, it’s something often difficult to measure but which is ‘of value to people in society’. Social value goes beyond traditional corporate responsibility since it actually drives core business purpose rather than sitting alongside it.”
These tenets are all construed as an act of charitable consideration and as the New Year is imminent, the CSA are fully supportive of the codes of conduct advised by the CIPD.
CSA members can also go above and beyond these basic principles and volunteer further actions within communities around our work sites.
You may ask why it is worth engaging the public. You might argue that it’s a waste of time or resources, but the CSA is a forward-looking, responsible, and honourable association and as such, I feel that going that extra mile is important. Arranging school or college talks, for example, can not only be a good way to involve and connect with the locals but also a useful recruitment tool.
Occasional events such as organising a football match can unite both sides of the project and residents, promoting harmonious relationships and smoothing the way for better communications and fewer complaints about noise, traffic, etc.
Making monetary donations can of course be a very valuable measure to give to the communities we work in. Charitable acts like this can garner press promotion and raise the profile of our firms in a particularly positive light.
I would like to extend my thanks to all CSA members and staff for a great year of hard work and continued support, and of course, a happy New Year.