Keep your feet on the ground
When you are busy running a business, the pace of change can sometimes feel overwhelming. Staying abreast of competitor and regulatory developments, the opportunities and challenges offered by innovations in technology, and juggling the expectations and requirements of employees, customers and other stakeholders – you can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. However, by taking a step back to consider the impact and influence of your company on the community in which it operates, a host of exciting choices might arise. These ‘out of the box’ options have the potential to ground your company in a more meaningful form of operation, which will in turn imbue your customer relationships with integrity and value.
You get what you give
Ben Cohen of legendary ice-cream company Ben & Jerry’s, once said: “When we give we receive. When a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them.” Good feeling about a company is exceptionally difficult to achieve but, when you do earn it, your customers will almost undoubtedly remain loyal for years to come, will actively ‘sell’ your business to others (something which money can’t buy) and even forgive you the odd mistake. Essentially, being a socially-minded enterprise pays off – for the people you are helping, for your reputation and, ultimately, for your bottom line.
Walk the talk
It is absolutely crucial that if you do begin to make a difference in your community and in wider society, you do not let anybody down by falling short of promises. It is prudent to start small, and only say you will do what you are certain you can deliver. Nurture your local roots first, before branching out into something bigger and more impactful. Use social media to ask customers what they would like to see you doing, or where they see opportunities for your business to make the biggest difference, and listen to them. Be proud of your achievements and publicise them well. You’ve earned it.
The personal touch
Santander is proactive in encouraging businesses in their aim to be more socially responsible. Our Breakthrough programme for young, high-growth businesses is hosting a Masterclass in Corporate Social Responsibility in April and Steve Pateman, Head of UK Banking at Santander, will be launching a Business in the Community enterprise campaign in the same week.
We're keen to play our part too, last year raising £1 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care and with £40 million given to UK charities since 1990 through the Santander Foundation – this year we will donate a further £5 million. Also last year, Santander Universities contributed £6.5 million to the education sector, through projects and scholarships with 66 UK universities. Worldwide, the Group had 1,040 collaboration agreements.
Santander also works hard to stay local, with Relationship Directors based in regional Corporate Business Centres across the UK, providing in-depth knowledge and insight of the regions in which they operate. One of our guiding principles is to always listen to our customers, as we know this is the only way we can truly understand where our input fits, giving the best chance of helping a business to achieve its ambitions. As we’ve seen, one of those ambitions might be to increase your presence within your local community – please get in touch if you would like to talk through how we could help you achieve this.
For more information on Santander’s own CSR activity, visit: www.aboutsantander.co.uk/csr.aspx
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