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    How helping charities and communities helps businesses

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    Unum’s 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Report shows why CSR should be a part of every business’ ethos.

    Unum’s 2018 Corporate

    This week, we published ‘The power of time’, our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for 2018. As we reach the halfway point in our two-yearly partnership with national charity, Child Bereavement UK, and our local charities, halow and Ark Cancer Centre Charity, the report summarises the work we have done with these, plus more than 100 other charities, voluntary organisations and academic institutions.

    At the time of publication, we had posted some impressive figures, including:

    • £200,000 donated in charitable grants
    • £55,000 raised for our national and local charity partners

    But there’s more to CSR than numbers and fundraising. ‘The power of time’ also highlights the vital part played by Unum’s staff who together willingly give up thousands of hours to help worthy causes – backed by the full support of the company.

    Malcolm McCaig, Unum UK’s Chairman says: “It’s all about the time we put into these relationships – the volunteer work that underpins fundraising activities, and the donation of our individual and collective skills to help with specific requirements. It is about working in partnership.

    “Unum UK has a generous volunteering programme, where our employees can give back two days annually to charities and community projects. Every year we see a high level of take up by our staff for this programme.” This year, staff have already donated more than 3,000 volunteering hours, with this figure set to significantly increase before the year is over.

    Diversity and inclusion

    Corporate Social Responsibility should also incorporate environmental concerns, and promote diversity and inclusion regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

    “Diversity enables us to have a broad range of views, ideas and perspectives – making our business stronger and helping us to better connect with our customers and communities,” says Peter O’Donnell, Unum UK’s CEO. “As well as making Unum welcoming for all, we have continued to promote diversity and inclusion throughout 2018 to help ensure everyone can be themselves and reach their full potential.”

    Mutual benefits

    The success of Unum’s CSR initiatives has not only benefitted the company’s external communities and charities, but has also had a positive impact internally. For example, our commitment to mentoring young people and the launch of our charity trustee programme for senior staff can be a fulfilling experience, while also enhancing personal and professional development.

    There can be a tendency to view CSR as something that concerns only large businesses. But supporting charities, and community and voluntary organisations can prove just as beneficial for SMEs.

    Susan Sanderson, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Unum, believes that CSR is something that every company, regardless of size, should consider.

    “More and more people are coming into companies with an expectation that the business will have a community focus, and will want to know what opportunities there are for them to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves,” says Susan.

    With the growing expectancy that companies are assets to their local and wider community, CSR considerations have become a vital point on prospective employees’ checklists.

    There are also plenty of benefits in supporting charities and communities for the company. “It’s great for employee engagement and team-building, as well as your own personal wellbeing and resilience,” Susan adds. “There are so many opportunities for people to enhance their professional development in ways they may not have previously considered.”

    Communication, leadership and coaching abilities are just a few of the assets that can enrich an employee’s skillset through volunteering outside of the workplace. These experiences lead to a more capable workforce, and a more engaged employee.

    How to get involved

    When it comes to getting involved with charities, it can be hard to know where to start. Susan suggests organisations first look to their own employees.

    “At Unum, we’ve decided to leave the decision in the hands of our colleagues. They nominate the charities that they are involved with, or would like to support, and we then decide democratically.”

    For SMEs, she suggests looking locally and talking to staff. There may be employees who are already involved with local charities that can be a source of inspiration when setting out a CSR plan.

    When it comes to promoting CSR and working with charities, there are advantages for both the business and the communities they choose to support.

    “Having employees that are going above their day job and lending their professional skills to charities that might not be able to afford the same level of expertise in-house really helps the charities - and the employee’s own professional development,” adds Susan.

    “Embracing CSR really is a win-win for everyone involved.”

    Read Unum’s 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Report here.