A company which has built a global business on keeping people safe at work told a Humber Business Week audience how it is also investing to protect and develop communities with a comprehensive corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.
Gail Carmichael, Bid Manager at Arco, said return on investment isn’t even part of the calculation when spending on activities which range from skills and education support to major health campaigns and small community projects.
But she added that the benefits are clear and include increased appeal to potential recruits, better staff retention and higher productivity from a happier workforce.
She said: “We don’t measure against return on investment but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Being happy makes people 12 per cent more productive at work. Happier staff stay put, you save money on recruitment and there are mental health benefits.
“People work with colleagues they don’t normally work with. They see managers in a different light and there is cross-team relationship development, seeing the positive impact on others.”
Gail spoke at the event entitled “Their Future in our Hands”, organised by Hull Business Women’s Breakfast Club and hosted and sponsored by The Deep. She followed successive speakers who had urged businesses to become more involved in projects being delivered by the charitable sector to improve literacy and numeracy and to promote interest in science.
Lisa Dawson, Director of Run With It, told how the charity uses its base at the KCOM Stadium to educate, motivate and inspire in English and maths, seizing the learning opportunities presented by facilities including the club shops, changing rooms and media suite.
She said: “The stadium is a motivational and dynamic classroom and the learners apply literacy and numeracy in a different way. We are really passionate about inspiring young people to go away from the classroom and see what else is out there. If we believe in them they will start to believe in themselves.
“The business community in Hull is incredible. Everybody is inspiring me to do more because they buy into our team.”
Sandra Cooper of TeenTech urged businesses to support the organisation and in particular to get involved in the 2019 Humber TeenTech Festival at the KCOM Stadium.
She said: “Since it was set up by Maggie Philbin in 2008 TeenTech has gone from a series of events to a programme supporting career aspirations. The response from young people after their first day demonstrates a huge increase in interest in science careers.”
Paula Litten, Chair of Hull Business Women’s Breakfast Club, said the speakers for the event were selected because of their work to improve literacy and numeracy and to develop skills for a business community undergoing rapid transformation
She said: “Hull is seen as a poor relation in so many ways but there are lies, damned lies and statistics. You can get any data you want to prove any point you want to make.
“Hull has always had incredible energy and now we are seeing a rise in innovative and cutting-edge businesses moving into the area. We are a city on the up, leading the way in renewables and decarbonisation, and with these opportunities come real challenges to employ the right people with the right skills and the right attitude who can develop our companies and the economy.
“So many local business people face the same issues of finding those people while keeping their existing staff engaged in their own personal development. We have examples today of companies who are working with our local community to address that.”
Freya Cross, Business and Corporate Manager at The Deep, said: “Skills and employability are a regular talking point among members of the Breakfast Club and their networks, and education is a priority for The Deep.
“That doesn’t just mean educating young people – it extends to raising awareness among businesses of opportunities for developing their staff and as this was an even open to all we were delighted to host it and facilitate an important discussion.”
[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]