Before joining Digital Technology Labs (DTL) I spent 5 years working in the Corporate Responsibility team at IBM, which focused on responsible business activities. I was fortunate enough to work with and manage a large community of IBM volunteers who regularly went out into local schools and charities and shared their knowledge and skills through a range of community programmes and events.

Being a responsible business means different things to different people, it could be through environmental awareness and minimising a companies’ impact and carbon footprint, ensuring that ethical suppliers and practices are used, having a diverse and inclusive workforce, creating a work environment for staff that enables wellbeing or giving back to local communities through volunteering or financial support/contributions.

All the above are very important to consider and companies should take steps to make a positive impact and be a responsible business.  While larger companies may have a lot more resources to invest in being a responsible business – small-medium sized companies should also spend time and energy thinking about the ways in which they can make a positive difference.

The benefits of devoting time to developing a corporate responsibility strategy/plan are numerous. Some benefits include the following, but there are lots more:

  • Employee engagement and retention – by providing opportunities for staff to support communities (through volunteering or fundraising activities) this can have a big impact on employee morale and also job satisfaction and in-turn retention levels.
  • Employee wellbeing – by creating a supportive, flexible and nurturing work environment, employees can thrive in their role and develop their careers which also has a positive impact on company stakeholders or clients.
  • Customer growth and support – Customers increasingly don’t accept unethical business practices or organisations who act irresponsibly. By ensuring a mindful and ethical approach to ‘doing business’ this will have a positive impact on attracting and retaining customers.
  • Save money – by proactively addressing a companies’ environmental impact and reduction of their carbon footprint this will help with the reduction of energy and operating costs.
  • Foster innovation – by having a diverse workforce and employees from a range of backgrounds, this can lead to increased innovation and creativity. Numerous studies support the notion that diversity breeds creativity and innovation. If you have a team of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, it makes sense that you’ll have a broader range of solutions and ideas offered.

Whilst it’s early days for us at DTL in terms of developing our own responsible business strategy – there are some things which we’ve already done or implemented.  Over time, we will be doing even more, but we think it’s a good start….

Employee Wellbeing

Our Founder Kev is passionate about staff wellbeing and ensuring that we work in a supportive, nurturing and fun work environment. For example:

  • Flexible working – as long as the work is completed there is not a focus on sticking to strict work times.
  • Having an ‘open door’ policy whereby we can discuss any personal or work-related issues.
  • At the end of our weekly team meetings sharing inspirational/motivational videos/stories – each person takes it in turn to share these.
  • On our recent staff away day we had an anxiety management coach teach us some practical exercises to manage anxiety/stress.
  • Social outings – staff were taken out for a meal and crazy golf to celebrate the completion of a big client project.
  • Encouraging staff to take ‘power naps’ at work in a quiet place if they are feeling ‘out of sorts’ or physically tired.

Kev also has an aspiration for when the company expands further to have a ‘Chief Wellness & Productivity Officer’ who would actively think about other ways that employee wellbeing can be fostered and implemented.

Supporting local communities and charities

  • DTL is an active member of the Organisation for Responsible Businesses (ORB) and abides by ORB’s code of practice and ethos. As well as this, DTL recently sponsored a ‘Double Whammy’ event which are monthly networking events run by ORB which also raise funds for selected charities. The Double Whammy that we sponsored was in support of Southend RNLI, who are truly amazing. As well as meeting some great people we also had a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the station, which was fascinating.
  • Typically charities have limited funds and need to invest as much money into delivering their services and support to those that need them. With that in mind, we have worked with charities in the past to offer a discounted rate in terms of web design and development and we also offer ‘pro-bono’ support to selected charities. For example, we worked with Southend In Sight to build and launch their revamped website and provided ad hoc support to Safe Essex.

RNLI SouthendRNLI Southend

RNLI Southend RNLI Southend

If you have any ideas or thoughts to share about being a responsible business – we’d love to hear about them, please leave a comment below.

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