Interview with BITC Ireland
This month, CSR Europe talks to Moira Horgan, Marketing Marketing at BITC Ireland, about how BITC Ireland is supporting companies in Ireland with developing sustainable and responsible business practices. Also discussed is how the network is tackling social exclusion in Ireland through various education and skill building initiatives.
1. Many countries in Europe are facing challenging economic climates, how is Business in the Community Ireland being affected?
Last year , we actually had record growth of the network with 11 new big companies joining and a key growth area was a number of legal firms joining us. This year, already a number of companies have joined. They are PM Group, Mercury, Dublin Airport Authority, Paypal, eBay, Stryker and Enterprise-Rent-a-Car. We also launched the Business Working Responsibly Mark, Ireland’s only certification for responsible and sustainable practices. We feel that the recession has caused many companies to take a step back and really think how they can become more sustainable in the future. Issues such as health and well being of staff, sustainable procurement, carbon emissions are increasingly becoming top of mind for CEOs past the day to day challenges they are facing. Indeed, we ran a CEO survey last year on corporate responsibility and found 7 out of 10 Irish leaders felt that the way we do business in Ireland will change. A great quote from our survey sums it up “The recession has brought about a national mind shift, a quickness among the public to question intent and integrity when it comes to business practice… doing the right thing must become a core business value.
2. You launched the Business Working Responsibly Mark last year, what has the reaction been like?
We are delighted to say that the Mark has been enthusiastically received by the business community. The Mark is open to ALL large companies in Ireland, not just members of our network so we are running a number of briefing sessions on the Mark to spread the word. In our CEO Survey last year, 71% of Irish business leaders think that Ireland should aim to become a world centre of excellence for responsible business practice and we feel this Mark is a vital step in that process. Last October, at our annual CEO Forum, the Irish Minister for Trade and Enterprise, Mr Richard Bruton awarded the first four companies who had received the Mark. They are Microsoft Ireland, Intel Ireland, CRH and ESB. We have a great video featuring the CEOs on our website www.bitc.ie and we would also love to talk to European partners about expanding the reach of the Mark.
The first recipients of the 'Business Working Responsibly' mark.
(Left to right: Microsoft, ESB, CRH and Intel)
3. How does your network collaborate together?
In many ways. We are the network for responsible business in Ireland and our members collaborate in many ways from working collectively together on climate change and health to participating in working groups on sustainable procurement. A very exciting development has been our Business Impact Map (available on the home page of www.bitc.ie). The aim of this interactive map was to collate what our members were doing in communities all across the country. We live in a digital age so we wanted to develop something quite groundbreaking and visual. The map was launched last year and received major national press coverage and we will launch the new version of the map at the end of May and two thirds or our members will be featured on it.
4. Business in the Community Ireland also run a number of social inclusion programmes helping school students, homeless people and immigrants. How impactful are these programmes?
In tandem with the one to one work we do with our member network, we also run three distinct programmes which are funded by Government as well as Business. Our first programme is School’s Business Partnership and this involves matching or ‘twinning’ a school with a local large business. To date, over 22,000 students have been impacted which is an amazing statistic. Hundreds of companies are involved and we find through our experience that many companies use it as part of their community work in corporate responsibility. Also later in the year, we will be launching a new initiative called ‘Time to Read’ under the programme which will have business people helping younger children with reading so an exciting area of development and growth. Our next two programmes are aimed at helping socially isolated people to find employment. Ready for Work helps formerly homeless people get back working and EPIC assists people from immigrant communities find jobs or enter further training. Ready for Work is a small programme working in Dublin only but has impacted the lives of 400 people and EPIC has helped over 1300 people from 92 countries.
5. How are you using social media to communicate your message?
Well follow us on Twitter at @BITCIreland or Find us on Facebook and find out! We actually have been using social media for almost 3 years and currently have around 1300 followers on Twitter and rising steadily. With our new website which was launched earlier this year as well as our monthly ezines in addition to social media tools such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and our channel on Youtube, we just aim to get out to as many people as possible. It can be a great way to reach out to CSR gurus across the world as well as to journalists, indeed in Ireland , 70% of journalists are on Twitter. We have lots to do in the area and indeed the landscape changes almost daily but we really feel that we have to leverage these tools to tell not only our story but the story of our members.
Launch of the 'Business Impact Map'.
To find out more about BITC Ireland and its activities, click here!