What makes a business 'responsible'?

RB Week 2017There are no written rules for being 'responsible'. Being a responsible business can mean many different things to different people.  For some it's about creating a diverse and inclusive culture, a focus on health and wellbeing or a commitment to community projects and activities. For others it's about being environmentally friendly, reducing CO2 emissions and implementing recycling initiatives and paper reduction. For me, it's about 'making a difference' – something above and beyond my day-to-day chargeable work, something to connect me to my community and something what I am proud to be a part of. 

At DWF I have seen how we as a business are committed (amongst other things) to building long lasting sustainable relationships by helping young people to achieve more in education (5 Star Futures), vulnerable people to find work (BITC - Ready for Work Scheme), and helping to protect and improve the environment (Give and Gain). As a business we are constantly innovating, testing ourselves and looking for more that we can do.  So much so, we set up our own charitable foundation in 2015! 

How and why do I contribute?

As a member of the CSR Committee, I promote internal engagement in CSR activities. I connect individuals with opportunities, team lead volunteering initiatives and help fundraise for the DWF Foundation. My aim is to get that internal buy-in from my colleagues as well as develop external relationships with organisations that can connect colleagues to community projects. 

I often get asked why CSR and on each occasion it’s a difficult question to answer without sounding like I am preaching to my audience. To me, it is my moral obligation to give back however that sense of moral obligation is hard to explain to others.

Whilst at university I volunteered at a local community church helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds in their English and Maths homework. Since then, I have cycled 186 miles for charity, marshalled runners at races for Sports Relief, taught tennis, thrown an afternoon tea party for the homeless, built vegetable boxes for a school garden plus much more. Over the last 10 years, I have overcome many contests and met some truly inspirational people. Over the next few months I am volunteering at a Children's Art Club (through Benefacto), organising and taking part in the London Legal Walk (for the London Legal Support Trust) and taking the ride of a lifetime at 100mph on Europe's longest zip line (to raise funds for the DWF Foundation). For me, it's an infectious behaviour that I will continue to be a part of.

At a business level, CSR can improve company performance from brand building and revenue generation, to customer loyalty and talent recruitment and retention. Responsible business is about doing the right things to sustain business, while also having a positive impact on society. Whether it’s championing diversity and equality amongst our people to ensuring we can attract and retain great talent, working with clients to optimise the interaction with their supply chains, saving energy, reducing carbon emissions, ethically sourcing or minimising waste – it’s all important. 

This week gives us a chance to consider what more can we be doing as individuals and as a business to improve on our successes to date and continue to create sustainable communities which are fit for the future.   

Angelee Patel

Angelee Patel, Trainee Solicitor