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Business Council launches 'Caring Communities'

9 June 2005
Media Release

Business Council launches Caring Communities project as a practical way for organisations to make a difference

The Business Council for Sustainable Development today hosted the launch of a Caring Communities project which aims to make it easier for businesses to put something back into the community.

Rob Fenwick, Chair said that the Business Council takes on board research by the Growth & Innovation Advisory Board (GIAB) which finds that New Zealanders value quality of life and quality of the environment but think business is often part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

“We are sponsoring the launch of the Caring Community project because living in a strong, healthy, caring community is not only good for the individuals who live within it but is vital for the success of business. The GIAB research showed that New Zealanders do not think business is putting enough back into society. This may in part be because business does not know how to get involved.

This project provides organisations with the tools and more importantly the ongoing support to help businesses introduce company specific programmes which work for their employees and more importantly work for the local community.”

At a seminar for 75 business managers Project Founder Leanne Holdsworth explained how all organisations from SME’s to multi-nationals can adopt the programme through workshops, online action resources and mentoring for ‘champions of caring community’.

Business Council member Westpac was one of three organisations, along with Auckland Regional Council and CPA Australia, to trial the Caring Community project ahead of today’s launch.

June McCabe, Corporate Affairs Director Westpac is a keen supporter of the project and said: ” Westpac believes a critical aspect of building a sustainable business is understanding the impact we can have on the communities in which we operate. We take this responsibility seriously, which is why we are helping our people to work closely with their communities. We want them to understand that each individual can make a difference and it is the smaller, quieter, everyday things we do that make the biggest difference.

We want to make this part of our Corporate Social Responsibility journey meaningful, worthwhile and active for our staff, and the Caring Community Project is a great way of achieving this. It inspires individuals to take a leadership role in their communities, and we believe it brings each of our individual community initiatives together in a meaningful whole.”

The initial results from the pilot studies found that the workshops are having an impact. When asked the question, is it more likely that having attended this workshop you will do something to contribute toward caring community than you would have otherwise done, 100% of Westpac participants, 73% of ARC participants and 80% of CPA Australian participants said yes.

Holdsworth explained the impetus for her project was not just to get people to face facts but to provide business with a toolkit to do something: “New Zealanders do not tend to talk about the things that challenge our idea of the kind of community we live in; the fact that we are ranked 24th worst out of 27 OECD countries in terms of child deaths due to maltreatment, or that in a New Zealand Department of Justice study, one in five men admitted assaulting their partners within a 12 month period. But the reality is that these things do happen in our community.

She added that “Caring Communities aims to address how to re-introduce the concept of ‘citizenship’ because it is no longer modelled to children as it used to be. Utilising the business environment to conduct the conversation of ‘what is my role as an individual in contributing toward a caring community?’ connects people to the community and leverages the power of many busy “time challenged” individuals to make a difference.

Even if business can’t see the relationship between its own success and the level of care and safety we have in our community, there is a significant financial cost. The area of family violence alone is estimated to cost New Zealand between 1.187 billion and 5.302 billion dollars per year. The tax burden faced by business is obviously affected by such costs.”

Ends

FOR INFORMATION

The Business Council’s starting position is that a business needs to be profitable in order to be sustainable. Sustainable business also needs to be sensitive to the needs of their employees and to the communities in which they operate and to minimise their impact on natural resources. Business Council members employ over 50,000 New Zealanders across North and South Islands. Based on the average family size of 3, this means it is directly responsible for the livelihoods of almost 150,000 people or 4% of the population. However its real impact is much bigger as many businesses are reliant on member companies as trading partners in local communities.

In partnership with Volunteering New Zealand, the Caring Community Project includes a database of hundreds of ways an individual can make a difference – check out http://www.ccp.org.nz www.ccp.org.nz

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