Helen Elson, technical specialist at PR and social media agency, Approach, explains how manufacturers can benefit from getting involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) events, such as Bradford Manufacturing Week:
Not only does Bradford Manufacturing Week benefit the district’s young people, but it is also a fantastic opportunity for manufacturers to give back to the community, secure their talent pipeline and learn from the students.
With the country experiencing political flux and uncertainty affecting the everyday running of business, manufacturers may regard engaging with their communities as low down on their list of priorities. But events such as charity fundraisers, environmental campaigns and engaging with schools give businesses the chance to break their usual day to day routine and build mutually beneficial relationships with external partners.
There is a buzz amongst staff that is generated when a business actively engages in CSR events that is infectious. Employees have reported a sense of pride in seeing their company in the media for working with local causes. Many manufacturers operate ‘under the radar’, ticking over nicely but without anyone knowing they are there. For staff to see and hear the place they work is known for good work in the community has a powerful effect.
Maximise the of the difference you are making to your chosen charity or group and share the news with all employees. Newsletters to customers and contacts spread the word further and use of social media amplifies everything you do. Suddenly one small act has reached a huge audience and created a sense of wellbeing amongst everyone.
Happy workforces are notably more productive, so suddenly your bottom line is also feeling the benefit.
Whilst supporting good causes is an extremely worthwhile thing to do, it can also help meet business objectives. The exposure gained for CSR achievements can skyrocket your profile and enhance your reputation. Sales teams find it easier to get a foot in the door when they’re representing a business whose name is familiar and positive and community activities are a great way to start conversations that don’t sound like a hard sell.
In recent years CSR has become an expected part of a business’ personality. In a world where there is no escape from news, customers and suppliers are increasingly viewing reputation as important as quality and price point.
Futureproofing with the next generation
By generating interest and awareness amongst young people and new audiences through CSR you are helping to create a stream of engaged and interested potential employees. Here is a business that they’ve heard of, that sounds interesting and which cultivates an altruistic workforce that helps and engages with the community. Recruiting becomes an easier process as your profile is working hard to attract high quality candidates with a genuine interest and hunger for the chance to be part of an organisation which operates responsibly.
With skill shortages an ever-present issue in manufacturing, raising your profile and building connections through CSR is an effective way to strengthen the workforce and help futureproof the business.
Creating a CSR presence needn’t be an onerous or expensive task. Schools are often open to relationships with local businesses which can enrich lessons and bring a new dimension to the curriculum. Something that manufacturers have in abundance is a range of valuable skill sets that can easily be shared with younger generations, who then share their experience with parents which is an influential group in itself.
There is no end of community groups or good causes looking for support from local businesses and it doesn’t take a big cheque to make a significant difference. Often the donation of time and resources is as valuable as cash and can allow for a more creative approach on how to contribute. A well-considered photo to illustrate your support or event can make a big media impact. A communications agency will be able to advise on how to be more strategic in your approach and optimise activity to reach as many audiences as possible, benefitting everyone involved.
Don’t underestimate what you do it – it’s interesting
Many businesses don’t realise how interesting and inspiring what they do is to others. Don’t underestimate how newsworthy your business is and the value it has in your community. You may make rivets, but if those rivets are used to hold aircraft or luxury cars together you can make that connection part of your narrative and you start to realise that your business has great stories to tell and engaging with and involving your community provides a fantastic platform to showcase them.
Manufacturing is slowly emerging from the pre-conceptions of a world of dirty floors, dusty rooms and dead-end jobs and is experiencing a well-earned resurgence. Initiatives such as Bradford Manufacturing Week are a fantastic way to highlight opportunities in manufacturing, inspire interest amongst young people and dispel myths about what manufacturing is.
Manufacturing is a dynamic industry on which the UK was built. Keep the passion for this industry alive and inspire a new generation, future-proofing your business and the sector as a whole and get involved in Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019.
For regular updates on Bradford Manufacturing Week follow @Bradfordmfg on Twitter!