My Column

Shaf Rasul: Corporate social responsibility is alive and well in Scotland

  • Date: Monday 24th October 2016
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I spend a lot of time in this column talking about the cut and thrust fortunes of Scottish enterprise.

I’ll discuss profit, loss, who’s buying, who’s selling — but rarely do I talk about how businesses give back to the communities in which they work.

Naturally, many don’t shout about the good that they do behind the scenes, but corporate social responsibility is alive and well in Scotland.

It’s easy to accuse big businesses of wanting to soften their image in the public eye — but then, equally, it’s difficult to be cynical about the good they do when they really don’t have to do anything at all.

Only recently, I attended the Edinburgh Grace Banquet, an annual charity event organised by multi award-winning legal practice Gilson Gray, raising funds for some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged and seriously ill children.

This year, Grace supported the work of Children’s Aid and The Teapot Trust, and the evening is thought to have raised over £50,000 — a fantastic total that will surely help to change many lives for the better.

Not to be outdone, chartered surveyors Graham+Sibbald held a superb ‘Rio Lunch’ last month to announce the latest addition to its amazing Rising Star programme that supports up-and-coming sporting talent.

Those in attendance were told of the achievements of previous Rising Stars Craig Benson, right, and Callum Skinner, as well as new addition Scott Meenagh.

Swimmer Craig reached the semi-finals of the 200m breaststroke at the Rio Olympics, while cyclist Callum won gold in the men’s Team Sprint.

Not all of the Rising Stars have followed traditional routes into the programme — and Scott Meenagh is a wonderful example of what makes it so special. In 2011, he was serving in Afghanistan when he stepped on an explosive device and lost both legs.

Inspired by sport and driven by the memory of lost colleagues, Scott was invited to train full-time with GB Rowing in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

He has since appeared at two Invictus Games and has now re-focused on cross country skiing. Graham+Sibbald has taken real pride in helping these athletes achieve their dreams, and I was only too happy to play a small role in supporting those efforts.

At the Rio Lunch, I got the opportunity to bid on a signed shirt worn by Callum in Rio, right, which I then donated to Social Bite. It will now be auctioned at the Scottish Business Awards in November — where I will be judging several categories — raising much-needed cash for the homeless, so please get bidding if you can.

A sandwich shop with a big difference, Edinburgh-based Social Bite has been an incredible success story thanks to its simple model of offering good food for a good cause.

With 100 per cent of profits going to charity, it’s an example of what big achievements can be made with just a little imagination.

The people behind Social Bite have now gone further by opening their brilliant HOME restaurant, which uniquely offers a higher end but affordable dining experience with a homeless-only serving period of 3-5pm on Mondays. They’ve also become involved in Brewgooder, a social beer label with BrewDog where all profits are used for clean water projects in the developing world.

It’s no coincidence that George Clooney lent his support to Social Bite by visiting one outlet following an appearance at the Scottish Business Awards last year, while Leonardo DiCaprio is expected to do the same next month.

Talking of the Awards, I was pleased to see Livingston-based Esh Border Construction shortlisted in the Corporate Social Responsibility category for its award-winning Building My Skills initiative.

This is helping to prepare Scottish youngsters for the world of work through a dedicated programme of learning.

Like Social Bite, Esh has been able to belie its relatively small size thanks to the engagement of big partners like Tesco, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Travis Perkins.

It all goes to show that giving back really does work as part of a sustainable, socially-conscious business community.

Read the rest of the column Here


Related Content Video: Would You Bid £6500 at the Social Bite Charity Auction?

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