Business in the Community Ireland knows that a key area of CSR is how employees are valued and how a company impacts society and the communities in which they operate. Talent can go anywhere in the world but people want to live in strong communities where fairness and equal opportunities are part of the fabric of society. People want to work in a society where access to education and inclusive employment opportunities are available to all.
Therefore, as part of our membership streams, we offer access to our internationally renowned education and employment programmes (Businesses Action Programmes).
We chose these two issues to focus on as we know companies in Ireland can make significant inroads into tackling key issues in education such as literacy and pipeline of talent or unemployment of marginalised people.
The business benefits of our initiatives have proven to be effective and impactful employee engagement and the opportunity to help build trust and reputation with local stakeholders.
Ireland has a good reputation for educational standards. However, for more challenged socio-economic groups, education gaps can appear. Literacy rates in many primary schools are a challenge. The retention rate in post primary schools is improving but still a high percentage of students leave school before the leaving certificate. In addition, our principals and teachers are under pressure with increasing demands on resources.
Businesses can have a significant impact on all of these issues whilst also improving the future pipeline of talent, engaging staff on worthwhile initiatives and improving reputation with local communities.
Our nationwide suite of programmes matching schools with businesses provides a win-win solution. Many of our member companies utilise our education programmes as ‘off the shelf’ volunteering opportunities for employees. In addition, through our experience of working with hundreds of schools in Ireland and thousands of pupils, we can work with a member company on bespoke educational CSR programmes with major impact.
Visit Business Action on Education for more information.
Despite the recent headlines about lower unemployment rates, the long term unemployed are still a group struggling with access to job opportunities. This is doubly true for people who experience high barriers to employment such as new immigrants to the country or people suffering mental health or addiction issues.
We decided to particularly focus on people with high barriers as quite simply, they need the most help; We also know that businesses are uniquely well placed to help these groups and can have long lasting impacts on peoples’ lives. Our employment programmes help people from a variety of backgrounds find jobs or training. We know when it comes to marginalised people that unemployment can reinforce the feeling of isolation and low confidence. Accessing work experience, doing mock interviews, receiving training and support can all improve confidence and the chance of re-entering employment.
When it comes to working with immigrants, 12% of the Irish population is now made up of people who were not born in Ireland. If Ireland does not work to integrate immigrants into society, we will face increasing social problems similar to those in other European countries where second and even third generation immigrants are still seen as separate.
A key factor in promoting integration is finding employment as it’s often where social circles are formed and relationships developed. However, research has proven that it is much harder to find employment in Ireland if you are an immigrant and the unemployment rate is significantly higher for the immigrant population.
Companies in Ireland can make a strong contribution in the integration of marginalised people in Ireland by providing employment opportunities. This can range from providing work experience to offering job placements or mock interview workshops. Engaging with the programmes also provides employees with a sense of duty and responsibility to society as a whole.
Visit Business Action on Employment for more information.