Doing good work

Henna Butt

Net Impact’s recent survey on work preferences amongst professionals and students confirms a burgeoning trend in the labour market. More than 50% of professionals surveyed want their work to have a degree of positive social impact, rising to 70% amongst students.

Having joined the Shaftesbury Partnership this month as an On Purpose Associate, the statistics ring familiar. On Purpose is a leadership scheme that helps professionals transition into careers in social enterprise. In the autumn we’ll welcome a fourth cohort of associates looking to make this move, demonstrating how social impact jobs are benefitting from the “Brain Gain” that Will discussed in his blog post.

Demand for jobs in this growing space is high, as the Economist has noted, in fact the Net Impact report shows that 45% of students would take a pay cut in order to work in a role that aligned with their values.

As I’ve researched CSR trends amongst the FTSE 100 over the last week I’ve found that this priority hasn’t gone unnoticed by the biggest firms seeking to increase productivity and employee retention by incorporating opportunities to “do good” into their corporate responsibility initiatives.

The link between satisfaction in the workplace and performance and retention has been well documented. Of the sample surveyed in the Net Impact study, those that can make a positive social impact in the workplace reported greater satisfaction than those who cannot by a 2:1 ratio.

Whilst professionals in the private sector seek work with more social impact, on the other side of the coin, the skills of these professionals can add a great deal of value to social enterprises seeking to grow. At SP we think this ‘cross-pollination’ is invaluable so we seek to collaborate with corporate partners to bring talent onto our ventures through secondments.

Similarly, through our venture, the Social Business Partnership (SBP) we hope to build more robust and sustained relationships between the private and social sectors by bringing social enterprises into the supply chains of corporates.

In this way corporates can support social enterprises to deliver social impact and at the same time help them to build the standards required for them to scale and service bigger clients. For example, a branding professional could go in for a day and help devise a strategy for the social enterprise. Concomitantly, big businesses benefit from a more engaged workforce that can experience a sustained social impact.

Where corporate social responsibility may have been perceived as an ‘add-on’ to normal business I’m confident that the demand amongst workers will see social impact become more a part of business as usual, generating impact amongst internal and external stakeholders.

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