How does your business affect the local and wider community?

By Louise Mulgrew | 11th August 2015 | 16 min read

Your business, however big or small, has an impact on the immediate and wider environment surrounding it and this should be something that you are always conscious of. And by environment, we don't necessarily mean "carbon emissions".

Running a business involves affecting the local area around your business in terms of many different factors, not necessarily just the grass, trees and ozone layer.

Let's take a small product packaging company as an example: Boxpacker International Ltd

Boxpacker International Ltd employ 25 staff of part-time and full-time workers. The packaging that they manufacturer needs large machines that process it which take a lot of electricity to run. In addition to this, they also have to pay for the import of the raw materials of the boxes and the labour costs. Then, when the boxes have been made, they need to be shipped and sent to the businesses that they supply which takes up transport time and costs including overseas shipping.

As well as this, Boxpacker International Ltd also create a lot of waste from the faulty and excess boxes that they create. Some of their boxes are made from special material that can not be recycled so must be sent to incinerators or landfill. These landfill and incinerators are the subject of local protests about the expansion of wasteland and the reduction of brown and green field sites for economic and housing development.

Boxpacker International Ltd also take on many apprentices each year as well as work experience for high school students and management graduate programmes.

From what may seem to be just a simple box making business, there are a lot of stakeholders that are affected by the activities of the company. From external suppliers, CO2 emissions from the factory and the environmental effects of landfill and incinerator waste, the business has a large impact than initially thought.

On top of this is the employees. Outside work, the employees of Boxpacker International Ltd are just regular people with lives. And while this is a made up business, these people do not live in a fairytale (for the purposes of this demonstration, anyway...). Unfortunately things go wrong and as valued members of Boxpacker International Ltd, the company should do what they can to keep their employees happy. After all, a happy workforce is a productive workforce.

At IRIS, we make sure to do what is necessary to address external stakeholders to the business. 

IRIS are a proud support of the British Heart Foundation and various activities are done throughout the businesses to raise money for this charity. IRIS allow each member of staff three "giving back days", on top of their annual leave and bank holiday allowance in order to take time out of their working life to run charitable activities. Recently, some of our employees from across the business took part in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge to raise money for charity. As a further incentive, anyone that does use their three "giving back days" is allowed their birthday as an extra holiday to say thank you for their commitment to a great cause.

Charity does start at home and one recent example of IRIS taking this into account was due to the recent devastating fire in a residential tower block in Wigan. Caught up within this unfortunate event was one of IRIS' employees; Chris Shepherd; who was left with little more than his car and the belongings he had on him that day. Employees within IRIS took it upon themselves to set up a JustGiving page to allow employees internally to donate some money to help getting them back on their feet and IRIS as a company also made a £500 donation. Chris explained that "IRIS and colleagues were brilliant and I don't think that I would have got to where I am now without everyone's support and kind words during it all."

Another internal initiative that has been undertaken by IRIS employees is the bonus ball syndicate where employees that play along pay an entry fee and are allocated a number. Each week when the national lottery is drawn, the person who has the same number as the bonus ball win the jackpot and £1 per entry fee is donated to a charity that helps put together "backpacks" for the homeless of Manchester. 

Company lead initiatives such as the "giving back days" and the choice of charity to support are among the things that provide a catalyst to employees taking part in their own charitable events. Creating a culture within a business that not only encourages recycling, waste-reduction and other environmentally friendly practices but also encourages employees to consider their own impact on other issues within the local and wider community is extremely important for any business.

You can keep up to date about any of our activities involving fundraising and charity events by keeping an eye on our blog for information and updates.