Legal & General: building small business skills in Wales
Legal & General is a top 20 global asset manager, and the UK’s largest provider of individual life assurance products. For almost 200 years, Legal & General has provided financial services to customers across the UK, and now the US. Its organisational purpose is to improve the lives of customers by building a better society for the long term, using its assets in an economically and socially useful way to benefit the communities it serves.
Global business, local support
As well as being a major global business, Legal & General has a strong commitment to local UK communities, undertaking research in local trends and capabilities, and offering support to help people and businesses grow. Its Cardiff offices house large customer service teams, as well as other functions like finance, marketing, and HR. From this base, Legal & General has long supported the work of Business in the Community (BITC) in Wales, since becoming a member of the network in 2007.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Legal & General has proactively supported communities in Wales through the National Business Response Network (NBRN). It has not only offered immediate support and donations to organisations tackling the effects of the pandemic – such as essential items for women survivors of domestic abuse through the charity Safer Wales – but also encouraged staff to use their skills and experience to support longer-term positive changes that can help Wales Build Back Responsibly.
Building small business skills in South Wales
Colleagues in South Wales have played a prominent role in piloting an SME (small- and medium- sized enterprise) support programme in Newport, South Wales. This programme developed following a local needs analysis and partnership building that took place through the NBRN. It recognised that many communities could benefit from resilience building activities and skills promotion to help local economies weather the impacts of COVID-19. Similar initiatives were trialled in Scotland (Aberdeen), and England (the Fylde Coast).
As well as supporting the promotion and effective management of a series of small business support webinars for local Newport businesses, Legal & General also enabled Business Continuity Manager, Rosie Beech to play a direct role in assisting local businesses. Rosie was able to offer tailored, one-to-one support sessions with small businesses. She provides a space where business owners can talk through their recovery ideas, and explore new approaches to their digital capabilities, business planning, and marketing.
“I have been able to give my time and expertise to a few local businesses, advising them about the benefits of operational resilience and business continuity management,” says Rosie, “giving them tips and techniques to mitigate against risks and issues that may prevent them running their normal business as usual activities to ensure that they can continue to survive against an unplanned event”. A key partner in Rosie’s work was Newport Credit Union, who helped to connect a wider range of small businesses to the support, and signposted to free resources hosted by Legal & General and BITC. “I am grateful that Legal & General have supported me to volunteer,” Rosie continues, “through BITC it has been possible to perfectly align my skills to volunteering in an area where I can make a positive difference.”
Helping businesses of all sizes and sectors to build back responsibly
With Legal & General’s support, the Small Business Support Pilot in Newport is now being evaluated in order to assess the most effective ways responsible businesses can help SMEs and their owners build the sort of essential skills that can help with a strong recover. As the Wales Leadership Board Lead on BITC’s Build Back Responsibly priorities, Lynne Sheehy, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Legal & General, is working closely with major employers to scope other effective support in Wales. “Now is the time for larger businesses to extend support to the thousands of diverse and dynamic SMEs, and the millions of people they employ,” says Lynne. “Though we have all faced some incredibly tough challenges over the past year, myself and my colleagues are incredibly motivated to share helpful skills, resources, and advice with communities in Wales, and think about ways we can collaborate further to make sure we are all able to Build Back Responsibly.”
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