Business leaders visit Coventry as part of BITC’s flagship Seeing is Believing programme

Business leaders visit Coventry as part of BITC’s flagship Seeing is Believing programme

Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today, under the leadership of Zahra Bahrololoumi CBE, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive of Salesforce UK & Ireland, brought C-suite business leaders to Coventry to understand the issues faced by those who are most severely affected by the rising cost of living, including those who are actively looking for work. The visit, part of BITC’s flagship Seeing is Believing programme, supported by Salesforce, helps business leaders understand the role they play in addressing societal issues while also reaping the benefits of doing so.   

The visit comes as BITC research, in partnership with YouGov, found that one in 10 people in the West Midlands said they will need to rely on community supports, such as food banks, due to the rising cost of living.[2] Coventry, in particular, has the fourth highest level of fuel poverty in England,[3] and the unemployment rate (4.8%) is far higher than the UK average of 3.6%.[4] Further, three in 10 people living in Coventry were born outside the UK, highlighting the need for businesses to break down recruitment barriers to enable people from all backgrounds to find good work.[5]  

Last year, with the support of Salesforce, business leaders visited Foleshill Community Centre to understand the challenges community organisations face when trying to support local communities. Since then, Salesforce has provided expert advice, technology support, and volunteering time to help the centre simplify and automate activities to drive greater efficiency and scale. It has also supplied matched funding, alongside other businesses, so the centre can build necessary extensions and improve kitchen facilities. 

Supporting people in Coventry  

BITC’s Seeing is Believing programme has engaged over 100 small business owners in Coventry and provided support through focus groups and networking events, helped the Coventry Food Network grow its capacity to deliver emergency food for local residents, increased volunteer ‘reading buddies’ across five primary schools in one of the most deprived parts of the city, and funded books for every school child to take home in areas such as Foleshill and Longford. 

Business leaders returned to Foleshill Community Centre today to learn about the impact and importance of business partnerships in supporting organisations that are under increasing pressure to support people who are struggling to make ends meet. 

With two out of 10 16 – 24-year-olds unemployed in Coventry, compared to the UK national average, which is one in 10,[6] business leaders met with young people at Grace Academy Coventry to hear first-hand the barriers they face in trying to find good work. Business leaders also met with jobseekers in St Francis Employability to hear about the barriers and support needed to access employment and opportunities in Coventry. The visit gave business leaders the opportunity to hear first-hand from people about their experiences of trying to secure employment, and how employers can better support them. 

The visit was attended by C-suite business leaders from a range of companies, including Salesforce UK & Ireland, OVO Energy, Worldline, Coventry Building Society, DHL, Capita, PwC, and more. 

The Seeing is Believing programme, one of the most prestigious immersive experiences available for C-suite leaders, helps drive BITC’s Place programme, facilitating cross-sector collaboration to deliver long-term and transformational impact in places across the UK. The programme would not be possible without the support of Salesforce.   

Zahra Bahrololoumi CBE, EVP & CEO of Salesforce UK & Ireland, said:  

“Seeing is Believing uniquely connects business leaders directly to communities to better understand the challenges of education, employment, skilling, and social mobility that local urban communities face today. I’m proud that Salesforce sponsors such an important initiative and to be leading another visit to Coventry. The programme is much more than just seeing and listening. Crucially, it is about the decisive action businesses can take to help address societal challenges. By working together, we can achieve great things in Coventry.”  

Mary Macleod, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said:   

“BITC is committed to transforming lives and helping communities thrive through business action. Our Seeing is Believing visits give business leaders the opportunity to come together to learn about the issues communities are facing and take action. I look forward to working with business leaders to build on the incredible work already being done in Coventry through local business action and under Salesforce’s national leadership.” 

The Seeing is Believing programme was established by the then Prince of Wales in 1990. The programme, supported by Salesforce, was born from a simple but powerful belief that the best way to close the gap between the boardroom and the community was to take business leaders out to the communities and, through the power of experiential learning, to inspire and challenge participants. The visits are designed to encourage business leaders to think strategically about the implications for their own businesses and the practical actions that can be taken in response, leading to meaningful and sustained impact for both businesses and communities. To date, over 25,000 business leaders have taken part in the Seeing is Believing programme which has led to various initiatives being set up, including Career Ready, Ban the Box, and mentoring circles in collaboration with the Department for Work and Pensions.  


Notes to editor  

  1. Photos of the visit are available upon request.  
  2. BITC research conducted in partnership with YouGov 2022. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,019 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th – 7th October 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). 
  3. Department for Energy Security and Net Zero Fuel poverty supplementary tables 2023 (2021 data): Fuel poverty supplementary tables 2023 (2021 data) – GOV.UK ( 
  4. These figures come from the Annual Population Survey 2023. A spreadsheet with the full figures is available upon request. 
  5. Census 2021 data
  6. These figures come from the Annual Population Survey 2023. A spreadsheet with the full figures is available upon request. 
  7. Find out more about Foleshill Community Centre here. Since March 2020, Foleshill Community Centre has distributed 5,000 bags of shopping to families in Coventry. 
  8. Find out more about Grace Academy Coventry here
  9. Find out more about St Francis Employability here

For further information, please contact Polly Dacam, Press Officer, on 07713 101878.