Business Leaders Debate: Responsible business and the impact of volunteering - report

40 delegates attended the second in a series of Responsible Leadership Debates at Langstone Technology Park, to explore the role of responsible leadership in driving a company’s business strategy.

I believe ‘if you can, you should’ and encourage every business here and in the wider community to get involved and make a positive difference.

- Gary Medlow,
Managing Director, Fasset
During the event, Gary Medlow, Managing Director at Fasset, shared the role and vision that Langstone Technology Park has in driving the responsible business agenda in Havant. Guest speakers from Carillion and Music Fusion provided inspiring stories as to the various ways employees can engage with local schools and the voluntary sector. A lively debate closed the event, providing an insight to the variety of expertise and best practice amongst the local business community.

Melanie Parker Corporate Adviser at BITC opened the session by providing an insight into some of the challenges facing business and society. From training and developing their future workforce to reducing their environmental impact, businesses can play a vital role in building more resilient communities. Melanie invited companies to engage more widely with their local communities, and encouraged them to address their own responsible business practices and strategy. She asked them to encourage employee volunteering within their own organisations and to sign up to deliver the ’asks’ put forward on the day by the five local charities.

As a major hub of employment in Havant and South East Hampshire Langstone Technology Park  plays a vital role in enhancing the economic and social profile of the borough. Gary Medlow, MD of Fasset, the company which manages the business park, informed guests about the initiatives created and work undertaken to develop a sustainable workplace for tenants, employees and the local community.

Employees at Fasset have also supported a number of local initiatives including the national Sport Relief campaign (in conjunction with SSE), taking part in activities through the local Education Business Partnership and various fundraising initiatives. Summarising Fasset’s approach, Gary concluded: "I believe ‘if you can, you should’ and encourage every business here and in the wider community to get involved and make a positive difference."

The Borough of Havant faces a number of significant issues particular in relation to education and employment. Jinx Prowse, CEO of Music Fusion, a local charity which works with young people, provided an insight as to how businesses can support local voluntary sector groups and schools through sharing their skills and resources.  Jinx told delegates how £26,500 of investment has been provided by businesses across Havant through donating employee time.

Jason Dowling, Facilities Manager at Carillion, which provides services at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, then followed by providing an insight to Carillion’s Award winning employee volunteering programme. Jason described some of the projects that staff have supported and discussed the benefits that this delivers to the business. 

The session ended with debate amongst guests about how their businesses can best share their skills and resources.

Key lessons from this session:

  • Collaborative partnerships between businesses to support community organisations can deliver vast benefits to all involved however the culture and values of the organisations need to be similar.

  • Many organsiations face challenges in securing staff sign up to an employee volunteering programme. Identifying champions within the business who already volunteer can help to overcome this.

  • Different sectors use difference forms and styles of communication. This can be a challenge in developing a partnership but should also be viewed as an opportunity to learn new ideas.

  • Personal development, team building and reduced absenteeism were identified as core business benefits of employee volunteering programmes.

  • Think outside of the box when assessing what support your business or individuals could offer.

  • Employee involvement is highly rewarding and enriching for all and greatly enhanced brand reputation.

  • Education is absolutely key to motivating and supporting the community.

View photos and presentations from the event on the Langstone Technology Park website.

Discover more about the business benefits of employee volunteering and the programmes that BITC offers.  

See the report about the first Business leaders debate: Health and wellbeing.