COVID-19 is the largest risk to the charity sector in living memory, a point where corporations are naturally concerned with their own survival rather than their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.
It’s clear that responsible organisations committed to positive action need to be more visible than ever in fulfilling our duty to support the cause of those charities and parts of society that need us most.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is central to our vision at urban. We’re an architectural recruitment business first and foremost but with two core values instrumental in all we do. #BeMoreGreen, reflecting our passion for sustainability and #BeMoreInclusive, also the name of our recruitment partnership with leading diversity and inclusivity charity Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT). SLCT works with young people from disadvantaged and under-represented ethnic groups to develop the skills and network for a career in architecture. This synergy of goals sees us work with them to help fundraise but, most importantly, help make a career in architecture accessible to all people, whatever their background.
Off the back of the annual National Stephen Lawrence Day and the London Marathon, May is traditionally a time of significant interest and valuable revenue for the Charitable Trust. This year, with the marathon postponed and us all working from home, key budgeted revenue has not been forthcoming.
COVID-19 is hitting us all hard, but early evidence suggests that death-rates of people from BAME backgrounds are disproportionally high. In addition, it’s clear that COVID-19 could lead to the deepest recession in history, potentially leading to high unemployment, a drop in recruitment and less opportunities than ever for young people to achieve their career goals.
At urban, we’re working closely with our architectural clients to encourage them to keep offering opportunities to young people, to look to the future and harness the valuable skillsets of all communities, not just for the gain of the individuals but their own businesses. Typically, a diverse business is a higher-performing business.
In adversity lies opportunity, and this is our opportunity to do what is right. It would be the easiest time to abandon our principles, treating them as a ‘nice to have, non-essential’, but as business leaders we will be remembered for the actions we take now. We will be judged by our employees, critiqued by our clients and assessed by prospective new hires by what we do now more than ever. Let’s make sure we invest the time into offering our support for the charity sector, forging stronger relationships for the future. Right now, time is something most of us have in abundance; the UK has millions of employees furloughed, so it’s a chance to do all we can. We can offer more than just money to charities and communities, we can offer our time and unique skillsets to add value to those who need it.
CSR can engage our people, imbuing them with a sense of purpose and value. It builds true team dynamics and gives us something to be proud of. That is why, post-COVID-19, we won’t be stepping back from our commitment but instead investing more time and effort than ever before to continue developing a partnership of value to Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. I encourage you to join us.
Mark Nagle. Operations Director – urban