Birmingham, UK – The City Where Good Business Means Doing Good?

What do businesses need to understand, in order to create a successful cross sector, integrated and strategic CSR programme for a whole city?

This is a question that I was pondered whilst sitting in the audience, at a recent ‘CSR City’ event held at Pinsent Masons, Birmingham. A number of city organisations were also presented with their certificates, as new signatories of the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility.


With a number of business leaders from a number of Professional Service sector firms in attendance, the event, at times, became a self-congratulatory stage promoting individual projects and activities, but it WAS great to hear about some of the good work that is being done and the impact it is creating for others in the community.

I was also pleased to hear the agreement in the room that the business sector (professional services was the focus at this event) have a clear responsibility to use their resources and capacity to do more for society and that our local authority, is willing to put resources behind a strategic city-wide response to meeting our cities social needs.

But if I’m honest and based on my experience, I think there is a storm ahead..passion, a ‘feel good’ factor, pats on the back and great speeches is one thing..but what do the numbers on social impact at board level, say?

Let’s look at some key factors that the business leaders in attendance DID NOT KNOW:

Now, you may be thinking “this is all global level activity, so how does this have a local impact?”

Fair question, but this is about understand the factors of the ecosystem that businesses are a part of and the future impacts to come, even if they don’t know it yet.  Let me focus on one key factor: Money.

CSR / Social Impact / Citizenship / Social Responsibility or whatever term you may wish to use, is often regarded as something you should not connect to the notion of making money or profit. It’s taboo, it’s not moral, it’s not the done thing…personally, I believe therein lies the problem.

I believe that if businesses both view and integrate social impact as a strategic investment tool of growth for the business, then I believe real sustainable change will take place in society and within communities.

Here are my reasons why:

  • If a business invests money into ANY business activity, it must measure the return on that investment, to ensure the best amount of value is being achieved. CSR / Social impact is no different.
  • If social investment is measured in hard business numbers and the results are positive, then this will give confidence to key decision-makers within the business, to INVEST EVEN MORE into communities.
  • Financial metric analysis forces key decision-makers to strategically review CSR strategies, methods of measurement and stakeholder relationships focused on sustainable business growth, and more importantly, sustainable impact that must be achieved in order for ALL of society to achieve!

This is why we have already launched the Birmingham SV100, a new league table that will rank the Top 100 Birmingham companies from across all sectors, based upon their Social Earnings Ratio (SER).

This process has already started, and we are inviting companies to contact us to learn how they can get their own Social Earnings Ratio Score, for inclusion onto the Birmingham SV100.

Simply put, for every pound spent by a business on CSR, we measure much money their social impact adds to their company bottom-line. We also measure social impact as a percentage of the companies overall net worth and a few more bits and bobs..

I am determined to help businesses embrace social impact more strategically, so that together, we make Birmingham the ‘CSR City’ of Europe, a place where good business means doing good – hmm, that has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?


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