“Is teaming up with a social enterprise right for my business?”
Why social enterprise and why now?
In the current economic climate, it seems as though its time has finally come. We are seeing a generational shift in attitudes towards corporate social responsibility. After all, how does the average twenty-something graduate want to spend their time at work? Most are opting to do some good as well as earn money.
So corporations are changing their attitude to CSR to adapt. People want to use their own skills to work with social businesses, which is where they feel they can add real, lasting value.
We’ve certainly found that when working with a social enterprise is used as part of a coaching programme, you can create a powerful experience for the client business and the company they work with.
Why are you considering social enterprise?
What are you trying to develop in your people? What skills or behaviours are you trying to bring out with this programme? It might be improving their strategic thinking or the speed of their decision-making. You should also think about your existing approach to CSR. What sectors do you already work in or want to support? Your answers to these questions should determine the kind of business you look to work with.
Where do you want to work?
We recommend you work with an organisation based near your business. Typically our SE modules are over two days, so location is a key consideration. Teams will spend one day based in the social enterprise and one day with its people coming to them. Crucially, a local link also means there is often greater buy-in from the team.
What kind of social enterprise do you want to work with?
All these questions help to identify the outcomes you want for your business and the type of partner you need. We would then put together a shortlist of companies which are facing real challenges but can spare the time and energy to get the most out of the skilled resource they will have access to.
Are your people ready?
Once you’ve identified the right social enterprise partner for your business, you need to make sure that the team is up to speed.
We always give each team pre-work so that they can get the most out of the experience by being up to speed on the business challenges they will face.
The people on this course are often future business leaders who will end up ‘parachuted’ into challenges within their organisation. So we know they have the skills to unpick the business challenge. But we need to make sure they have the right context too.
How much do you want to learn?
We strongly believe that the best results are achieved through our clients working with a social enterprise as genuine partners. It can be genuinely transformative for both of you.
In our experience, the project team get a first-hand look at what can be (to them) a completely new way of working. They learn about real belief and passion, what ‘values’ really mean away from the office and how you can connect your day-to-day role with the vision and purpose of the organisation.
Social enterprises also tend to work with a non-hierarchical leadership style where you get things done through influence rather than hierarchy, as can be customary in large corporate organisations.
How good are your people at reaching out?
We help put teams in touch with people who can help with the prep work. They will need to build a network very quickly. Who do they know who can help them with this? Who have they worked with before? This is where we find out how well connected a team of people is – or isn’t.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. The potential rewards of this kind of programme are huge – but the better prepared you are going in, the better the outcomes.
To talk to us more about any of this, get in touch here.