Cynics argue that CSR is an exercise in self-congratulation, enabling privileged City workers the opportunity to feel good about themselves in exchange for a couple of hours out of the office. That’s not an entirely incorrect interpretation but the impact of CSR goes way beyond a pat on the back and a warm feeling of satisfaction.

The commercial advantage is not in question. Enabling staff to invest time supporting charitable partners creates opportunities for teams to get to know one another and work together off-project, as well as contributing to a strong employer brand which improves recruitment and retention. The benefits amplify when partnering with clients to deliver initiatives. 

But where the magic really happens is in the time spent with those charities, many of which simply could not provide the breadth of services they do without volunteers. Each person who gives up a just small amount of their time to pick up litter along the Thames foreshore, serve breakfast at a day centre for those experiencing homelessness, or mentor a-level students has a cumulative impact and while a few hours every few months might not seem like much, taken as a whole it represents a significant resource for charities at a time when demand is high and budgets are low. Even cynics can’t deny that’s a good thing.

Taking time out of the working day to flex some different skills provides a welcome mental break from work, and learning more about issues that aren’t necessarily front of mind when we’re busy hopefully makes us more empathetic as individuals and aware of the positive impact we can each make. Taking that mindset into our day to day lives means we can proactively look for ways to make a difference and find ways to encourage others. Let's not forget the R in CSR.

FRP’s London office has long supported a variety of charitable initiatives but we began our formal CSR programme earlier this year following internal consultation to identify the causes our people most care about. We selected homelessness, the environment, and social mobility as the key areas of focus and found great partners in Thames 21, The Connection at St Martins and Career Ready. We're fortunate enough to have clients join us on our journey, who have made those activities even more enjoyable.

For CSR to be sustainable within an organisation it needs to be authentic and we hope that in working with staff to understand what matters to them, and partnering with charities who provide practical volunteering opportunities that allow us to collaborate with clients, we are leaning into our values as a business. All of that said we get more out of CSR than we give.

So on a final note, whilst all three charities would be grateful for a donation at any time of year, a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol has been issued in London and so The Connection at St Martins would be especially grateful of any contribution right now, large or small.