Though his official title is that of the group corporate responsibility manager for Ecclesiastical, Chris Pitt (pictured above), noted that rather than corporate social responsibility, the phrase “responsible business” more accurately reflects what is required from organisations today. Corporate responsibility historically emphasised businesses offsetting or compensating for an area of their business that was not engaging socially. Now, these efforts have a much more integrated role within the business and focus on how it carries out its functions as well as how it supports its customers, its people and the wider community.
“I’m seeing a bit of a shift towards responsible business because it indicates how businesses are thinking more deeply and more broadly about doing the right thing,” he said. “And that’s not just giving, though that is an important part of it. And it’s not about making up for what you’ve done wrong. It’s about doing some new things right in the first place.”
The 2020 ‘Movement for Good’ awards from Ecclesiastical, which will see the insurer give away £1 million to charities in need this summer, demonstrates that charitable giving is at the heart of what the company has been doing for over 130 years. The awards are part of the business’s overall strategy to give more to charities and to be a leading corporate giver, Pitt said, and will bring the business closer to its goal of raising £100 million for charity by 2020.
An amazing 1,035 brokers voted for 572 charities across the UK and more than a quarter of a million members of the public have supported these Movement for Good awards, voting for a total of 13,695 charitable causes across the UK. Later this summer, a further 10 charities will also be chosen by a panel of judges to receive £50,000 from Ecclesiastical, and charities are invited to apply for this substantial grant from mid-June 2020.
A core strength of this Movement for Good campaign, has been its emphasis on a breadth and depth of giving which encompasses as many charities around the country as possible, Pitt said, and also on giving donations that will make a deep and lasting difference. The charitable sector, in particular, has been affected by the seismic shift that is the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the latest figures from the NCVO reveal that there may be a £4 billion shortfall across the charitable sector.
“Almost every charity relies on fundraising to some degree, so every charity is going to suffer,” he said. “And that’s why Movement for Good is particularly necessary at this time because it’s saying that every charity needs support, it doesn’t matter what kind of charity you are or what kind of work you’re doing, you will see your organisation affected. And I think that there are quite fundamental questions that many charities are facing at this time – what is our role within this crisis, how do we respond, and how will this change how we operate in the future?”
According to Pitt, corporates can support them financially in the short-term but they also need to start coming up with ways to do so in the medium and long-term as well. Providing long-term assistance is not as simple as just financial aid.
“There has been a huge flood of support from corporates, from financial services, and from the insurance sector in particular, which is really heartening and really encouraging and it makes you feel quite good about our sector,” he said, “and charities need that support now. But they will also need support in the coming months and the coming years as well. So there needs to be a sustained and sustainable approach to this.”
Data from Ecclesiastical’s Movement for Good awards has revealed that 93% of brokers say they are likely to donate to charity despite the current coronavirus uncertainty. Pitt believes that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown is likely making a lot of businesses question their purpose and the contribution that they make to their wider communities.
It’s a great step for these businesses to take – to question the critical nature of their work, he said, and how responsibly they carry out this work. Following the lockdown, companies will likely be more focused on making sure that they are sustainable, successful, profitable businesses capable of finding ever-new means of giving back to society.
“The real roots of insurance and financial services is protecting and supporting people when they need it most,” Pitt said. “The job that we do is fundamentally good. What we believe is that the industry also has a responsibility to give charitably and we believe corporates should give more.
“And we’re really pleased that there’s been a boost in giving during this period. But we also hope that this will be sustained, and that we’ll come out of this being closer to charities and communities and understanding their needs and how we can support them better. I think that would be a great outcome from this incredibly testing time.”