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UK businesses accused of lacking a social conscience

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At the House of Lords recently, Directory of Social Change (DSC) Chief Executive Debra Allcock Tyler will offer a passionate critique of the abject failure of the business community to take responsibility for vital social needs and causes.

Debra will speak at the launch of DSC’s first Company Giving Almanac, which analyses a sample of over 400 companies with community support and CSR programmes that benefit UK charitable causes. The report provides the most comprehensive picture of company giving in the UK to date. The companies analysed in the Almanac provide the vast majority of all giving by business to UK charities. Of these companies, total contributions as a proportion of company pre-tax profits stand at a mere 0.4 percent overall (including ‘in-kind’ contributions) with cash at 0.3 percent – well below the 1 percent standard historically advocated by many as a benchmark. Some companies clearly lead the way in terms of their generosity, but these are by far the exception rather than the rule. For example, in terms of their donations as a percentage of pre-tax profits HESCO Bastion Ltd (45 percent) and Richer Sounds (19 percent) stand out.

These findings come at a time when the reputation of many leading companies and business generally has been tarnished by the financial crisis and subsequent scandals, and when Government policy is aiming to build stronger relationships between charities and company supporters and to boost philanthropy. Debra will say to delegates at the launch: ‘I surely can’t be the only person who feels truly horrified by the evidence in this report of the paucity of company giving in Britain. Yes there are some who give, give generously and give well. But what is comprehensively demonstrated in the Almanac is that the vast majority of our companies in the UK have a great deal to be ashamed about.

Many say to me that attacking companies for their bad giving is counter-productive – that the way to get companies to give is to convince them of the business case for their giving. Well, all I can say to that is that message has been the one we’ve been working to in this country for over 30 years – and company giving has not increased or improved – it has got worse. Well, that ends today. Today we tell the truth. Today we say: It is not OK that so few companies give, that they give so little and they give so badly. It is not OK that companies report giving by their staff and customers as if it was their own – or wildly exaggerate their own contributions. It is not OK for companies to act as if they are somehow separate from our Society and that different rules apply to them. And the environment right now is absolutely perfect for this message. The great British Public is fed up. It’s fed up of the lack of moral leadership that has been exhibited and exposed by our political leaders, our media leaders and our business leaders. It’s time for a change. We need companies to give more, we need more companies to give, and we need them to be better givers.’

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