Building Sustainable Futures – how CSR is becoming CSV

Simone Hindmarch-Bye is the co-founder of Commercial Group, and the brains/heart behind their CSR policies and achievements. Simone described the moment she was inspired to take action – after watching the 2005 film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (one of my favourite films ever!). In her keynote speech at Commercial Group’s Annual CSR Day (see my first blog on this), Simone talked about what Commercial are currently doing for their corporate social responsibility and introduced the amazing We Do. Print (I’ll explain this more below!).

Sustainable Stationery

Commercial Group are a UK stationery supplier and at first glance would appear to be no different to any other supplier – but when you delve further into the company you’ll be amazed at how sustainable, and quite frankly brilliant, they are. Commercial’s CSR policies are all based around their 10 Commitments – Be Carbon Positive, Report Openly, Reduce Carbon Significantly, Eliminate Waste, Help Customers Reduce Their Footprint,Create a Sustainable Supply Chain, Help Our Local Communities, Care For Those Less Fortunate, Look After One Another and Influence The Big Picture.

They achieve these commitments in a variety of ways; from having the world’s biggest hydrogen vehicle fleet (perhaps 2nd largest, NASA may win!) to selling responsibly sourced FSC commissioned paper products. One of their key achievements (in my opinion) is being the first zero-waste company in their sector.

Sustainable Futures

Simone used this year’s CSR Day to introduce the Commercial Foundations We Do. scheme – We Do. Print, We Do. Leadership and We Do. Innovation. We Do. is all about supporting the wider community, particularly young people, and helping to create brighter futures. This moving video introduced We Do. Print – a business set up within Commercial Group that has been developed, designed, branded and run by their first cohort of young people.

We Do. Print takes unemployed young people and gives them skills for their CVs – skills to make them employable. I was honoured to meet the young people behind We Do. Print at the CSR Day, and hear their inspirational stories. The support and guidance of Commercial, and the opportunities they had been given, had transformed them into happier, more confident people who are determined to go on and achieve greatness. Commercial are investing not just money, but time and care into people to help provide them with brighter futures.

Responsibility for People, not just the Planet

This idea of investing time into people and not just the environment really touched a nerve with me. Yes, it is important that we protect the environment and do all we can to be sustainable in that sense, but it is also important to protect people and their futures – building a sustainable society. Many organisations’ CSR policies will briefly touch on this – they may protect their suppliers, or only buy FairTrade products, but not many actively invest time and money into individuals.

Commercial Group seem to be at the forefront of this; they’ve recognised that our responsibility to future generations is beyond just leaving them a resourceful, healthy planet. We are responsible for building a group of people, a society, that can achieve and strive for years to come. So many brilliant young people slip through the nets and never reach their potential – now is the time to change that and provide people with the chance to shine.

Are you 18-24 and want an opportunity in the sustainability sector? Do you know someone who is? The organisation I work at, Global Action Plan, is providing free training for 30 young people this year – with interviews, job opportunities, mentoring and networking at the end. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to get experience working in the sustainability sector, and a chance to work with me! For more information visit http://www.globalactionplan.org.uk/catalyst-programme or contact me!

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