Staff, local schoolchildren and environmentalists all featured in filming at the Collyhurst works of Manchester surface coatings producer HMG Paints, by the Department of Trade & Industry. The film project is part of a government initiative aimed at promoting socially responsible business practices amongst small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), under the Corporate Social Responsibility umbrella, and HMG was chosen by the Department as a model firm.
Currently attracting some of the best business minds at national and global level, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is seen as a way of linking corporate growth and profitability to ethical values and respect for people, communities and the environment.
Last year, Dr Kim Howells, then Minister for CSR, identified engaging SMEs in this initiative as a priority. Since research indicates SMEs in the UK make a social contribution worth up to £3 billion every year, ten times that of large corporations, their involvement is obviously critical.
HMG Paints became involved when Marketing Manager, Alison Patterson, attended a Chamber of Commerce group discussion on CSR and outlined the firm's community and environmental initiatives. HMG was subsequently listed among a number of 'best practice' examples by Business In The Community, a network of over 650 UK-based organisations which views case studies as a useful means of reaching SMEs.
The DTI filmed three different case studies and eventually decided to focus on HMG Paints as the main feature, since it was impressed by the number of community-based projects the family-owned firm has instigated. Pupils from the local St Dunstan's primary school, who use the company's woodland as an outdoor classroom, were invited to appear in the film.
Kerry Welsh, Marketing Manager of Red Rose Forest, was then interviewed about HMG's extensive riverside tree planting programme, whilst Nicola Eagleton of Manchester City Pride Education Business Partnership spoke about the firm's work experience placements and business skills projects. Staff were also filmed working at the Collyhurst Road plant, which was once the setting for the classic TV thriller, 'Prime Suspect'.
"We were delighted to feature in the DTI film and hope our experience will encourage other smaller companies to embrace Corporate Social Responsibility," says board director, Stephen Falder. "Some SMEs are discouraged by the offputting title and worry about more form filling, but you don't have to develop a 'strategy' as such, you just have to foster good relationships with the local community and environment, by doing what you can."
"If anything, SMEs should find it easier, because they actually live and work in the community," adds Alison Patterson. "To do something worthwhile, it's not necessary to spend lots of money or devote too much time to projects. Every little helps to create relationships that benefit both the company and the community."
Since the film has been made, Alison Patterson has been invited to participate in a Business In The Community conference in London, which will centre on key issues for making environmental, community and social responsibility an integral part of SME business practice.
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