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“ We are fortunate here in Jersey. We are host to a number of large businesses which take their

corporate responsibility seriously

By IAN GORST Chief Minister of the States of Jersey

The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility

and the Third Sector to Jersey’s future.

We are living through a critical time for the world economy and for Jersey. The integrity of the European single currency union is under threat; economic growth forecasts have been downgraded; the UK is rebalancing its economy and many jurisdictions are dealing with a legacy of debt. Financial leaders say this is “the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen since the 1930s”.

As our small island faces these unprecedented challenges, we need to harness the potential of every sector of our community. We need to foster a cohesive society that builds on Jersey’s unique community spirit; a society where all Islanders take responsibility for themselves, where each of us has the opportunity to succeed, where hard work is rewarded and help is available for those who need it.

Jersey has a proud tradition of honorary service, not only in our long-standing parish system, but also in the dedication of the many people who volunteer for organisations like Meals on Wheels, the Good Companions and the Samaritans.

There are at least 280 such organisations in Jersey, with 30% of islanders undertaking some voluntary work, a figure that is especially impressive when you take into account our

population’s high rate of participation in the workforce.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a long established way for companies to contribute to the society in which they operate. Companies which are serious about CSR share responsibility for the environment with governments and citizens. They can see the benefits of involving employees in the community; they know it can help their staff grow in understanding and they can see that a firm which is recognised in the community is better able to attract good staff.

We are fortunate here in Jersey. We are host to a number of large businesses which take their corporate responsibility seriously. Many companies contribute generously to a range of not-for- profit organisations which are run by trained professionals and committed volunteers working together, away from the media spotlight, for the benefit of the most vulnerable in our society. These organisations benefit from the targeted support of local businesses and it is the job of government to foster this relationship.

As we modernise the public sector there may be more Third Sector providers tendering to deliver services funded by the States. With robust Service Level Agreements in place, there may

be organisations other than the States which are better placed to deliver some services to the public. It is not just about cost cutting, but about putting the right people in the right place to improve life for Islanders.

The Association of Jersey Charities is intending to recruit a full time Third Sector Coordinator, funded by the States, to help organisations develop the specialist skills they need in areas such as fundraising, volunteer management, campaigning, PR and financial management. The Coordinator will support the Third Sector to develop a shared voice, helping it work effectively in partnership with government and the private sector. Just as we are doing in the public sector, continuous improvement is needed across all organisations and better coordination between statutory and Third Sector agencies could reduce duplication of effort.

We are fortunate that the concept of voluntary and honorary service is embedded in the traditions and culture of our island. We are committed to maximising the efforts of every member of staff and volunteer within the third sector by putting in place the right support and by working with commercial partners to embed social responsibility into the DNA of

every individual and organisation in the island.

While the challenges we face are serious, we can see around us the consequences for those governments that took the easy option of spending reserves or borrowing to fund expenditure. We have taken a responsible path and now, with every challenge comes opportunity.

For me, politics is about public service in the interest of all Islanders and I am pleased to see this attitude reflected in the companies which contribute positively to life in Jersey. While companies do their bit so we must do ours. We must maintain our drive to modernise the public sector and to sustain sound public finances.

There is much that we can achieve if we stimulate the abilities, talents and creative innovation of Islanders. Ultimately it is businesses and entrepreneurs that deliver economic growth, tax revenues and jobs. It is our job in government to create the right environment for new businesses to start, grow, thrive and succeed.

Jersey is very much open for business and I hope local firms maintain their symbiotic relationships with Third Sector organisations, to the ongoing benefit of all Islanders.

CSR - Helping others Page 7

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