Shannon Chamber Encourages SMEs to Engage with Corporate Social Responsibility

 Shannon Chamber president Kevin Thompstone and chief executive Helen Downes (centre), join John Ruddle, Shannon Heritage, Aoife Nolan, Chambers Ireland, Karina Howley, KPMG and Neil Pakey, Shannon Group plc in encouraging more SMEs in the Shannon area to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Photo: Eamon Ward.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes have traditionally been considered the remit of large corporate entities but Shannon Chamber, in conjunction with Chambers Ireland, is setting out to convince a greater number of SMEs to also consider introducing CSR programmes in their companies.

Speaking at a CSR workshop in Bunratty Folk Park last week, which was sponsored by Shannon Heritage, Shannon Chamber’s chief executive Helen Downes said: “Many companies, through involvement in local projects and giving back to their communities, are already implementing CSR without labelling it as such. What we want to do now is formalise the process by encouraging more chamber member companies to enter Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards and put Shannon on the map as a location where businesses are really making a difference in  their communities.

Attendees at the seminar heard from a number of CSR practitioners: Shannon Chamber president Kevin Thompstone who is involved in the Venue Shannon project, now at planning stage and which has been assisted thus far by a number of corporate entities in Shannon, who, in doing  so have displayed their commitment to CSR; Karina Howley, head of CSR with KPMG, who outlined the many ways in which the company is involved in CSR and why it is important to KPMG; Lorcan Hassett from  GE Sensing, who spoke about the company’s involvement with Junior Achievement, the Haven project and the Hurley Hoey 10km run walk which takes place simultaneously in Doora, Co Clare, Battersea Park, London, and Centennial Park, Sydney on 7 March; and Neil Pakey, chief executive, Shannon Group plc who spoke of the many initiatives the airport has undertaken during the past year as part of its CSR programme. Particular mention was given to the Runway Run at the airport, which raised €15,000 for the Samaritans in 2014. Plans are well underway for the 2015 run, which will have a lot of new features and cater for an even greater number than the 1,200 runners who participated last year.

As Helen Downes explains: “The presenters clearly outlined why companies and SMEs in particular are well placed to undertake CSR. They are entrepreneurial; they are run by individuals who had the vision to start a company and continue to have the vision to introduce new and innovative ideas, through CSR; they have shorter lines of communication allowing all staff to be included in key initiatives and; they have greater flexibility which enables them to adapt their business practices to facilitate CSR undertakings.

“There is clear evidence that workers in companies that undertake CSR are more motivated, creative and innovative; their productivity tends to increase; they attain better customer satisfaction and loyalty; the local community views the company in a more positive light; it gives them more networking opportunities with other companies in similar schemes; and they generally generate increased turnover, sales and profit due to the competitive advantage they attain through proactive CSR.

“The positives accruing to CSR are obvious. We want to get more companies to look at local issues and problems and see how they can become involved. We want Shannon companies to enter Chambers Ireland’s CSR Awards 2015, which will be launched on Tuesday, 3 March. We want Shannon to feature in the 2015 awards list.

For more information on CSR and how to introduce a programme, contact Shannon Chamber at 061 708341 or email