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Community Support, by Butterfield

The coronavirus pandemic has brought businesses’ priorities into sharp focus. Commercially, UK companies have had to carefully consider how they can best adapt their product or service in the midst of global lockdowns.

What’s more, internal issues are now consuming more attention. For one, the wellbeing of employees has become an increasingly prevalent talking point; many business leaders are questioning how they look after staff, ensuring they have the support required to do their job effectively as well as cope emotionally with the challenges of remote working.

In many ways, though forced upon businesses, this current period of introspection is positive. When the lockdown is eventually lifted, the UK’s private sector ought to have more efficient processes in place, greater potential for flexible working, and a more rounded perspective on employee satisfaction (I explore this topic in greater depth here).

There is another way in which the private sector may be better for this crisis: its willingness to embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Indeed, it could be argued that COVID-19 has brought out the best in individuals, communities and businesses. The crisis has inspired generosity from people, and this certainly extends into the corporate world.

Implementing an effective CSR strategy

CSR—the process of a company being accountable for the impact it has on societies, cultures and the environment—is a fickle subject. The problem is exacerbated by the fact CSR has become a clumsy business acronym that is sometimes bandied around without enough thought or meaning.

In its best form, a company’s CSR strategy can be a tremendous way of making a positive impact on a community or place. Yet, if approached rashly, CSR becomes little more than a box-ticking exercise.

So, how can a business ensure it develops a CSR strategy that is coherent, relevant, will garner internal support and actually make a difference?

From my perspective, it all starts with committing resources to the subject. This is, of course, a difficult thing to balance around one’s core responsibilities. Indeed, that is why CSR must be treated as a core responsibility for business leaders, not an afterthought or PR exercise.

It is prudent to consider two questions: what cause do you, as a business, want to support, and what are the outcomes you hope to achieve?

Choosing the right cause

A CSR strategy should reflect and reinforce the values of key stakeholders in the business—customers, clients, employees and shareholders alike. Furthermore, it ought to focus on the areas where business operations overlap with wider society.

For multinational enterprises, global issues will be more fitting. For smaller businesses, community-based projects or initiatives may make more sense.

For example, Butterfield Mortgages is a part of the Butterfield Group, which proudly serves as a Global Pilot Partner of the Seabin Project — an initiative created by Australian entrepreneurs Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton to reduce the amount of waste in the world’s waters.

As an offshore bank with many of our principal operations based in island nations, it was important for Butterfield to raise awareness of the dangers and impact of water pollution around the world. And with offices in The Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Mauritius, the UK, Switzerland, Canada and Singapore, the Seabin Project was an ideal initiative for Butterfield to support as part of the company’s broader CSR efforts.

The decision to offer financial backing for the Seabin Project came from an assessment of what mattered most to the business combined with research into initiatives that could most benefit or, make the greatest impact, with our support.

Choosing the right cause is an effective way of ensuring all staff buy into the CSR strategy. After all, this ought to be something in which employees feel proud to participate.

Now is the time to consider CSR carefully

As stated above, businesses are currently re-evaluating how they operate and ideally this should extend to CSR.

For some companies, the CSR strategy might be languishing in the shadows; for others, they might be yet to properly implement any CSR activities.

Ultimately, I would encourage businesses to seize the charitable sentiments that have been heightened during the coronavirus pandemic and commit some time to this issue. Whether it’s doing something for a coronavirus-related cause, or building a broader long-term strategy, the private sector must embrace its role in tackling pertinent issues affecting the planet.

To that end, I am proud to say that Butterfield Mortgages has recently donated £20,000 to support the University of Cambridge’s COVID-19 research fund. We are also making regular donations to NHS Charities Together, Age UK and Mind – organisations dedicated to supporting our frontline medical staff and those who are being directly affected by the pandemic.

To find out more about the research Cambridge University are undertaking please visit:



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