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A Leeds business is encouraging local firms to use a new online benchmarking tool to help measure how they apply social responsibility in the areas of education, employment, environment and the community.

Document management specialists the Arena Group, which won the community category award in the 2017 West and North Yorkshire Chamber ‘Raising The Bar’ awards, is supporting the launch of the Chamber’s new benchmarking software which helps businesses audit their social responsibility activity.

The tool is one of a number of new features in the Chamber’s extended Raising The Bar programme which includes online ‘how to’ guides and skills sharing which aim to empower and equip firms of all sizes to consider the positive impact they can make in the wider community.

Head of Software Development and Delivery Graham Harris said: “The effort we put in every year to our CSR activities benefits our communities and the charities we work with including sponsorship of local Run for All events which enable young people to participate in healthy activity regardless of background. Involvement in CSR also pays huge dividends in terms of employee engagement by enhancing our culture and making Arena great people to do business with.

“The Chamber’s social responsibility benchmarking tool is a fantastic resource to help businesses really measure the great work they already do in the community and guide them in how to improve their social responsibility activities. We’d definitely encourage others to put people and the community at the heart of their business and to get involved in Raising the Bar 2018 – being involved has been a true source of pride to our employees.”

Retaining its annual Raising The Bar awards event which will be held in November 2018 and celebrates businesses who give time or resources to help local causes, the Chamber has introduced the online diagnostic tool to unlock the social responsibility potential of even more businesses in Bradford, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire.

Chief Executive Sandy Needham said: “Raising The Bar has historically celebrated regional social responsibility success stories. The Chamber now wants to do even more to help local businesses give back by connecting with and learning from others who have already made a start. Our free, online social responsibility diagnostic tool offers businesses a thorough insight and a starting point to explore their current role within the community before considering how to improve or expand into new areas.”

She added: “Good social responsibility isn’t all about raising money – there is real value in transferring knowledge and skills through the gift of your time. Through Raising The Bar we want to unlock the social responsibility potential of local businesses and get them connecting, talking and learning from each other to help more firms take the steps that make a real difference in their communities.”

The benchmarking tool can be found on the Raising The Bar website  https://www.raising-the-bar.org.uk/social-impact/ which also contains case studies of businesses who have successfully implemented social responsibility activities in their local communities. With input from past Raising The Bar awards winners and charities it will also include ‘how to’ guides including ‘how to make a difference’, ‘finding the right social responsibility partner’ and ‘colleague engagement’.

In 2017, entrants to the Raising The Bar business awards from across West and North Yorkshire, recorded almost 20,000 hours of ‘giving back’ to their local communities.

Graham added: “The Raising the Bar judges recognised the huge effort of our 220 employees who, in our 25th anniversary year of fundraising, collectively raised over £32,000 for local hospices and commended our success in involving everyone across the business. We really hope the Chamber’s new online software will inspire others while giving them the tools and support needed to really develop their community work.”

More information about the West and North Yorkshire Chamber’s social responsibility benchmarking tool, inspiring case studies and top tips can be found at www.raising-the-bar.org.uk or by emailing info@raising-the-bar.org.uk or calling 08455 240 240.