Think Big with Responsible Business Week

It’s Responsible Business Week. O2 is a firm believer that as a business we should operate in a responsible and sustainable way, because it’s the right thing to do for both people and our planet. One of the ways we do this is by providing funding and support to young people with great ideas that use technology to lead change in their communities. One of these young people is Salisu Mohammed:

salLast week I was advising a friend on whether a job they had been offered was right for them. Doing so took me back to when I was looking for a grad scheme, where I was lucky enough to stumble across a quote, which helped filter my search dramatically. It was “talk is cheap, meaning what you say is priceless. Don’t tell me you’re funny – tell me a joke.”

Of course this can apply to numerous contexts, from choosing a partner to buying a second hand car, but it’s particularly useful when navigating the employment minefield where jargon is common and there can sometimes be a disconnect between what you think you’re signing up for vs. what you actually get.

Perhaps what that quote did for me most was help me think about what values meant most to me. A long list neatly fell into three buckets, which I refer to as the 3 C’s. Contribution; Creativity; Comfort.

Almost 4 years on, and fittingly during Responsible Business Week I thought it would be good to share these and look at how they’ve influenced the steps I’ve taken since.

Contribution

I sum this up as profits with purpose. Of course businesses should create profit, but it shouldn’t be the only objective.

Two things particularly stood out for me when choosing to join O2. The first was that we can truly make peoples lives better through connectivity and the second was our commitment to impact young people and the planet through Think Big. This has seen me become a One Young World Ambassador, help children stay safe online with our NSPCC partnership as well as start my own social business venture.

Values really make an organisation. It helps answer why am I here and places you around people who may be different, but are aligned to your core beliefs. Increasingly millennials are looking to join companies which have a core mission that they feel passionate about. With Deloitte predicting by 2025 this generation will make up 75% of the global workforce, companies need to look at values as their number one retention strategy.

Creativity

A lot companies talk about the hiring of millennials for their fresh thinking. I really wanted creativity to be a two way street, with the company I work for challenging me to think differently as much as I would bring new ideas to them.

Looking at the way we are using digital tools to tackle social issues was eye opening to me and shaped me enough to create my own social enterprise.

appLast year I was funded through Think Big to develop an idea I had called, Connected Homeless, a digital platform, which aims to act as a support structure for homeless people. It will connect them to key support services, events, redeemable vouchers and employment opportunities. Underpinning this platform is a feature, which allows donations to be made through text messages and our app, which is then converted into digital coins that can be redeemed at participating shops and organisations for necessities including food, sanitary products, and accommodation.

Comfort

I speak of comfort here in terms of a support structure function rather than a position of apathy. It’s great to know your company has got your back and are doing everything they can to make you and your project a success. Not only have O2 funded my project, but they’ve also given me the platform to share my work at senior meetings and even at the House of Commons.

This not only stops me from living a double life but the support allows me to push the boundaries even further as I know I have resources and a network to call on.

We’re not alone

It’s becoming clearer than ever that having a responsibility to the communities you serve and the environment is good for business with more and more businesses embracing sustainable practices. At the core it focuses people and motivates them to be their best, which inevitably is reflected in the quality of your product you deliver.

The good thing about doing good is that there can never be too much competition. Many more welcome!

Find out more about O2 Think Big here.