Corporations demanding social impact, says Connection Crew

Connection Crew has identified a new trend in companies favouring social enterprise on event tender documents.

Despite initially being overlooked by many, social enterprise is now undergoing a sea change in demand, according to Connection Crew director Charlie Dorman. He told Access that big international corporations are now demanding social impact in their supply chains.

“Social is now being added alongside environmental and financial impact in the bottom line of tender documents. Environmental is quite standard to be in the running for certain contracts, however our clients are now saying that measuring social impact is having an actual commercial value, not just a feel good factor.”

Each year, Connection Crew sends a certificate to clients detailing what percentage of
its work homeless people fulfilled.

“There’s been a gradual education that’s pushing value up the supply chain,” Dorman said. “People are looking at best practice in how to achieve social impact. Part of the problem is there is no standard framework, but for us, having hours worked by ex-homeless employees makes it very easy to understand. Less tangible factors like happiness and giving back are often much harder
to measure.”

Deloitte was name checked as an example of a high profile company that is leading on social impact partly because of client demand. “People want a product that’s clean, without blood on its hands. Marketing and events agencies have blurred, so social enterprise is a great differentiator. If every major business employed just one ex-homeless person, that would have a transformative effect
on the UK,” Dorman added.

Deloitte’s Social Innovation Pioneers Programme supports high performing social enterprises, providing a tailored support package to help them grow to scale and become investment-ready. Now in its fourth iteration, the programme invests more than £1m each year in the initiative.

Connection Crew claims to be the only social enterprise in the events industry and one of the most successful currently running in the UK. Dorman is active in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Enterprise.

Connection Crew, currently celebrating its 10th year of business, provides crewing and logistics with a mandate to source at least 25 per cent homeless staff. Surplus profits from the company go to Connection at
St Martins, a charity that rehabilitates hundreds of homeless people each year.