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Connexus : Issue 36
Social responsibility and cooperation are values that are part of mutuals’ history and their guiding principles. Typically, this spirit was mutuals’ original reason to exist and fuelled their popularity in communities and groups throughout Australia. Such a diverse and numerous sector inev itably required consolidation and cooperative arrangements to maintain compliance, improve economic scale, and remain competitive. The collaborative industry promotion campaign ‘Comes Back to You’ is an excellent example of sector cooperation to raise awareness and build reputation and membership. Would it be possible for the sector to collectively contribute to sustainability and social responsibility issues in a Core values Only five years ago these attributes were seen as desirable, now they are seen as increasingly essential. Getting back to what really counts. By Philip Lambert similar way? While a marketing campaign has a limited lifespan with positive benefits, a well-designed and supported initiative could become an asset to the sector with a long reputation lifespan. It would add weight to mutuals’ own social responsibility activities as a local facet that is part of the bigger picture. Such an initiative would be an excellent way to address larger issues, and help position mutuals back in the social responsibility space where they started. BUSINESS BEST PRACTICE Business at large has caught on with the modern practice of environmental sustainability and social responsibility to achieve differentiation, demonstrate their values, and strategically add value to their business. It is now as important as ever to remain socially relevant to your membership and local communities. Activities that create sustainability are valued by an increasingly aware and sav vy marketplace. Innovative governance, social and environmental practice are appreciated by the marketplace because decision making based on these factors is seen as a contemporar y management approach. Only five years ago these attributes were seen as desirable, now they are seen as increasingly essential. Capturing new membership is likely to be based on consumer decisions to go with the fairer player once they have shopped around on price – selecting the offer that values social and environmental sustainability as central to success in both business and community. As a deal maker then, messages need to be phased, accessible and true. They can be as simple as slogans, quotes, newsletter articles, case studies or summary progress reports; through to detailed annual sustainability performance reporting. Start simple, attract attention and prov ide access to detail if people are interested. WHAT’S NEXT? The opportunity now is to revisit core values, set the focus and refine your communications – and really put both feet forward. To find a focus, engage with your stakeholders; ask what is important to them; what partners are needed to address problems; and what your mutual can contribute to the solution. For any assistance w ith your mutual’s sustainability initiatives, please contact Philip Lambert by phone: 02 8299 9031 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org . – Philip Lambert is a CUFA project officer. connexus www.abacus.org.au 58 COMMUNITY