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HFVC Presented on Ethical Corporate Volunteering at Volonteurope Conference in Madrid

May 31st 2013 - Madrid Spain

HFVC's sector-leaders in engaging businesses in the community through volunteering activity, HFVC’s Marion Schumann and Dominic Pinkney were invited to present at today’s Volonteurope Conference: ‘Ethical Volunteering in the EU’ that had been organised superbly by new Volonteurope board member organisation Alianza por la Solidaridad.  HFVC are well established and active board members of Volonteurope, the international network promoting the values and principles of volunteering, active citizenship and social justice at local, regional, national and European level, both in the Member States of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

HFVC presented a workshop on the topic of ‘Ethical Volunteering in CSR and Employee Volunteering Schemes’. There are many grey areas in the realm of ethical volunteering and particularly so when it comes to volunteering by businesses. HFVC were able to present their practical experiences from the past 15 years of working with businesses and helping them volunteer in the community. In 2009 HFVC set up social enterprise Works4U which works exclusively with corporates and business in terms of volunteering and related activities, including skills based volunteering and online volunteering/desktop volunteering.

When it comes to ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR), definitions, methodologies and best practices vary and this leads to confusion. A good definition of CSR comes from Michael Hopkins in his 1998 publication, ‘A Planetary Bargain: Corporate Social Responsibility Comes of Age’:

Corporate Social Responsibility is concerned with treating the stakeholders of a company or institution ethically or in a responsible manner. ‘Ethically or responsible' means treating key stakeholders in a manner deemed acceptable according to international norms. Social includes economic and environmental responsibility. Stakeholders exist both within a firm and outside. The wider aim of social responsibility is to create higher and higher standards of living, while preserving the profitability of the corporation or the integrity of the institution, for peoples both within and outside these entities. CSR is a process to achieve sustainable development in societies.

HFVC then gave the many workshop attendees some real life corporate volunteering scenarios and asked them to think and discuss the ethical considerations. The conclusion is that there are no clear cut answers and each case has to be considered on an individual basis. HFVC recommends the following questions to ask when evaluating the ethical nature of corporate volunteering:
  1. What is the motivation of the company to carry out the volunteering?
  2. Does the company have a clear CSR policy or code of ethics?
  3. What is the value of the volunteering to the community, or the cost of not carrying it out?
  4. Is there any possibility of exploitation through the carrying out of the volunteering?
  5. Is any criticism of the company proven or alleged?
If you would like more information ethical volunteering by businesses or would like to know more about the services of Works4U, please contact Dominic Pinkney (Email: DominicP@works-4u.com  Tel. 020 8741 9876)