As a national, indeed global company, how do we ensure we truly ‘get local’ to create resilient communities where we live and work?

So what makes a resilient community? And why is it important?

A resilient community is one that works together, that is vibrant, where structures fit and where our youth are supported.  Our communities are constantly changing.  Nowhere is this more visible than the changing face of our high streets – household names disappearing overnight.  A resilient community is one that can anticipate that change, limit the impact, and bounce back rapidly through adaptability, evolution, and growth.

We have seen glimpses of resilient communities on the news – those that rallied together post the UK riots for example.  These communities were not only prepared to help prevent or minimize the damage to property and business, but also had the ability to quickly return to work, reopen businesses, and restore a sense of order needed for swift economic recovery. 

Our communities must continually re-invent themselves to survive, at the very least, and thrive in the face of adversity and change.  I am often challenged about what real role business has in local community – how can a global business truly make an impact locally and why should we try? 

My take is that companies really need to think about this.  The risk to business of operating in a non-resilient community is great – lack of recruitment pool, lack of skilled workforce and health and safety concerns to name but a few. 

When you look at it like that, it becomes apparent that business, in fact, has a significant part to play.   Indeed, business is critical to the success of a community and without it, a community cannot be truly resilient. 

Capgemini’s business is all about collaborating with our clients to develop the right solution … we are good at that, its in our DNA.  I see the same approach being vital for our communities to survive and adapt – collaboration across people, business and public sector.  When key stakeholders get together with open dialogue and mutual understanding …that’s when things can really spark. 

Our team in Telford have embarked on a recent collaborative journey to breathe life back into the disused Dawley Town Hall.  Helen Mitchell, who leads our community activity in the area says “All of our employees who took part in the Dawley Town Hall Tidy-up had a great day.  It is really important for us, as one of the biggest employers in Telford and Wrekin, to play an active part in the communities that we operate in.  Being part of a long term community project is great and it is really heartwarming to talk to local people in Dawley about memories they hold of this historical building.  Some residents also helped to recycle some of the waste material that we were going to dispose of; for example old wood that could be used for their log burners. Nothing of value was wasted in the tidy up day.”

Helen and the team are not alone – I receive a huge amount of entries for our Community Impact Awards every quarter from our employees working to make a difference where they live and work.  In 2012 we awarded 42 charities with over £24,000 in recognition of the incredible work our people were doing to build their own versions of the resilient community – whether it be raising money for the local hospice or volunteering as part of the air ambulance service.

One of our national charity partners, Business in the Community, has recognised this local interaction as being of vital important in building resilient communities.  Their programme ‘Business Connectors’ involves talented individuals seconded from business, trained by Business in the Community and placed in communities of greatest need to build partnerships that tackle local issues.  Find out more about Business Connectors.

I am speaking with one of the companies who has successfully implemented Business Connectors within their business to hear more about not only the community impact, but also the business benefits attached.  Watch this space!

So what next?  We have a long way to go to truly make an impact and feel like we are being part of the solution to build resilient communities where we operate.  But, we are aware of the importance, the community issues and the business drivers – the importance of thinking global and living local has never been more important or relevant.