Since 2013, Legal & General has been supporting social enterprises with the Social Enterprise (SE) Assistant social investment fund, and to date we have offered 44 investments totalling over £1 million. But 2020 has been especially challenging, with the Covid-19 pandemic putting huge pressure on businesses and, therefore, local communities.
We believe our support can and should go even further in these challenging times, so we partnered with the Social Enterprise Academy Wales to offer a one-day Enterprising Leadership programme to our SE Assist portfolio of businesses in Wales as well as the wider Wales social enterprise network in September, bringing some of the most innovative business minds in Wales together. “The Social Enterprise Academy delivers leadership and enterprise programmes across the breadth of Wales, which have a really positive impact on local communities, and also helps empower the people in those communities to realise their full potential by providing the right training and the right support needed to run their business,” explains Lynne Sheehy, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Legal & General.
“The Social Enterprise Academy is going to provide people running those businesses huge value, enabling them to be upskilled, providing the right support and the right training that those people need to develop, sustain and run those businesses in the local community,” says Sheehy. “These organisations are seen as vital in driving the regeneration of communities, creating much-needed job opportunities and a vibrant, diverse and inclusive local economy.”
Our desire to drive diversity and inclusion in local businesses is already prominent in Wales, where our Cardiff Diversity & Inclusion Committee has been recognised as Responsible Business Champions in Diversity & Inclusion by Business in the Community Cymru, for the second year in a row. This is especially important in 2020, where Covid-19 has exacerbated existing societal inequalities.
“The Committee has brought its national commitment to diversity and inclusion to life locally by listening to its people, understanding their views, taking suggestions and then designing and implementing a compelling diversity and inclusion strategy, specifically to address the areas of interests to the Cardiff team,” explains Jenny Atkinson, Chair of the Legal & General Cardiff Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The strategy includes celebrating Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Pride Cymru, The Menopause Exchange, World Mental Health Day and LGBT History Month.
These organisations are seen as a vital drive in driving the regeneration of communities, creating much-needed job opportunities and a vibrant, diverse and inclusive local economy as well.
Amid the pandemic, businesses are having to adapt and rethink their growth strategies, at times with very little notice, and with “business as usual” highly unlikely to be a viable option for the future, businesses need to review and renew their approach to generating income and creating a sustainable business for whatever the short-term and post-pandemic future might look like. Because of this, the Enterprising Leadership programme focused specifically on what it means to be enterprising in 2020. It was run by successful local business leaders, who helped those in attendance plan their future as an integral and sustainable part of their local community.
The success of the Enterprising Leadership programme has resulted in us also supporting delivery of the Rethinking Income Streams recovery programme. Taking place in November, the programme is designed for businesses whose plans are being redesigned to reflect the current reality and what the future might realistically look like. “Supporting the Rethinking Income Streams programme gives us the opportunity to look at how we can further help these businesses build long-term growth for a sustainable future,” says Sheehy.
This series of programmes that support local entrepreneurs plays an important role supporting post-pandemic business growth and, in doing so, supporting the regeneration of the communities at the heart of society.