There are many points in your career that can make you stop and reflect on what you have achieved in your working life. For me, being nominated for an award is one of those times and my recent nomination for the First Women Awards, in association with Lloyds Banking Group has prompted some thought.
I am immensely proud of my company The Consulting Consortium, having built it from an initially small enterprise to the largest independently-owned compliance consultancy in the UK, but I am also proud of what we achieve outside of the office, in the charitable sector.
I am a passionate supporter of The Big Issue Invest (BII), the social investment arm of The Big Issue, and my position on the board gives me first-hand experience of the real difference BII's loans and investments make to charities and social enterprises throughout the UK.
All businesses impact and interact with society and the world around them and the outcome may be good or bad, or a mixture of both over the life of the business. Because of this I firmly believe that businesses should be involved in creating a better society, through the support of charitable causes and social enterprises that work so hard to improve lives. For many of these causes, there are very few avenues of finance open to them to enable their work with disadvantaged groups to continue.
Aside from what is necessary by law, caring about charitable and environmental causes in the workplace can seem unnecessary and against the capitalist nature of business. Even outside of the office it can be viewed as a women's role to care about society and the work of charities, playing up to the stereotype of care-giver and the assumption that women are led purely by their emotions.
Women don't have to choose between caring about the world around them and being good in business, it is possible to combine the two by bringing charity into the heart of business and really make a difference to those in a less fortunate position. Last year TCC individuals and teams raised in excess of £20,000 for a variety of charities, taking part in events that required training and determination. While individual fundraisers do a fantastic job, raising millions of pounds for charity each year, I believe businesses have a duty to do more, to use their impact and place in society for the greater good as well as the pursuit of profits and growth.
Who knows, maybe the people you help today could be the ones to help your business in the future.
Joanne Smith is CEO of award winning financial compliance consultancy, The Consulting Consortium and technology solution RecordSureTM