The value of corporate social responsibility in sports; a conversation with Marc Serra, our Business Director and member of Common Goal.
In recent years, the concept and application of corporate social responsibility (CSR), a policy or conduct that seeks and encourages the social contribution by the person or entity that carries it out, has become relevant within the sport.
We have talked with our Business Manager, Marc Serra, to get a wider vision of CSR in sports and especially football.
What is your vision of CSR?
I think that before talking about CSR we must take a closer look to what it really means and most importantly, why companies should invest on it for the world, for the people in need and themselves as well. In my opinion, CSR means an incredible opportunity for companies to contribute to our society (in many ways) and spread a message of collaboration and teamwork to all the people, specifically to their employees and to their customers.
Between the connection society and sport, sponsors have found in football a tool to develop their social activity. Which CSR has made the most impression on you and why?
I’ve seen lots of CSR actions during the last couple of years, but the one that has amazed me the most was Common Goal. Not only for their actions but for the idea and the way they work. Common Goal is a global movement where foundations and CSR projects are funded by football’s people (professional players, professionals, and fans). The fact is that everyone in Common Goal pledges 1% of their annual salary to the movement and Common Goal’s team oversees making the most of each euro received. In fact, they can make that each 1€ they receive creates an effect of 7€ invested.
Some football clubs have the belief that CSR is an expense, rather than an investment. What is your opinion about it, and how do you think this belief could change?
For those who still think that CSR is just an expense I’d say that they should invest in a small project to get started and get feedback from their employees, the people or foundation they’ve helped and make an analysis of what they received in exchange. I’m sure they’ll repeat.
CSR has been revealed in recent years as a need rather than as a fashion, although clubs do not always know how to develop it as an alternative to business and roots. What do you think clubs can do to promote CSR in an effective way and with excellent results?
There are two options. First one is to hire professionals that are skilled in that specific area. It is not easy to be capable of making the most of each euro or dollar invested in a CSR project. Clubs should consider that area as one more area in the club, an important one, not just some kind of charity program where they donate money and forget about the results. And on the other hand, clubs can also join forces with companies or foundations that are experienced in the field such as Common Goal and create significant actions together since one has the resources and the other know which projects need investment, why and how to approach each project’s situation.
The favorite figure to carry out CSR actions are the company/team foundations, but very few of them generate permanent actions and tend to lack resources often. What is your opinion about it, and what do you think can be done so that each club have continuous CSR actions and greater funding?
All professional football clubs have the resources to carry out CSR projects. Depending on the money and the people they can invest in it, the projects can take different shapes. But it’s not that difficult to make someone’s day with little investment. As an example, if one small club wants to launch CSR actions and it doesn’t have a significant amount of money to invest, they can join forces with a local foundation to give people the chance to meet players and visit the stadium. As simple as that. Tiny investment, excellent results in exchange for the ones that can enjoy those actions. Of course, it’d of help if they had money to invest in the cause as well. But just a little act can make an enormous difference in someone’s life. And that’s what CSR is, making our environment a better place and making people happier than they are.
And what do you do in CA Sports to work in that kind of projects?
We love that kind of projects. So far, we’ve worked with two fabulous projects focused in CSR with DKV Salud and Agua Lanjarón. The first one was the activation of two Ultra Marathons, where people had to raise 1.500€ to be allowed to run the race. All funds were given to Oxfam Intermon and invested in improving or creating water supply systems in specific African countries where people have to walk long hours and lots of kilometres to find potable water. The other project with Agua Lanjaron was focused on developing the first-ever plogging race in Spain. Plogging consists of doing sport while picking up rubbish. We had more than 500 people involved that cleaned and recycled more than 200kg of waste. And there are more projects on their way!