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Why partnering for good is good for business

Why should businesses do good? It’s not just about reputation or charity. It’s about becoming a more successful business.

Currie is a proudly-certified B Corporation, a founding member in Australia. As a B Corp, we believe in the power of business to make a difference. It’s why Currie gifts 5% of its consulting time to pro-bono work. In providing pro bono services, we’ve found great satisfaction in having a positive social and environmental impact.

But we’ve also discovered enormous value for the business.

Working with not-for-profits has given us the opportunity to meet new people outside our usual clientele. Breaking outside the box means discovering new perspectives and broadening our experiences.

Our long-standing partnership with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) has seen us employ two interns each year from the Mentoring Program. It has been a great opportunity to help others establish themselves in Australia, and for Currie to learn from their experience and expertise.

The work we have done for our pro bono clients has seen us tackle complex social problems. It has pushed us to uncover new angles to age-old problems. And it has given us the opportunity to work with people across multiple disciplines.

This year we finished our work with the World Bank-funded project, Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES). As part of this project, we helped improve the long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems, and the wellbeing of coastal communities. Working with a multi-disciplinary team, Currie supported the development of tools that will help policymakers, businesses and communities to better manage the environment.

As a consultancy, continuous learning is vital to ensuring we can provide the best advice possible to our clients. Providing fresh and different perspectives is part of the value we bring. Our pro bono work has been more than just an exercise in social impact. It has been an integral part of becoming a better business.

In Currie’s journey to become a purpose-driven company, we’ve learnt a lot. When we consider our annual pro bono budget, it’s a no brainer – why not become a more successful business while also doing good?

This month is B Corp Month and the theme is Better Business for a Better World. We think there is no better way to achieve this than through pro bono partnerships.

The value of pro bono partnerships

 

To evacuate women, men and – at that time, children – from offshore detention in order to provide them with urgent, life-saving medical care, lawyers were forced to run legal challenges or threaten legal action in the Federal Court, until the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 (Cth) passed.

This could not have happened without the strong support of the Human Rights Law Centre’s (HRLC) pro bono partnerships.

More than 13 law firms and a team of more than 30 counsel across Australia worked together to massively scale up the number of cases and help people receive appropriate medical care.

We are so grateful to these law firms who, at a call from HRLC, dropped everything – often working through the weekends to pull together the evidence demonstrating how people’s lives were at imminent risk, or at risk of long term damage, unless they were removed to proper medical facilities not available on the islands.

The support of the legal community has been remarkable. It has been inspiring to see lawyers come together at all hours of the day and night to respond urgently to seriously sick and vulnerable people. On multiple occasions when there was an emergency, we called firms on a Friday night and they were in court that weekend fighting to have women, men and children brought to Australia for desperately needed medical care.

The experience has reinforced for me the legal profession’s commitment to access to justice.

 

Solving complex social problems requires both business and community

 

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is an independent not for profit organisation that receives no federal government funding. We rely on the community to fund our critical work.

Small business and corporate pro bono support has been one of our core funding sources and an integral part of our community.

We have seen recent growth in pro bono support through strategic partnerships. This is a really exciting and rewarding space for the ASRC as it enables us to provide programs that deliver value to our corporate partners while directly benefiting people seeking asylum. A great example includes the practical form of social justice and equity/inclusion that has been delivered to people seeking asylum – as well as other socially and economically marginalised groups – through the expansion of our employment pathways program with the assistance of Cross Yarra Partnership and CPB/John Holland (for the Westgate Tunnel Project).

Our capacity to deliver legal advice and representation has been expanded by recently developed pro bono partnerships with a number of leading Melbourne law firms, through our Human Rights Law Program. These partnerships also provide opportunities for firms to engage their lawyers and paralegals in meaningful and rewarding work.

Our recent partnership with Currie and Yarra Trams will give us the opportunity later this year to raise much-needed awareness amongst Melbourne commuters of the challenges faced by people seeking asylum.

One of the keys to our success in building good pro bono partnerships is ensuring we have a collective focus on shared value. While there are many opportunities for people to engage with our work, the best partnerships are the ones where benefits are shared and the power in the relationship is balanced. These partners don’t just see us as a charity, but rather an important partner in delivering benefits to organisations, the community, staff and society as a whole.

Because, civil society works at its best when business and community share the heavy lifting needed to solve complex social problems.

About Ryan Ong

A graduate from Monash University with a double degree in Arts and Law, Ryan maintains an interest in a diverse range of fields from the legal-political to technology, and communications. As an idealist turned realist, he continues to be passionate about practical social impact.

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