12 Jul 2012

Business NZ urges firms to get involved in communities

8:00 am on 12 July 2012

Business New Zealand is urging firms to get involved in their communities, saying they can do more to help reduce child poverty.

The second event in the Every Child Counts-Business New Zealand series will take place at Te Papa on Thursday evening.

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says many smaller firms already do things in their communities to make it a better place, such as sponsorship of local sport teams.

He says while firms should not be hectored into contributing, particularly in the tough economic environment many find themselves, businesses often do things that reflect their commercial focus, and need to be encouraged to go further.

Mr O'Reilly says examples of activities which are close to their business but which help communities include financial literacy for banks or computers in schools for the computer companies or Telcos.

But he says businesses need to do more because there are a lot of very complex issues that can't be solved just by the Government passing a law or spending more money.

"The community needs to get involved in businesses, as part of the community need to get involved in those activities".

One child support organisation, Plunket, has established relationships with business, including Microsoft, BNZ and Colgate.

Plunket chief executive Jenny Prince says it vets firms to ensure their values match, and work out how they might effectively work together to ensure children are well cared for.

She says that Microsoft, for example, provides Plunket with access to technical consulting and software it otherwise couldn't afford.

Ms Prince says that makes a major difference to how much funding Plunket can then put into funding its frontline services.

"The other way ... I believe business can play a big part is by giving us the opportunity of their expertise and business acumen that helps us work through different innovative ways of doing things."

Ms Prince says it would also encourage firms to adopt policies that support parents, such as flexible hours.