Why It’s Important To Sheridan to Be a Socially Responsible Business
Talking to the CEO of StreetSmart, Geoff Hills, on corporate social responsibility.
At Sheridan, we’re in the business of sleep — quite literally. And we have been for years. We encourage you, the reader, the consumer, to craft your perfect bed for a dreamy night’s sleep. One where you feel cosy and comfortable, warm and luxurious.
We have the privilege of offering — and you have the privilege of browsing and buying — multiple offerings that are expertly crafted, with everything from fibre to weave to minuscule stitches taken into consideration. Items that suit your personal aesthetic and help you style your perfect home; encourage your children to dream big; things for fun summer days spent seaside; cosy towels, robes and loungewear, and more.
But — and you can probably guess where we’re going with this — not everyone is afforded this same luxury. In fact, many Australians lack the privilege of even having a safe and secure place to call home, let alone decorate it.
We’ve spoken about it on World Homeless Day, but on any given night, over 116,000 people in our community are homeless — the person you see on a park bench, the friend perpetually couch surfing, someone you catch sleeping in their car.
And being in the business of sleep, we believe that every single of us deserves a safe place to sleep. We take this social responsibility to wider society seriously, which is why we launched SleepSafe in 2019, a non-profit initiative with charity StreetSmart.
As CEO of StreetSmart, Geoff Hills says, corporate social responsibility is about “businesses making an effort, giving back and helping the world to become a better place, bolstering purpose into their mission, vision and goals.”
Discussing ways that businesses can take part, Geoff explains that “Businesses are… donating product, skilled volunteering and pledging monetary support with tangible social outcomes.” He also elaborates on the fact that it’s great news to see more and more businesses (“both existing and start-ups”) having a social mission at the forefront.
We’ve leant on two of the ways to take part that Geoff outlined through SleepSafe. Not only is there the element of helping to raise much needed funds that help support vulnerable Australians without housing, but these funds are also seen through tangible, material aid — called sleep kits. Containing a towel and sheet set, they’re sent to shelters that need them most.
A non-traditional approach to the standard corporate social responsibility model between a non-profit and business, Geoff spoke of how, with SleepSafe, a “large, national scale customer base and audience” was connected with an “important social need”.
A two-fold approach, bedding linen and towels are a “core need” across StreetSmart’s community partner network. As we’re able to provide “immediate, quality material aid” directly to shelters — many of whom purchase these items for people who come to them seeking refuge — these shelters are then able to omit this expenditure. In turn, they can provide increased support in other areas to the “hundreds of vulnerable communities in Australia” that they, as a whole, provide to. A corporate social responsibility ripple effect, of sorts.
Another way companies can reach their audience — and beyond — is through large scale campaigns. In fact, instances like this allow another avenue to push out social messaging. Our Life Changing Sheets campaign — something Geoff praises as a “refreshing approach” — allows us to be transparent and communicative with our audience.
“We know that donors want to know where their donation went,” Geoff explains, and that they want to know “what was the outcome and what is the impact that the donor contributed to.”
With Life Changing Sheets, Sheridan “talks about vulnerable people in our local communities”, leaning into “how the simple comfort of bedding, linen and towels can make a difference to someone who is struggling.” It may be a straightforward message, but as Geoff explains “StreetSmart might not have had the opportunity to connect or spread the word about how material aid, such as the sleep kit, is in such demand.”
The thing about corporate social responsibility — and why it’s so important for businesses to be socially responsible — is that unlike items businesses may sell, it’s not based on what’s trending at the moment. It’s a commitment; one that has a tangible impact upon a segment of society.
Part of the “magic of this initiative”, as Geoff tells us, is not only the growth of community partners who receive the sleep kits, it’s also “the connection local stores and their customers are having with their local community.”