ICENA blog: Embed equality into your investment and procurement by working with a social enterprise

Our April Policy Forum meeting explored ‘Embedding equality and human rights into procurement and investment’. We looked at two broad ways in which investment and procurement can be harnessed to advance equality and human rights, one of these being through social enterprise. One of our speakers Jo Sapsard, Business Manager at ICENA Ltd, writes about how businesses can invest for the greater good. 

The Iceni, a fierce tribe led by Queen Boadicea, inspired us to name our organisation ICENA. We share not only a place of origin in the east of England but a commitment to justice and independence. We offer training and consultancy on the topics of sexual discrimination and violence. As a non-profit social enterprise, our revenue funds vital services for survivors of sexual violence.

The power of education to create change

We believe in the power of education to change understanding, attitudes, behaviour and approaches. We want to empower communities to overcome the causes and effects of sexual violence and promote equal access to resources and opportunities.

We take a strategic approach, combining bespoke, accredited training with policy and procedure reviews. Our training covers safeguarding, first disclosure and challenging myths and attitudes towards sexual violence. We train staff, teachers, safeguarding leads, managers, HR departments and wellbeing officers.

Since launching in 2018, we’ve worked with organisations across the education, private and public sectors including the University of Essex, NHS England and Colchester Borough Council.

Our most recent project was with the Avanti Schools Trust. We helped the organisation develop a new, student-led safeguarding and first disclosure policy. As a result of our collaboration, student survivors now feel safe to disclose and receive the support and guidance they need. Across the trust’s 12 schools, over 600 staff members took our training, impacting over 4,500 students.

Investing for the greater good

Most business these days think about their social footprint. But it’s not always easy to find ways to give back. By working with a social enterprise, you can make an impact that goes way beyond your organisation and even your community. For example, when you book ICENA for training or consultancy, first, you bring about social change within your organisation. Then, your fees keep sexual violence support services such as Rape Crisis open and running for those that need them. It’s a powerful way to create positive social change while procuring much-needed services for your organisation.

And there’s no need to sacrifice quality either. Quite the opposite. Services from social enterprises are tailor-made to your needs. They benefit from the dedication, care and passion of the team, who are committed to the cause. Social enterprises show innovation, drive and determination, and all that energy for change gets poured into your investment. In ICENA’s case, our training and consultancy are survivor-led and trauma-informed. And we pass all that valuable knowledge and insight onto you.

In return, your investment allows us to continue our work and continue supporting survivor services. Without resources, we cannot hope to achieve our social objectives. When you procure our training and consultancy, you help us to:

  • Serve areas that aren’t covered by traditional businesses, developing new solutions to address social challenges. For example, creating new training courses and updating the ones we already have to changing needs and situations.
  • Attract and maintain specialist staff and secure their roles long-term.
  • Form partnerships with government agencies, NGOs and corporations creating more opportunities and expanding our impact.
  • Gain visibility and recognition by investing in branding and marketing.

Our partnership with EDP Equally Ours has allowed us to establish our brand, create a more interactive and user-friendly website and expand our e-learning content. We’ve developed new relationships and received opportunities for learning through webinars, advice and research expertise. And most importantly, we’ve expanded our network and gained exposure to decision makers who see our passion and expertise in practice.

If you’d like to find out more about our services or talk about training or consultancy for your organisation, get in touch.


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