Because it’s the right thing to do

January 19, 2015: In the first of a regular column, Jonathan Freeman,Managing Director of HRH The Prince of Wales’s charitable mentoring initiative Mosaic (www.mosaicnetwork.org.uk),writes about the benefitsmentoring can bring to corporations and businesses as well as the personal rewards fortheir employees.

Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, Mosaic’s award-winning and accredited mentoring programmes help boost thefuture prospects of thousands of young people fromour most disadvantaged communities. Mosaic’s core mission is to strengthen and nurture a society in which everyone is valued and plays an important part. Sadly, here in the UK, those from Muslim communities are disproportionately over-represented in disadvantaged communities, so we work particularly to help these young people.

In October 2013, The Prince of Wales spoke at the first World Islamic Economic Forum outside of the Muslim World. His Royal Highness made plain that, if we are to take proper account of the uncertainties and risks that come with the rapid changes we are seeing in our ever-more interconnected world, collaborative efforts will be key in establishing the dialogue and trust needed for success.

The Prince of Wales saw a clear answer as to where he saw the solutions lying to the global challenges of climate change, population control and the widening gulf between rich and poor: “It is clear from the Koran and, indeed, from the Bible too, that humanity has a sacred responsibility for the stewardship of the Earth.”

There is an important role for the Islamic finance industry in this context. The perils faced by financial and business organisations are notseparate from wider society. So, as The Prince of Wales suggested, it is surely only sensible to explore how the spirit inherent in the “moral economy” of Islam could enable a more just and ethical approach towards the management of systemic risk in economics, in business and in finance?

Business ethics are increasingly under the spotlight. With advances in social media, the smallest indiscretion can quickly fuel conversations online, making organisations more accountable for their actions like never before. With this in mind, more and more corporations are taking steps to give something back to society.

Mosaic delivers four mentoring programmes aimed at primary and secondary schoolstudents and ex-offenders, as well as our International Leadership Programme. Last year, we supported 6,545 young people, thanks to the huge efforts of over1,200 volunteer mentors. We engage countless corporations both in terms of providing financial support and, more importantly, by providing their employees with the opportunity to make a difference to someone else’s life for just a small proportion of their time.And they really do make a difference!

With the help of volunteer mentors, we can bridge the aspirations-attainment gap. By linking young people with inspirational role models in this way, we boost their confidence, self-efficacy and long-term employability.We’re so confident in the great work our volunteers carry out that we’ve partnered with the renowned National Centre for Social Research to undertake a ground-breaking five-year study of the impact mentors make on young people’s life chances.

So, of course it makes good economic sense for businesses to encourage their people to volunteer in the community. But the moral case for companies to be grounded on solid ethical foundations, as so powerfully set out by our Royal Founder is, frankly, far more important than short-term PR gains.