This week we’re sharing a blog post from our Head of Operational Oversight Sinéad Sheehan – on whether charitable giving can be a selfless act, and why we’re committed as a team here at GemCap to go beyond the minimum required and make a positive impact on the world.
Many moons ago I completed a thesis titled The Kaleidoscope of Charity and in the opening line I stated: “The practice of charity may be as old as human experience but, in many societies, and in many cultures, the altruistic emotion has been clouded by moralisation or self-interest in the form of various ethics”. When I consider it now, I wonder: am I still as cynical as I was back then or has my thought process evolved to a more rounded and inclusive view?
Working in an industry with a growing focus on ESG and encouragement from all aspects of society to be charitable, I sit and consider again what motivates us as individuals and organisations. Do we just want to flash an article or picture on social media to get a quick like and pat on the back for being a good citizen, or can we say our motivations are driven by a more wholesome intent? I would hope it is more of the latter, and that we as individuals are not solely driven by a need for validation, a source of social power or an outlet for various forms of philanthropic activity.
However, I am also not naive, and I recognise that being charitable is largely a mutually beneficial experience, and I do not believe it is a bad or selfish thing to admit that. We often hear how it is better to give than to receive, and I agree with that sentiment. Being charitable does not mean you have to be totally selfless, perform some grand gesture or big donation; it should form part of our daily lives and be considered even in the most mundane tasks we carry out.
We live in a world where at any given moment we could possibly be a benefactor or a recipient of a charity. If this global pandemic has taught us nothing else, we have learned the reliance we have on each other as human beings and that we need to exist in an environment where people are inherently good. We should strive to do good every day and not allow acts of charitable giving to be a contrived act of goodness.
Here at GemCap an essential part of our core values as a company is to consider how we can do good; it is not a forced value but one which was proposed and committed to by all employees. It can be something as simple as supporting new staff members through to working with a charity of personal choice or significance. We are encouraged to carry out charitable acts not because we have to but because we want to. Based on personal experience, I see charity as an expression of good which will lead to a unifying principle in the workplace and society.
I am by no means saying I am perfect, but all we can do is try as individuals and make charity an everyday part of life and not a standing agenda item in a monthly meeting; to make a conscious choice to try and do good acts in our personal and professional life.