Societal change, driven by generational youth movements, is very much part of human history. Rock and roll in the ’50s, the anti-war/peace movement of the ‘60s, and, more recently, the Arab Spring are all attributable to the youth of the time. Youth often usher in a new age that improves the human experience and addresses shortcomings in the current system. In recent years, millennials and Generation Z have influenced business ethics. No longer can businesses solely focus on profit. Organisations need to take their responsibility seriously to the community. A new term has been born, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
For many companies, however, CSR is nothing more than virtue signalling with a profit motive. Businesses adopt a CSR strategy because it is good for business. When oil companies start talking about the environment, banks start talking about their love for people in financial need, and alcohol companies start responsible drinking campaigns, a degree of cynicism is only natural. Not that virtue signalling is necessarily a negative. Indeed, if one focuses on outcomes, virtue signalling is a catalyst for powerful outcomes.
CSR is, however, often a one-off event marketed extensively on social media. The sleep-out once a year on the street, the quarterly volunteer day and beach clean-ups all make for good PR, without any substantive change or actual impact on lives, be it the business people or the recipients.
When it comes to CSR, boxing gyms are different. CSR has always been part of the very fabric of many boxing gyms. In the spit and sawdust gyms located in many working-class areas, the gyms have always been a natural community for troubled youth and those less fortunate. Gym owners and boxing coaches donate their time, resources and even homes to help the less privileged. Many world-class boxers got their start through such gyms, including; Mike Tyson, Canelo Alveraz, and Tyson Fury. Legendary trainers like Cus D’Amato are legends not only for developing champions but also for how they devoted their lives to helping others.
Spartans is a unique blend of original boxing ethos within a world-class modern fitness centre. Our roots remain with the fight gyms of the past, packaged for the modern environment. We cater to the fighter, weekend warrior and the general community simply looking for a means to get fit. Our roots are in boxing history but with a broader offering than many of our predecessors.
Spartans does not have a CSR division, nor do we talk of CSR. We are a boxing gym, and the community is implicit in the business model. Spartans integrate CSR in our business not as a sporadic event but as a pillar of Spartans Mind. CSR is not an add-on to our business; CSR is what we do.
Strengthen is the pillar within Spartans mind focussed on community outreach. Under strengthen, we work with two groups, each with its strategic partner. The first group that we work with is at-risk youth. In Singapore, we have connected with Impart, an organisation that provides holistic support for youth in Singapore. Our programme includes boxing for physical fitness and social services to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.
The second group we partner with is Neugen, to work with ex-offenders and their families. Real change comes from working with a broader net than just the ex-offender, and reintegration starts with the family.
Futureselves underpins both of Spartans outreach programmes. Futureselves is an assessment and intervention hosted free by our technology partner, Podium. The Futureselves programme helps people set life goals across multiple domains and then put the strategies to achieve their goals in place.
For Spartans, CSR is how we do business. We don’t call it CSR. Community is a core value of our corporate office and each gym. Through ‘Strengthen’, we aim to build communities not with one-off donations or one day of voluntary work but through dedicated programmes with strategic partners. CSR is a good thing, a great thing driven by a need for societal change. For Spartans, we call it BAU.