A Q&A with Caroline Diehl

24 April 2016

Caroline Diehl is CEO of the Media Trust and a member of the National Business Awards Advisory Board. We spoke to Caroline about her role and her thoughts on the awards...


You're CEO of the Media Trust, tell us more about the company and your role…

Media Trust is the UK's leading communications charity. We work in partnership with the wider media, digital and advertising industry to support thousands of charities to have a voice. We offer a range of communications services and resources, including film production, training, media partnerships, access to media volunteers and pro bono support, and the UK-wide Community Channel, which we launched 15 years ago and run.


"Some of the best creative talent in the country give their time to bring impact stories to life"


I am Founder and Chief Executive, having set up Media Trust 22 years ago, with a small grant from ITV. I'm also a Social Entrepreneur in Residence at INSEAD, and an EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year. I have a fascinating role, connecting with people across the media industry, the charity sector, government and charitable foundations, alongside working with Media Trust's brilliant team of over 40 passionate staff, a very dedicated board of trustees, and thousands of media volunteers.

What's the most enjoyable part of your job?

I always thrive on the range of fascinating networking opportunities I have, but what I love best is seeing the impact of our work on the thousands of incredible charities, community groups and young people we support each year across the UK. They constantly reinforce how Media Trust's work really does change lives - all thanks to the brilliant support of our media corporate members and media volunteers. And then there's often laughter and tears seeing the films we make for charities - with some of the best creative talent in the country giving time to bring their impact stories to life.


"We're seeing social impact being embedded across the company, a reason to recruit the best young graduates, to retain the best employees, and to reinforce the overall brand"


How do you think the industry has evolved over the past few years, are companies becoming more aware of their responsibilities in regards to CSR and social impact?

At Media Trust we've noticed a really big change over the last few years: our 43 media corporate members are really keen to use their professional skills to make a difference in communities, rather than going off to paint community centres or plant trees. So for example, our members will volunteer to create high impact films for charities, or to mentor disadvantaged young people to write social action articles, or to train diaspora groups how to use social media to change negative perception into positive voices. So Media Trust is increasingly their charity of choice, as our core purpose is to harness the industry's creative, media and communications skills for good.

Across the wider corporate sector we're seeing social impact being embedded across the company, a reason to recruit the best young graduates, to retain the best employees, and to reinforce the overall brand of the company, internally and externally. Corporate Responsibility and social impact is taken much more seriously across the board, CEO and right across the organisation, and is often a driver of the brand and business, rather than a side-lined 'add-on'.


How would you recommend businesses look to increase their positive social impact?

I'd like to see a movement across all businesses, large and small, of skilled volunteers, engaging with and supporting the amazing small charities and community groups that hold our communities together. Just imagine how brilliant that would be? There's such a need out there. And through Media Trust's own volunteering initiatives we get such positive feedback from managers, HR and CSR -that the communications volunteers we match are enthused and inspired, that they learn new skills, and that they hugely appreciate how lucky they are to be in relatively well-resourced companies! It's win-win.


You're on the National Business Awards Advisory Board, how important do you think these awards are to businesses?

The NBAs are inspirational. They offer businesses large and small an opportunity to showcase and celebrate their achievements and their innovation. They create an opportunity for businesses to share best practice across industry, and within companies, to build employer brand, motivating and inspiring staff.


You've previously judged the Corporate Social Responsibility Award, what would your advice be to those entering the new titled Postive Social Impact Award this year? 

The new title for this Award really says it all. We are looking for clear evidence of impact, and we're hoping to get some wonderful stories of social change, and social impact. We'll want to see a real legacy too, for the business and for society.


Premiership Rugby won the award lsat year, what stood out to you in their entry that helped them win?

There was a real evidence of impact across Premiership Rugby's winning entry. Impact across multiple communities, and across the business at all levels, from the board and CEO through to the staff and volunteers in the community. Their CSR and Community activity was integrated and embedded across the company, and they had fabulous stories to tell, along with creative photos, video and media coverage. They told a great story, and inspired all the judges - it was a unanimous and very enthusiastic winning choice from all of us.


Any final tips for anyone entering this award or any of the others?

Inspire us, move us, convince us. Harness the best creativity from your colleagues to tell a great story. Don't just tell us what you did, but also brilliantly convey the wider impact of what you did - on society, in communities, for the planet and for your employees, customers and brand.


Caroline is running the London Marathon, for the Antony Nolan charity who found the bone marrow that saved her son's life. Help support Caroline with her fundraising by donating to the charity.