Put your records to work

Records can earn their keep. Here are just a few of the ways to put them to work...

A key part of Corporate Social Responsibility

Caring for your heritage can be a key part of a Corporate Social Responsibility policy. Businesses have impacted on the lives of their staff, customers, shareholders and on the communities in which they operate. Business archives record how lives have been affected and changed. Some companies have publicly acknowledged that their own histories are an important piece in the jigsaw of the past and that they have a duty of care to their own archives. Making business archives accessible to the public is a real contribution to the community.

Case study:BT's heritage policy

Transparent corporate governance

Good record-keeping is an integral part of transparent corporate governance. The implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US has brought heightened scrutiny of an organisation's internal controls and practices. Trustworthy and accurate records serve as a bedrock for a company's reporting systems and ensure that they comply with best practice.

Brand building

The past can be used to support present performance. Archives add detail and depth to the public image of a company, differentiating it from the competition. Celebrating significant anniversaries or birthdays brings the long-standing nature and the achievements of the company to the fore. Historic information and images can also be used to support particular brands emphasising their position in the market place.

Case study:The HSBC History Wall

Archives as evidence

Business archives contain evidence of past processes and procedures; actions and events; terms and conditions. Being able to produce the right records at the right time could be crucial in the court room. Company law and regulation also require certain records to be kept and from January 2005 the Freedom of Information Act may affect certain businesses.

A market for nostalgia

Exploiting your heritage can bring in revenue. Companies with well known advertising and packaging logos and images can licence their reproductions in all kinds of ways: the Guinness Toucan, Colman's mustard and Pears soap are just a few examples of well known images that bring in money for their owners.

Education, Education, Education

Archives can be used within a business to inform and educate new recruits about a company's history and successes and pass on company values and principles. Archives can also be used as an educational resource by learners of all ages - some companies have produced very popular and highly regarded educational resources aimed at schoolchildren.

Case study: The Memory Store