Reputation is everything, so how can you build and enhance that of your business and drive further growth and profitability?
From banks to coffee shops, book stores to meat processors, businesses are being increasingly scrutinised not just for their financial performance but whether they are responsible corporate citizens. Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer just for the large businesses but even the smallest local business can enhance and demonstrate its good business citizenship and, in so doing, enhance and grow customer base and improve efficiencies, save costs and, hence, improve profitability.
The following article is based on material provided by ORB, The Organization for Responsible Business, and the associatedResponsible Business Standard.
Demonstrating your business is a RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS is an essential element of standing out from the crowd, maintaining competitive advantage, and winning private and public sector contracts.
What is a responsible business?
A responsible business operates efficiently and ethically; meets and exceeds legislation; and always considers its impact on people (the workforce, the community and society at large) and the environment.
We would like to emphasise: the Organisation for Responsible Businesses is very much pro-business. It believes it is essential that businesses are profitable and ensuring this must be the first responsibility. But profitability should not override all other considerations. “How” profits are made is extremely important and therein lies the key to other areas of responsibility that should never be overlooked.
Business responsibility is often known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Corporate Responsibility (CR). Throughout the world, CSR has many definitions with some describing it as a more philanthropic activity. The definition used in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development publication “Making Good Business Sense” by Lord Holme and Richard Watts is perhaps one of the most widely used and accepted: “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.”
Note the inclusion of “contribute to economic development.” It is also evident from the publication that genuine business responsibility is not a bolt on activity; it should be at the very heart of how a business operates to be really effective.
RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS = PROFITABLE BUSINESS
ORB uses the phrase “People, Planet, Profit” as part of its signature because it embodies this approach to running a business.
How can you demonstrate to staff, customers, suppliers, competitors and other stakeholders that your business is a responsible business?
The Responsible Business Standard
The Standard has been developed by the Organisation for Responsible Businesses (ORB). It is designed specifically for SMEs and is available at three levels: bronze, silver and gold.
To achieve the accreditation, a certified ORB Auditor will visit your premises and conduct an audit. As The Standard is designed specifically for SMEs, you will find it is affordable, attainable, and of value both internally and externally.
How will The Standard be of value to your business?
- Internally it will become a driver for best practice helping to attract, retain and motivate employees; reduce overheads; and increase operating efficiency.
- Externally it will increase the reputation of the company by demonstrating to all stakeholders that the company is transparent, ethical and considerate of their responsibility to society.
- Throughout the supply chain questions are increasingly being asked relating to social and environmental practices. If a business cannot satisfy those questions they will not gain / maintain contracts.
- In the procurement process businesses need to satisfy specific criteria. Much of this is covered in The Standard. A tender application to any organisation but particularly at local authority level is more likely to be successful if the company has third party certification to demonstrate they have met the required criteria.
- The Standard is an indication that the business is playing a pro-active role in combating the challenges society currently faces – something all business owners should be very proud of!
The Standard is available at three levels:
bronze, silver and gold.
To achieve The Standard at any level a certified ORB Auditor will attend the business premises and conduct an audit. The Standard covers a wide remit including the social and environmental agenda, but essentially this is embraced in best practice, systems and continual development. It is, of course, essential that businesses meet legislative requirements but ticking the compliance boxes alone is insufficient
To attain The Responsible Business Standard you will need to evidence that your business: “Operates efficiently and ethically; meets and exceeds legislation; and always considers its impact on people (the workforce, the community and society at large) and the environment.”
What it covers:
The following is an outline of what the audit will cover remembering that in each area, where appropriate, this will include meeting legislation, good practice over and above being compliant, and ongoing development.
- HR and Health & Safety legislation
- Employee wellbeing
- Employee engagement
- Equality and Diversity
- Environmental legislation
- Environmental policies and procedures
- Commitment to reducing environmental impact
- Legislation e.g. Trading Standards requirements
- Process, standards and stakeholder engagement
- Supply chain activities
- Awareness of local issues
- Supporting and engaging with the local community
Ethics, Values & Transparency
- You will need to demonstrate that ethics, values and transparency is embedded in your business ethos: once again, meeting legislative criteria alone is not sufficient for a company to be accredited.
- Passing this section is only a requirement for attaining The Responsible Business Standard at Gold Level. However, we recommend this is considered at all levels. At bronze and silver levels a failure in this section would not adversely affect the overall level of attainment.
- Demonstrating appropriate procedures, systems and other precautionary measures are in place to ensure your business is sustainable even under adverse circumstances is particularly important when bidding / tendering for contracts.
- Assessing business continuity plans is also a very important exercise for internal purposes e.g. what would happen if your business premises burnt down overnight? Would your business be able to continue? How quickly could it recover?
For more information about the RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS STANDARD contact:
Richard Jefferies on tel: 01242 421000 x 2, mob: 07970 256198