Many of Greater Manchester’s good employers live and breathe their corporate values. They set out a caring and responsible attitude to their employees and supply chains. Many go further, acknowledging their wider responsibility to the communities around them and the environment – understanding the bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Our last Supporters Network Event explored how organisations can develop their broader corporate responsibilities. Our panel consisted of John Quinton-Barber, Founder at Social, Alice Kinder, Solicitor at Anthony Collins and Courtney Lockyer, Corporate Responsibility Assistant Manager at KPMG. This blog contains key guidance from the event in a summarised form – with a list of resources and the full video recording to explore these steps in more detail.
Why should organisations develop ethical approaches?
More than ever, businesses are under pressure to demonstrate positive values. The human and economic disruption of Covid-19, combined with a rising climate crisis, and a strong focus on inequalities brought about by the Black Lives Matter movement, have put organisations under a microscope.
Under this, both consumers and colleagues are looking more at how businesses treat their staff, supply chains, and the environment. Organisations that don’t regard these factors as important, or who aren’t making positive changes, risk suffering major reputational damage, financial loss, and issues with staff motivation and retention.
What steps need to be taken?
Whilst research indicates that 61% of organisations are committed to being an ethical business – just 30% are taking steps to become one (Anthony Collins Solicitors).
Being a responsible business means more than the legal minimum when it comes to ethical employment. Of course, businesses have to adhere to employment legislation, but being a Good Employer means going further than what is required. It's important to consider aspects of ethical practice that are outside of legislation – for example, socioeconomic background is not named as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act, and yet discrimination on this basis cannot be ignored.
Self-evaluation of your organisation combined with employee engagement surveys can help to assess which goals should be set, and can be a standpoint to then measure ethical success. These goals should then be sought at all times – with the questions “How are we representing our values? Is what we’re doing having the effect we want?” integral in decision making.
This process is about more than measuring statistics. For example, an organisation highlighting that at least 20% of their workforce should be from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds is important – but isn’t enough. Going further and assessing inclusivity, and how your organisation encourages people from diverse backgrounds to feel at work, is a vital aspect of assessing the social impact of decisions.
To create more widespread change in thought across your organisation, focus first on engaging with staff that are open to championing this positive change. These people can then act as internal ambassadors, securing support further across the business. To make lasting change, you need to be in it for the long-term, and at every step ensure that social needs are aligning with business benefits.
Support and Resources
To go further into social and environmental impact, look into how B-Corp can help your organisation address its impact on workers, customers, the community, and the environment in our recent blog with Pentameter.
For information about investigating supply chains, the Slave Free Alliance are working with employers to reduce corporate involvement in modern slavery.
Find resources mentioned in the Webinar below, alongside the full slide deck full of key research from Anthony Collins Solicitors and KPMG, and the video recording.
- YouTube Recording: Responsible Business Webinar
- Supporters Network Webinar: Slide Deck
- Anthony Collins Solicitors: The Ethical Business Project Handbook (aimed at supporting businesses at varying stages of taking on a more values-based approach)
- KPMG: Guide to Diagnosing and Defining Responsible Growth (frameworks to develop sustainable business model)
- Social Communications: Life Happens (Social's approach to people-focused company initiatives)