The Business Case for Ethics and Responsibility
The business of being in business is hard work – so why would you go and make it even harder by trying to make your business mindful of ethics and responsibility?
This is a question we at ORB get asked a lot! And we understand why some people look at the idea of ensuring their business operates in an ethical and responsible manner as just a whole load of extra complexity and hard work in their already frantic working lives. We even had one business executive tell us “I’m just in business for the profits”
We thanked him for his honesty at least! And of course, we’re not naïve, we understand that business is about producing a cash-surplus such that the business owners can be sustained in their needs and their desired lifestyle.
But we also passionately believe that this particular business exec was missing out. That with small, pragmatic, practical and often very simple changes in our approach to how we do business we can produce fantastic returns on the investment. That acting ethically and responsibly can make your business a better, more profitable and sustainable business.
The fact that running business in this way also feels extremely good and does good for the people the business touches and the planet is the delicious icing on the ethical cake.
But please, don’t just take our word for it – there is plenty of research and resources out there that definitively prove that operating your business in a responsible manner will pay long-term dividends to your brand-value and (more importantly) your bottom line.
Take an ORB Members Example:
Harris Global have been ORB members since 2014. They’re a recruitment company – but one with a key edge. They deliver bespoke workforce-solutions to high-growth companies, but they do it with a difference! As Alan Feast, a Director of Harris Global says “it is fair to say that the recruitment industry at large generally suffers from an attitude that staff members are a resource that should be ‘squeezed’ and made to ‘sweat’ in order to deliver the recruitment sales targets. But the team here at Harris Global feel passionately that it shouldn’t be like that”.
Because of the directors’ beliefs – that acting in an ethical and responsible manner is absolutely key to successful business – every possible aspect of the company’s operations is focussed upon nurturing and fostering long-term employee partnership and involvement. As well as meaning that Harris Global is a lovely place to work where the employees feel their input is both valuable and valued it also means that the directors have achieved considerable cost-savings and risk-reduction within the business.
How? Well here’s one example. Much of the recruitment industry suffers from staff churn rates of up to 45% per annum and sometimes more. Think about that. Nearly half of your staff will leave you within the next 12 months. And you’ll have to work hard to find replacements, train these replacements, reform the client-relationships that those ex-staff members had developed, even work hard to protect those clients from disappearing with those ex-staff members! That’s a considerable amount of management time and effort and cost! And think about it from this angle; how much happier would you be as a consumer of the recruitment company’s services if you knew their excellent reputation in looking after their staff.
Harris Global have tackled this issue right at the root and have reduced their employee churn to a single digit figure. And this is all attributed to the directors’ sense of humanity being made manifest within their ethical business practices and treatment of their team.
Still Want More Proof?
Neilsen’s latest published research into CSR leads with the following headline: “…brands that demonstrate commitment to sustainability outperform those that don’t”
The research data by Neilsen shows a clear link between doing good for the community and doing well with consumers:
• In the past year alone, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability have grown more than 4% globally*, while those without grew less than 1%.
• Sixty-six percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands—up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013
As Carol Gstalder, SVP, Reputation & Public Relations Solutions at Neilson states “…brands that haven’t embraced sustainability are at risk on many fronts. Social responsibility is a critical part of proactive reputation management. And companies with strong reputations outperform others when it comes to attracting top talent, investors, community partners, and most of all consumers.”
Make 2017 the year when you embrace this effective business benefit
At ORB we know that the number of people factoring in a business’s approach to business as a decision factor in whether to buy from them versus another is growing. For example, we see this just in the enquiries we get and the growth in visits to our Responsible Business Directory web page.
As Neilsen puts it “Consumers are trying to be responsible citizens of the world, and they expect the same from corporations. So, when it comes to purchasing, they are doing their homework. Checking labels before buying. Looking at web sites for information on business and manufacturing practices. Paying attention to public opinion on specific brands in the news or on social media.”
Here at ORB, we help SME businesses make their impact on the world, the communities they operate in and the people they work with as positive and sustainable as is practically and sensibly possible. It would be lovely to be able to help your business too.
To find out about becoming a member of ORB call us on 03302 231361 or email Info@Orbuk.org