The Business Case for Being a Responsible Business

By Professor David Grayson, CBE and Stephen Howard Director Chief Executive Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility

The Business Case for Being a Responsible Business

The way we do business is changing. Customer needs and demands are developing. Emerging technologies are enabling new ways of working. Supply chains are shifting and new markets are opening up. A more deeply connected generation is emerging. Knowing more about the world presents enormous opportunity, especially for business.

What is needed is a form of capitalism that is driven by businesses which not only think about the short term returns but also about building longer term sustainable businesses that create economic, environmental and social value – what McKinsey & Co call ‘long-term capitalism’. To ensure viable and sustainable businesses in a more responsible – and low carbon – economy, we need to increase the speed and scale of change towards responsible business and operate in a more connected way. This means ensuring that responsible business is at the heart of all aspects of business operations and business models, and not just a preoccupation of one department. And it means new connections and partnerships that will help businesses take a more joined-up approach to their activities.

Responsible business is not a trade-off between people, planet and profit – companies should be expanding the connections between societal and economic progressiand looking at innovative ways to integrate responsible business practices into their core practices. A divide is emerging between those that embrace sustainability-driven strategy and management, and those that don’t. ii These ‘embracers’ are the businesses that will survive and thrive and to help those currently at an earlier stage of the journey, we need to provide the proof – the argument and numbers – that show why and how responsible business practices build successful organisations, to help them define those materially relevant to them.

For this report we have researched and compiled the most up-to-date data on what the business benefits are for being a responsible business today, and predict what the benefits will be tomorrow. This will help organisations and individuals understand what areas of operations they can look at to assess their societal, economic and environmental impact, how to gather support for building a responsible business, and why being a responsible business is not only the right choice, it’s the sustainable choice.

Business in the Community (BITC) stands for responsible business. It is a business-led charity with a growing membership of 850 companies, from large multinational household names to small local businesses and public sector organisations. We advise, support and challenge members to create a sustainable future for people and the planet and to improve business performance. The Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, an innovative centre based at Cranfield School of Management, combines knowledge with action for business sustainability through our teaching, research and advisory work. BITC and the Doughty Centre are delighted to collaborate on this project.

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