New Research Puts Ethical Business Centre-Stage

We were very interested to see this recent research from Opinium and Anthony Collins Solicitors – it is of course music to our ears!  91% of UK businesses are committed to becoming ethical, representing a profound shift in how UK businesses are operating, and the research draws out some of the ways they are seeking to do just that.

It follows major concerns from business leaders over their market reputation and financial results should their business not take steps towards better addressing the treatment of staff, suppliers and customers, as well as their impact on the environment and society.

Key findings

  • 91% of businesses adopting ethical practices, or committing to becoming ethical
  • Covid-19 and climate change increasing pressure on 78% of businesses
  • Risk to market reputation was revealed as the main concern (45%) for businesses
  • A third shared plans to address the ethnic (38%) or gender diversity (33%) of their workforce
  • 36% were aiming to improve staff welfare, engagement or employee ownership
  • Similar number prioritising tackling climate change (36%)
  • Two in five businesses admit that it is financially unviable to change for the better
  • Leaders also pointed to a lack of guidance from the UK Government (36%)

The Covid-19 pandemic and climate change were identified as key drivers of this change, increasing pressure on 78% of businesses to demonstrate more positive values. Over half of the business leaders surveyed (65%) stated that the Black Lives Matter movement was having a similar effect.

Reputation is greatest commercial fear driving change

Risk to market reputation was revealed as the main concern (45%) for leaders should their business not take steps towards addressing the treatment of staff, suppliers and customers, as well as their impact on the environment and society. This was followed by recruitment difficulties (36%) with a third (33%) also forecasting a negative financial impact.

These findings show a heightened awareness among business leaders about the commercial implications of not becoming more ethical – leaving companies open to public and legal scrutiny. A total of 90% predicted a negative impact on their business as a result of not prioritising ethical factors such as the environment or equality in the workplace.

Our Response

We are delighted to hear of this heightened awareness and believe that the Good Business Charter is perfectly placed to act as a framework for businesses as they assess their practices and seek to ensure they are responsible and do care for employees, suppliers, customers and the environment alongside a commitment to paying fair tax.

As organisations seek to prioritise their ethical business practices, the very BIG question we have is that how will people on the outside know they are doing that?  How does Joe Public know which businesses are on the journey and which don’t give a damn?

Good Business Charter accreditation provides the solution to this conundrum with the GBC logo a badge therefore which recognises an organisation’s commitments to our 10 components.  We would encourage all businesses downloading The Ethical Business Project’s handbook to consider our accreditation as an outward mark of their commitment to responsible business behaviour.  Free for the first year and nominal charges in future years there is a great opportunity to not just do the right thing but shout about it also … and it will send the vast majority of the public who care about this to your door!