By Amanda MacKenzie, Chief Executive, Business in the Community — Business comes in for a lot of criticism, from excessive executive pay to how much corporation tax is paid, and there is a feeling that business should more accountable and trustworthy, the lack of which arguably contributed to some people’s decision to vote leave in the referendum last year.
But behind every seemingly faceless corporation are real people, working to make a difference to their communities, employees, the environment and society as a whole.
This week is Responsible Business Week, a yearly awareness campaign showcasing the work of companies that are having a positive impact on society.
Responsible Business Week aims to inspire and motivate more businesses to be part of addressing the world’s most pressing issues, and to tell their responsible business story to customers, employees and stakeholders. It is a great moment to raise the flag on UK business, and reflect on who we are, what we are about and recognise how business endeavours to create change.
By showing the brighter side to business, a side that the public rarely see, the week is a great opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes to showcase initiatives, projects, programmes, products and services that demonstrate a true commitment to building a better, fairer and more sustainable society.
This week British businesses will get involved in shining a light on their contribution. London City Airport is running an open day where passengers with hidden disabilities can experience how it is to travel through the airport. IBM and the charity Stop the Traffic will run an event showcasing how technology can put an end to human slavery. Portsmouth University is running an event for young people, helping them to understand career their options, and Veolia, our Responsible Business of the year will bring a group of senior leaders out into the community to explore how business can make a difference.
Hundreds of other companies will pledge to donate skills, tell their customers about responsible business through social media and marketing, publish their annual CR reports and attend events, workshops, debates and much more – all so they can do even more, for the benefit of us all.
There has never been a greater need for business to act responsibly because technology is rapidly disrupting how they operate which will have huge implications for the business models of the future. With dire predictions of automation leading to the loss of millions of jobs, society is grappling with how to reap the economic benefits of digital transformation and simultaneously mitigate the unintended consequences of change. If we don’t come up with answers, we are in danger of seeing communities feel further alienated.
Over the past year Business in the Community has been exploring how to; ensure business continues to place responsibility at the heart of the transformation that is taking place; adapt to a digital world and create a digital revolution that enables people to participate equally.
This week we are bringing businesses together to launch a set of priorities for responsible business in a digital age. They will offer business a new way to consider how they create products and services that serve society as well as the bottom line, embrace the changing nature of work and employment, protect, support and empower their customers and ensure that their supply chain is inclusive and transparent.
While businesses takes time out to celebrate their positive contribution this week, we also call on the people within them to help us create a fairer society by ensuring that the digital age is human.
Responsible Business Week runs from 24-28 April. Share your responsible business news with the hashtag #RBWeek