Press release

Corporate responsibility is at the heart of successful businesses - Willott

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Government has today (4 April 2014) published its response to a Call for Views on corporate responsibility from last year.

During the course of Responsible Business Week, government has today (4 April 2014) published its response to a Call for Views on corporate responsibility from last year (2013).

The Business Minister Jenny Willott today (4 April 2014) confirmed that government received 152 responses from businesses and civil society to the document. The Call for Views exercise has given government a better understanding of the importance of corporate responsibility to sustainable growth and helped inform current thinking.

The publication coincides with Responsible Business Week, led by Business in the Community, which brings together businesses, innovators and contributors from around the world through events, debates and online activity.

Business Minister Jenny Willott said:

Corporate responsibility is a key ingredient of a stronger, sustainable economy. Many UK based companies are leading the way by putting this at the heart of their business plans and we’ve moved on from the days when it was simply philanthropic work.

Not only can it improve productivity by helping companies attract and retain the best staff, but it can also build trust with investors and consumers, boosting their reputation. For that reason it really is a win-win for business.

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said:

The 2014 Corporate Responsibility Index shows us that companies are making real progress to integrate responsibility throughout their operations. We know that companies are now increasingly discussing corporate responsibility at board level, transforming company culture through embedding corporate responsibility into training, and unlocking innovative products and services by looking ahead to the long-term challenges and opportunities of responsible business.

I therefore welcome the Department for Business’s (BIS) recognition of corporate responsibility during Responsible Business Week and how corporate responsibility can be a driver of long term sustainable growth. This shift within companies is being driven by a new tranche of responsible leaders that understand the new contract now required between business and society to drive change.

The government response also showed that:

  • companies are going beyond legal requirements to manage and enhance economic, environmental and societal impacts
  • corporate responsibility is most effective when part of a strategic and responsible approach to driving long term success
  • the exact approach businesses take varies and is influenced by factors such as business size, sector and location
  • established standards and guidance are already being used by companies and the role of government is not to issue more

The government response provides further information on Trading for Good and Business in the Community where examples and advice on how businesses can engage on corporate responsibility can be found.

Examples which BIS has noted of businesses leading the way include:

  • O2 has linked up with Bauer Media to help give young people a better chance of getting into work. The 2 have launched GoThinkBig, an online resource designed to open up opportunities and create a community of people trying to develop their skills, employability and readiness for work
  • Jaguar Land Rover has a national education initiative to encourage more students to consider an engineering career. This is inspiring a new generation of much-needed engineers and technologists, with more than 2 million young people taking part since the programme launched
  • Carillion took on more than 6,000 local people to build a new ‘super-hospital’ in Bristol – 80% of all the construction workers on the project. The developer also sourced 2 thirds of its building materials from within the city and south-west region

Notes to editors

  1. The response and Call for Views can be found here The Call for Views was issued on 27 June 2013 and ran for 3 months.

  2. Global initiatives that set out the definition of corporate responsibility and guidance on its application include the UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises on Social Policy (ILO MNE Declaration), and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

  3. The UN Global Compact is 1 initiative that businesses committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption can sign up to. Endorsed by chief executives, the Global Compact is a practical framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices

4.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.