This is a guest blog by Stephen Howard – Chief Executive of Business in the Community
Marketers may have coined the term Blue Monday to mark the misery of January, but for me the beginning of the year is also defined by optimism and the shared sense of potential to do more – and achieve faster and deeper change then the year that preceded.
While it’s impossible, and perhaps unwise to predict the future, I am excited about the opportunity this year for business to raise its visibility as a driver of genuine, transformational change in society.
Interestingly, for the first time in recent memory, the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, published this month, suggests that trust levels have reached their highest level since the Great Recession, with business showing the most significant increase in public trust. Furthermore, 80% of those surveyed globally agree that business must lead in solving the pressing challenges facing society. I believe there is now a genuine opportunity for responsible businesses to build on this sense of public expectation and improving trust by taking practical actions to embed responsibility into their business model.
At Business in the Community, we’re privileged to work closely with many hundreds of businesses of all sizes, united by a shared ambition to create a fairer society and more sustainable future for us all. We have worked with, and been led by business for over 30 years. In that time, we have learnt that the most powerful catalyst to turn business ambition into action is collaboration – businesses working together to create solutions that benefit business and society. That is why Fujitsu is such an exciting partner for Business in the Community to work with. As 2015 Responsible Business of the year Fujitsu is actively helping us to grow the movement, engage many more businesses and create the groundswell of engagement within business that can only help to drive trust in the right direction and mend the trust divide
Fujitsu has planned an ambitious and exciting year of activity and action which will culminate at the Responsible Business Awards 2016 on 11 July in London. They are working with us to engage and inspire other Japanese owned companies about the power and potential of responsible behaviour for their businesses and supporting us to unlock the potential of technology to drive action and transform business.
We know that leadership is at the heart of growing the responsible business movement. Our ambition is to create a tipping point of businesses that align their action to purpose at all levels of business – from the CEO who sets the agenda, and influences values and culture, right through to the leaders bubbling up within the organisations who will ultimately shape the future survival of that business. One of the key challenges facing business leaders is how to inspire and involve these future leaders to ensure that a long term commitment to responsible business is front and centre of everything that business does. So I am especially encouraged that engaging future leaders is central to Fujitsu’s Responsible Business of the Year programme. Over 200 young people have participated in Fujitsu’s future leaders’ poll since it launched in December at Business in the Community’s Leadership Summit by Duncan Tait.
The early findings powerfully bring to life the changing priorities driving the next generation with 67% of those surveyed saying they would consider their employers responsible approach before considering a job role. This is one of many examples of responsible behaviour as a driver for business that goes far beyond philanthropy or traditional CSR to directly impact reputation and the ability of a brand to recruit the right people.
We look forward to together growing the movement and together proving that as well as being the right thing to do, responsible business is an enabler of business success.
Stephen Howard is Chief Executive of Business in the Community – a responsible business charity working with business to build a fairer society and more sustainable future. To find out more about Business in the Community visit www.bitc.org.uk
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