Published on in Responsible Business

The corporate world is changing. It’s no longer enough for companies to simply chase profit at the cost of everything else. Everyone – employees and consumers alike – expects more from the modern organisation.

As somebody who went through the Fujitsu apprentice scheme, I’ve experienced first-hand the impact a business can have when it gives something back to the community. In my case it was giving a young person the opportunity to get onto the career ladder.

So when I saw Fujitsu launched a poll, Winning the right way, which asks under-25s their opinions on responsible business, I jumped at the chance to have my say.

In this post I want to explain why this area is so important to young people like me, what the results mean so far, and why you should have your say too.

What does ‘responsible business’ mean?

BITC Responsible Business of the Year planter logoIn briefest terms, it means every action a company takes should be done in a thoughtful, ethical way. When Fujitsu won BITC’s Responsible Business of the Year 2015, it was largely down to our belief in sustainability and using technology as a force for good – a key driver behind our global megatrends initiative and our Technology and Service Vision around Human Centric Innovation.

Responsible business is about collectively working together to make the world we live in a better place, and giving something back to communities and individuals who need it.

Most businesses today do behave responsibly, and our survey results seem to reflect that, with 78% of respondents believing their organisation achieves the right balance between profits and ethical behaviour. But it’s important that it doesn’t become a PR exercise – something companies do just to get that box ‘ticked’.

Talented people care about ethics

Looking at the results of our survey so far, more than three-fifths (62%) of respondents consider an employer’s responsible approach before applying for a role.

This is huge. By being unwilling or unable to behave responsibly, companies will be turning off young workers. And in the increasingly competitive fight for talent, this is not a mistake firms can afford to make.

Young people heading into the workplace are not naive – they know that if a business behaves irresponsibly then it’s likely this will be reflected in the way it treats its staff. Many also won’t want to be associated with a brand that is seen to do business in a damaging, unethical way.

And if that’s how potential employees feel, customers will likely share similar views.

Still some work to do

While the results of the survey have mostly been positive so far (78% think their organisation achieves the right balance between profits and ethical behaviour), one particular finding is quite worrying:

More than a quarter (27%) believe their company would ask them to compromise on being ethical and responsible. When so much progress has been made, it’s sad to know that certain employers still don’t see the value in behaving responsibly. As Duncan Tait said in his recent blog post, responsible business can lead not just to a more sustainable future, but to real business growth.

My advice to anyone who has been put in that awkward position is this: if, for ethical reasons, you don’t believe in doing something your company has asked of you, then you simply shouldn’t do it. Ultimately it could reflect negatively on you, so the best approach is to raise it with the relevant person.

Have your say…

If you’re under 25 and have an opinion on responsible business, whatever it might be, we want to hear your views.

Take our short survey today. It only takes a few minutes, and we’ll donate £1 to Action for Children for each of the first 1,000 responses!

If you want to know more about this topic, I’ll be attending the BITC Responsible Business Gala on 11th July. Please do come along for a chat.

My colleagues from Fujitsu will also be exhibiting some of the digital technologies we’ve developed to address the megatrends impacting the world we live in. Come see how Fujitsu is enabling digital for the benefit of society.

Kate Overman
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Kate Overman

Business Consultant at Fujitsu
Kate Overman
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