Where do we start? What matters to me and my company? These are common questions when starting out on a responsible business journey. In this article we’ll try to get to the bottom of what Australian companies consider to be the responsible business priorities for the year ahead.
In the first article of this series exploring ACCSR’s 2015 State of CSR report we looked at the 3 stages of development of responsible businesses; from ‘Initiators’ to ‘Integrators’ and onwards to becoming strategically driven ‘Innovators’. Here, we lay out the priorities for the year ahead for businesses at each of these stages of maturity and break it down for small businesses.
The single biggest priority for companies surveyed for this report (regardless of their responsible business maturity) was stakeholder engagement. We’re not going to get in to the nitty gritty of what this means here (there are many other resources available, like this neat summary from SME Toolkit), but we like to think of it as identifying and listening to the people, organisations and environment around us, that our businesses touch. Where do we intersect with society and the environment?
Your responsible business priorities will depend on how far along the journey you are. But listening to your stakeholders is a great place to start.
Remaining priorities were influenced by how far companies were along their journey, with Innovators (those organisations furthest down the path) being more likely to be focused on complex social and environmental problems, and global challenges. The systems that these businesses have put in place, as they’ve moved from initiators to integrators and now to budding innovators, enable them to develop strategic programs aiming to address poverty, economic inequality and human rights issues. There are some wonderful examples of smaller companies, such as Streat and All Good Organics, who have built innovative responsible business models, as well as the behemoths we all know about, like Patagonia, Unilever and IAG.
For organisations that are initiating their Good Business strategies and those who are already integrating these strategies into everyday business, the main issues are building internal understanding, environmental impacts, promoting diversity and staying on top of regulations.
If you run a small business then perhaps issues like internal communication and diversity within your organisation don’t hit home as much as keeping it legal and environmental challenges, but these issues are still relevant within your value chain and suppliers. Taking a moment to review your stakeholders may be a great place to start. So who does your business ‘touch’?
It’s exciting to find these issues being addressed by Australian companies and supports our increasing feeling that Australian businesses are really seeing the value in being a responsible business. Now it’s time to start making some noise about it, and bring more along for the ride.