First Study In Scotland Throws Light On Responsible Businesses Practices

accompanying image(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The face of business in Scotland is changing, as companies recognise that the traditional idea that business is simply about making money no longer holds true. Especially, as the public is more ethically motivated and less tolerant of corporate negligence and corrupt practices, and that people are more likely to admire, work for, buy from and support companies that they believe share their own values. This thinking is now confirmed by Better Business, a new Scottish study into responsible business practices, and the first of its kind in Scotland. It was conducted by Social Value Lab and delivered in partnership with social enterprise development agency Firstport, CEIS, and the Scottish Business Awards.

The research included a nationwide survey of over 1,000 businesses of all shapes and sizes across Scotland, in-depth interviews with 34 business leaders and CEOs, and detailed case studies illustrating good practice. Researchers analysed the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and reporting practices among Scotland’s 500 leading companies, which showed that over half (52 percent) of the business leaders agreed there was a clear business case for investing in community, social and environmental issues. However, almost a third (29 percent) felt the sole responsibility of companies was to maximise profit. Nine in 10 Scottish companies (89 percent) felt they were delivering on their social and environmental responsibilities.

The study states that the larger the business, the more likely it is to formalise its commitment to CSR: 90 percent of Scotland’s largest companies are delivering well-publicised and resourced CSR programmes. They are more influenced by the interests of employees, public opinion and business image. As with social media, there is nowhere for businesses to hide – reputation is everything. The research shows what other-sized businesses are doing about CSR: 32 percent of small companies reported specific initiatives, rising to 62 percent for mid-sized companies.

Interestingly, and unfortunately, one of the conclusions that the study draws is that there is still a long way to go in areas such as representation of women in senior positions and involving staff in decision-making. In Scotland’s top 500 companies, only 13 percent of all board posts are held by women; over half (56 percent) of the firms have none at all, and just four percent of CEOs are women.

Many businesses here are trying to do the right thing, but face intense competition, tight profit margins and the costs of meeting existing responsibilities – they struggle to dedicate the money or time to go further with their commitments. Now, this study gives a realistic picture of CSR in Scotland and erases the myths. The bottom line is that Scottish businesses must be motivated by more than the financial results if they are to help build a fairer and greener Scotland. 

Photo Credit: Ethical Performance