From Policy to Practice Jenny Herrera, CEO, Good Business Charter
In January 2022 the Institute of Directors published a policy paper on ‘EGS Priorities for UK Companies 2022’ with the headline that ESG is not a fad but an urgent business priority.
Dr Roger Barker shared how “a strong ESG profile is attractive to potential investors, lenders, employees and customers, and helps build the brand of the organisation. Conversely, weak ESG performance is a red flag”.
I had the privilege of meeting with Roger shortly after his paper was published to present the detail of our framework for precisely this: a strong ESG profile. The Good Business Charter sets out minimum standards in 10 areas of business behaviour: real living wage, fairer hours and contracts, employee wellbeing, employee representation, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility, paying fair tax, commitment to customers, ethical sourcing, and prompt payment to suppliers.
As businesses look around them and wonder how they are going to bring an effective focus on ESG that can be clearly articulated internally to employees and externally to customers, we believe the GBC provides the solution. Indeed, we have had businesses from a variety of sectors and sizes, as well as charities and public sector organisations, share with us how useful the GBC has been when talking about how they care for people and planet in practical terms.
The GBC provides a strong social focus in the ESG space which has been lacking to date. With the recent P&O scandal and the cost of living crisis threatening to bring real hardship to the lowest paid, off the back of a long overdue appreciation of key workers such as supermarket stackers and delivery drivers during the pandemic, it is high time businesses put employees first. The GBC provides a helpful way to structure that shift in focus.
The IoD is not an organisation to only write about the importance of responsible business behaviour. They have put policy into practice and achieved GBC accreditation, becoming our 1,000th organisation to do so. Director General, Jon Geldart, said on joining:
We look forward to developing our partnership with the IoD as together we champion responsible business behaviour. Unconvinced? Schroders Personal Wealth’s recently published Responsible Business Report provides a great example of a company taking our framework and setting out their progress and ambition for each component. Others tell us how useful it is when submitting tenders to have achieved a third-party accreditation that brings together such a range of commitments to people and planet in such clear terms.
We were recently in a meeting where there was a comment that if you took two similar companies, one GBC, the other not, you could not deduce that the company who was not GBC accredited was not operating to the same principles, or was in comparison bad. True – but why not ask them to join – it is free for the first year after all – and if they decline, then perhaps there is a distinction to be made after all. That’s certainly been our experience to date!
To find out more about the Good Business Charter please see: www.goodbusinesscharter.com