The changing face of business

The sustainability and ethical practices of businesses are changing. Consumers are now expecting sustainability to appear within a company’s core model and also that companies will invest more both inside and outside of the company.

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In comparison, the ethics of business are constantly evolving, especially as confidence in institutions is at an all time low, with consumers expecting to see an improvement in the behaviour and culture of businesses.

As a result, several outcomes are available for companies. One such outcome is the implementation of special board committees to deal with questions around corporate responsibility, sustainability and ethics. This would account for the shifting perceptions of risk and can be used to reduce the work of the audit committee and identify, on behalf of the board, problems and patterns of behaviour which may indicate risk. Whilst not appropriate for every company, a survey conducted by ICSA and Mazars have found that 55 companies of the FTSE 350 have set up committees with published terms of reference, with a further two that haven’t published.

Alternatively, companies may choose to seek certification from recognised bodies such as B Corp. Founded in 2006, the movement launched in the UK in September 2015 and is set to continue the impressive work set by its American counterpart. As a non profit organisation, the company certifies businesses who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. To date the organisation has recognised 1,619 corporations in 47 countries throughout 130 industries, with brands such as Etsy and Ben & Jerry's being part of the movement and multi-national companies such as Unilever in talks with B Corp.

The heightened expectations of consumers for both sustainability and ethical practices have meant that companies have had to start to adapt or will in the near future. Ensuring these changes have been well explained and transparent will be a difficult task, balancing potentially new policies, with new roles and new demands. To find out more about how we can help communicate your key messages to your stakeholders, why not get in touch with a member of our team?