Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Rewarding corporate responsibilty and green policies

THE nebusiness awards 2008 showcase the strength and depth of business excellence in North East England, with 12 categories and many entrants competing for honours. This year the awards for Corporate Social Responsibility and Environment have been combined, making the new category of Corporate Responsibility and Environment a stern test for judges and entrants alike.

In 2007, SCA Hygiene Products UK won the Environment award with the Gentoo Group taking the Corporate Social Responsibility prize. The 2008 winners of the combined category will need to display their exemplary behaviour towards the environment, local community, their staff and supply chain.

Environmental development and corporate responsibility is high on the agenda of North East businesses and it is important that in challenging economic times we do not lose sight of the need to protect our communities and the environment.

Business Link, associate sponsors of the nebusiness awards 2008, have a full programme of advice and support that can help any business, regardless of size or sector, improve its corporate responsibility and environmental policies and set them on the path towards being a nebusiness awards winner.

Go to for more information about how Business Link can help your business improve its corporate responsibility and environmental policy or call 0845 600-9006.

Follow the advice below from Business Link’s Suzanne McCreedy, for an insight into the guidance Business Link can provide.

“Building a reputation as a responsible business sets you apart. Many consumers prefer to buy from ethical businesses and companies often favour suppliers who demonstrate responsible policies as this helps them to minimise the risk of any damage to their own reputations.

“Some customers don’t just prefer to deal with responsible companies, but insist on it. Sales of environmentally friendly products continue to grow – and these products often sell at a premium price.

“Many businesses could cut energy costs by over 10%, according to Carbon Trust estimates, with the total average annual saving for a small business maximising its reductions around £250, increasing to as much as £5,000 for larger employers.

“Examples of simple ways you can help the environment and your business by cutting costs, include getting staff to turn off equipment when not in use, switching to energy-efficient bulbs – a measure that can reduce lighting bills by up to 75% – and discussing options with your energy supplier about the products they have available to boost energy efficiency. If you work from home, insulating your property is one of the most effective ways to cut costs and could pay for itself in less than two years.

“Working with your local community brings a wide range of business benefits. For many businesses, local customers are an important source of sales. By improving your reputation, you may find it easier to recruit employees. A good relationship with local authorities can also make your business life much easier as local authorities may prefer to award contracts to businesses with a record of community involvement.

“There are many ways to get involved in your community. Some businesses choose to support a local charity, school or sports team, or sponsor a local event.

“It makes commercial sense to pursue activity related to your product and can be a productive way to generate publicity. This lets you use your expertise as well as showing the human face of your business. For example, some restaurants provide food to local homeless groups, while builders may give free labour and materials to community projects.

“Making provision for staff welfare and training is good for productivity and morale. A good reputation also makes it easier to recruit employees, who are then more likely to stay longer, reducing the costs and disruption of recruitment and retraining.

“A formal development review process is the best way to keep track of the skills and training possessed by staff at all levels in your business and putting procedures in place to help employees deal with stress is an important means of responding to problems such as smoking and increased alcohol consumption during busy periods.

“Good management can reduce work-related stress. Setting realistic targets and providing employees with training and opportunities for promotion can help to boost employee morale. You can’t eliminate stress altogether so it’s important that you learn to spot the symptoms and encourage employees to raise issues that are bothering them.

“Choosing your suppliers carefully can be an important part of your approach to corporate social responsibility. For example, you might try to use local suppliers as much as possible. This helps you support your community and also reduces the energy wasted in deliveries.

“Treat your suppliers fairly, particularly smaller businesses that rely on you. For example, being paid on time can make a big difference to them. Similarly, you should not abuse your position by taking advantage of a business that is relying on you to deal with them in an honest and fair way. While you might make a short-term gain at your supplier’s expense, your relationship will suffer. Squeezing too hard might even put your supplier out of business, leaving you both worse off.”

Business Link and the nebusiness awards 2008 recognise the importance of corporate and environmental responsibility, which is crucial to the development of the region’s businesses and communities. The measures outlined above cut across all aspects of commercial activity and can benefit business as much as the people they help. Business Link can provide impartial advice and support to North East businesses who want make a positive difference and take the first step towards becoming and a winner.

From Nebusiness

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