Let's make the North East the UK's most responsible business community

Posted on the 16 May 2016

Let's make the North East the UK's most responsible business community

While undeniably important, the single intention of business has never been to simply make money. 

Take some of the world’s leading tech companies for example. Google, Apple and Microsoft’s founders did not start out with the sole intention of making billions, and now their combined value is well over a trillion dollars. Instead, they intended to build organisations that would break the mould and change opinions. With a larger social purpose behind what they do, albeit in different ways, they were all driven forward by putting the needs of their customers first. 

In reality profit tends to be the result, rather than the purpose of a successful enterprise. A great business should be about creating customer value, making something better and empowering people to get the best out of themselves and their colleagues. 

It’s more than CSR

Many organisations support good causes and allow employees to engage in charitable work, bringing a number of benefits to the public and business itself. Being truly responsible is much more than this; it’s thinking smartly around how you go about making money. 

Companies with a conscience place value at the heart of everything they do, including how they manage supply chains and recruit, retain and develop staff. They take care to consider the way they treat the planet and connect with the communities that give them their licence to operate.

By crafting carefully considered schemes, they are able to find a multitude of ways to marry doing good with doing well, shaping how they engage in the big issues of today - like education, employment, enterprise and culture - to give themselves a commercial edge.

What do you do that really matters?

Entrepreneurs’ Forum members were recently inspired to think responsibly at an event with Stephen Howard (BITC), Brian Manning (Esh Group) and Peter Walls (formerly Gentoo). 

Throughout an evening spent discussing how sustainable businesses, like sustainable communities, should be built upon principals of social justice and environmental stewardship, the three chief executives challenged North East business owners to consider what it is they do that really matters.

With the belief that once they have achieved a relative level of financial success, business leaders have more opportunity than most to change their way of thinking about success toward significance, Stephen Howard asked the questions we would now like to ask you: What is it that you do that really matters? How do you make a difference to others? And in what way do you describe what you do to your family and friends?

We’re stronger together

Long-term success and more positive attitudes towards business can only come from putting values and social good at the heard of entrepreneurship. Open, transparent organisations that treat their customers and staff with respect, and support their communities can gain a competitive advantage by doing so.

The business case for behaving sensibly is blindingly obvious and, living in an area that often struggles to compete financially with other regions, becoming the most responsible business community in the UK could offer the North East the competitive advantage we need.

After all, if the true definition of success is measured by the men and women who work hard and dream big, love their families, serve their neighbours, give people a chance, make a difference and connect and create opportunities, then we have those by the score.

This is something we would all love to see and influencing our success is a role the region’s business owners can play. The character of the people in the North East is our finest asset and if we can mobilise it in a smart and responsible way, then we will not only drive our economy forward, but also stand out as the great place to live and work that we truly are.