Are companies working towards a fairer Scotland?

Are companies working towards a fairer Scotland?
The Scotsman, by Gareth Mackie


A new research project is being launched to find out if businesses are doing their bit to help create a fairer society.


The study, billed as the first of its kind in Scotland, will examine whether public and government hopes have been translated into changed practices and how companies can be supported to maximise their social and environmental value.


Research body Social Value Lab, which specialises in ethically responsible business, is conducting the project with support from Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for social entrepreneurs and start-up social enterprises.


Social Value Lab director Jonathan Coburn said: “This research will tell us where business is coming from on taking their wider ethical, social and environmental responsibilities seriously.


“We’ve heard talk about corporate social responsibility (CSR) for the last three decades. Small family businesses already have it as part of their DNA, while a growing number of CEOs of larger corporates are recognising the challenges and are trying to push the needle.”


The report, called Better Business, Better Scotland, will be launched to almost 2,000 political and business leaders at the Scottish Business Awards in November. It will draw on an online consultation, case studies and in-depth interviews with business leaders including Martin Dorchester, chief executive of ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne.


Dorchester said: “Many private companies see shareholder return as their reason for being. They can’t see a financial return on investing in the community.


“We need to change this perspective if we want to build a fairer society – delivering profits and short-term commercial success isn’t enough on its own.”


Firstport chief executive Karen McGregor added: “We are committed to promoting socially responsible business in Scotland and encouraging the private sector to look at how they can work alongside social enterprises,for example involving them as suppliers, as well as learning from the good practice in the sector.”