Briefing guide on the Responsible Business Standard: What is the Standard?
A national standard independently verifying best practice for business sustainability, environmental management and social responsibility. The Standard has received many accolades for the unique service it provides to small businesses, including support from the EU for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), Councils and trade bodies.
Why Should Business Report on Social and Environmental Issues?
Organisations are being increasingly required by law (Companies Act 2006) to ensure they meet specific standards in environmental and social governance. “Triple Bottom Line ESG” reporting (Environmental, Social and Economic Governance) is now a statutory requirement for public funded bodies, health, education, and PLC’s. In turn, small enterprises down the supply chain are being asked to demonstrate their social and environmental credentials. The UK Public Services (Social Value) Act March 2012 obliges public procurers to check all suppliers show evidence of environmental management and social value as a pre-qualification for a share of the UK public procurement budget worth over £100 Billion a year.
How does it work?
Any organisation can apply to attain the standard at any time without having to meet externally imposed deadlines. There are government grants and an affordable initial application fee. Most organisations already meet parts of the standard and an initial brief review formally recognises these successes. Organisations are invited to take a simple online questionnaire which acts as a quick SWOT analysis, providing immediate detailed responses and signposting where appropriate. A more detailed review also identifies how to meet the standard in full. If extra support is needed the Organisation for Responsible Businesses can recommend a qualified consultant with sector experience to advise an internal manager. The consultant will provide the best value options for low-cost implementation. When ready, applicants request an onsite assessment of their practices and processes, which typically takes half a day for smaller businesses. The assessor reports comprehensively on achievements and recommendations for ongoing sustainability.
It shows evidence of sustainable operations and business continuity against an approved national standard. It reduces risk of non-compliance with new Environment Laws. It improves opportunities to win tenders for corporate and public works. It uniquely includes both Environmental and Social Standards making it broader than other forms of certification, and it is less complex. It is tailored specifically for smaller organisations with 2 to 250 persons who are unable to divert financial and technical resources to meet other standards e.g. BS8555, ISO 14001, 6000, 25999, 22301. Those who have other standards can use them as a passport for faster accreditation. It widens marketability into public sector and corporate prime contractors. Local Authorities spend £40 Billion pa on external services and are now targeted to ensure 25% of suppliers are SME. The Responsible Business Standard enables small enterprises to prove their sustainability as quality suppliers for public limited companies, and public sector bodies such as NHS, schools, central government and local authority services.
Essex County Council has been supportive throughout the development of ORB and The Responsible Business Standard. Joanna sees The Standard as a tool to increase business and consumer confidence.
“The Responsible Business Standard sits comfortably alongside the Buy with Confidence scheme operated in Essex by our Trading Standards team. Both are aimed at increasing business and consumer confidence and ensuring commitment to quality, high working standards and good operational practice.”
“This new standard has been designed specifically for SMEs, businesses that typify the FSB membership. We believe The Standard is a very useful tool for these businesses, particularly in the supply chain and procurement arena. Trying to facilitate the number of smaller businesses that successfully tender for local authority and private sector contracts is something that the FSB is passionate about. We lobby at national level to make procurement processes more suitable for SMEs and in Essex we have been particularly proactive in this area.
FSB will continue to work hard to help local businesses win contracts, but there are two sides to this coin: businesses must ensure they are tender ready and can validate the standards their businesses operate to. Considering attaining The Responsible Business Standard certification could be a really helpful step in providing that evidence for tender applications and supply chain enquiries.”
From an ethical fashion perspective, the launch of this new standard is particularly interesting and offers a rare opportunity to small UK based designers. A small ethical fashion business can now for the first time prove its ethical credentials, and officially be recognised in accordance with its achievements. This development comes at a time and age when the most common certifications such as Fairtrade or Organic are unattainable for many – often for financial reasons – yet buyers progressively require exactly these credentials.
The audit criteria and results of the Responsible Business Standard are clear, effective, very practice oriented and easy to communicate. The standard is a viable means of how to ‘do good and talk about it’ without having to turn a business’ processes upside down all at once. It allows a business to consciously opt for step-by-step improvement, while at the same time maintaining – as a fashion SME – a rare set of strengths and expertise.
De Marco Hunter Solicitors is a leading law firm specialising in employment law and business affairs. The company attained The Responsible Business Standard at gold level. De Marco Hunter Solicitors has been featured in both the traditional press and online business news sites. Principal, Sandra Garlick, has also been featured on BBC Midlands Today. As a business that does not advertise, in a traditional sense, they have been able to generate massive coverage as a direct result of achieving the Standard.
Sandra Garlick said: “We are already seeing the benefits of obtaining the Responsible Business Standard. We have used the accreditation process as a management tool to help us examine the way we operate as a business and that led to us updating a number of policies and procedures. Achieving the Gold Award has helped us to raise our profile and identify new ways of engaging with our stakeholders”
Case Study: Brighton Malpass Markets Meat Retailer Show Us Behind The Scenes
In light of the horse meat scandal British customers of supermarket chains are waking up to the reality that they have been fed a load of nonsense, literally!
With public confidence in supermarkets crushed, Clive Bonny looks at Brighton based meat retailer and wholesaler in action Malpass Markets. The Malpass family have been in the meat trade for over 200 years and have traded at Rye, Langney, Heathfield, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Chichester and Ford covering a lot of Sussex.
Clive talks to the owner Jamie Malpass along with staff and customers to find out what goes on behind closed doors, how the meat is bought, where does it come from, what is the process, how the meat is cut and sold to the public.
Visit their website here http://www.malpassmarkets.co.uk