It's time to recognise the businesses that care

According to influential economist and Godfather of the free market, Milton Friedman, “the only corporate social responsibility a company has is to maximise its profits.”Ethical decisions, he argued, were for individuals to make; a business’s focus should be on driving consumer spending, making lots of money and stimulating competition within deregulated, low-taxed market conditions.

This school of thought has subsequently shaped the world’s economic model in developed markets for the past 40 years, with the notion of responsibility exposed as a mere footnote by the 2008 financial crash.

Consumers fight back

Coupled with high-profile tax evasion cases against some of the world’s biggest brands, the global recession triggered by excessive risk-taking in the banking sector has in turn created a new paradigm shift in how we look at financial institutions, multinational corporations and SMEs.

Roused by growing disdain towards what is seen as a ‘profit-first’ culture, consumers and employees are now demanding that businesses place much greater importance on the impact their practices have on local communities, the environment and society at large. We desire a better world, and want to feel validated as agents for change by the brands we choose to buy from.

Therefore, if a business wants to be loved, respected and ultimately successful, it’s time to start thinking about the wider picture. Stagnate in the myopic world of short-term profit, or contribute to a better future – with the bonus of long-term brand loyalty?

Celebrating the brands that do things right

We strongly believe that business owners, entrepreneurs and shareholders who are passionate about driving positive change; of being a force for good whether on a regional, national or international scale, should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Companies that embrace the spirit of community, buy into ‘the greater good’, and take their responsibility to people and the environment seriously should be recognised for their efforts. In turn, this would enable consumers to make more informed decisions on which brands they choose to buy from, whilst also forcing those companies that do not comply to change their practices, or risk permanent reputational damage.

The social responsibility index

So, how do we propose to achieve this? Guerillascope believes a rating system, or index of companies that have passed a ‘corporate responsibility’ evaluation, would go some way to ensuring that brands doing things in the right way are rewarded.

Companies operating in the UK would be measured against criteria such as tax contributions, worker’s rights, environmental impacts and the promotion and representation of diversity, with those that pass an assessment performed by one or more independent bodies receiving a ‘green stamp’: an official recognition that can be featured on company assets as a badge of honour.

Incentivising good business practices

We don’t think it’s fair when corporations guilty of tax evasion are permitted to continue milking the communities they have shown such disregard for, whilst honest and socially conscious competitors find themselves muscled out of the picture. Nor do we believe that brands guilty of exploiting their employees with low wages, poor working conditions and next-to-zero job security should be allowed to profit from their actions. No business should be given free rein to exploit and damage the environment for the sake of more zeros.

Instead, we believe a system like the one outlined above will help incentivise more brands to go about doing their thing in the right way. It will shame others into following suit.

And what of the fruits promised by taking a more ethical and responsible approach? A happier, more motivated team; long-term increases in sales and market share; a positive and trusted brand reputation; the knowledge that your actions and values are improving the lives of others. Not a bad return…

We know that by committing to sustainable and responsible brand practices, businesses are often taking the more difficult, costlier option: that’s why they should be proud of the contributions they make, and that’s why they deserve greater recognition. We will be working hard to ensure that the UK’s inherently kind and entrepreneurial spirit is celebrated.