Responsible Business Culture within SMEs
Case Study on Seriously Helpful Online Marketing
At the Good Business Foundation we think practicing responsible business behaviour should be intuitive, and we accredit organisations whose ethos strives for ethical practice and transparency. Not only is it ‘the right thing to do’, but running an organisation ethically improves office culture, sales and reputation – if you have motivated staff and good treatment of your customers and suppliers, you are more likely to retain customers or stakeholders over the long term.
But it is not always easy to know the practical steps to take to practice responsible business behaviour, especially in a smaller organisation who may not have the same capacity or resources as larger organisations.
We spoke to GBC member, Stuart Haining of SH Consulting who trade as Seriously Helpful Online Marketing, and he shared some of the practical steps and initiatives that they follow to run their SME responsibly.
Equity Sharing and Pay Parity Goal
At Seriously Helpful Online Marketing, they are able to have a policy in place whereby every year the company aims to double the number of staff and partner shares in issue by allocating them to those who have contributed most to the company progress in the preceding year. Shares then rank equally with Directors for dividends and even ex staff can keep on participating so they need not lose value. They also have a Pay Parity goal whereby Directors aim for their remuneration to be in a similar ballpark to the staff average with pay here typically only increasing when it increases for colleagues, giving management the incentive to grow the company to benefit all.
Carbon Offset Scheme
They also created their own carbon offset scheme to offset the carbon generated within the company, as well as the daily commute of employees, plus an extra 5%. This commitment to the environment doesn’t need to be a huge expense – if every business strived to be carbon zero, there would be a huge environmental benefit.
Proud to Pay UK Tax Scheme
Another scheme that Seriously Helpful Online Marketing set up was their Proud to Pay UK Tax Scheme, which essentially shows the combined percentage of tax that they are proud to pay displayed on their UK tax logo, and show estimates of other large companies to compare to try and encourage customers to be aware of which companies are proudly UK based and pay UK tax. See their website for more details.
One of our components for accreditation is paying employees the Real Living Wage – but many organisations, including Seriously Helpful Online Marketing, already recognise this as an important factor when considering the treatment of their employees. Paying the Real Living Wage not only shows a level of appreciation to the work that employees are doing, but creates a good culture between colleagues.
Staff Pension Scheme
Seriously Helpful Online Marketing launched a staff pension scheme before it was mandated a few years ago and they were one of the first to join, well ahead of the legal requirement to do so!
They introduced workplace training for all employees to study and obtain a high level NVQ in an area that helped employees understand their clients more. For SH Consulting this was in business, to help employees better appreciate how best a client’s money should be spent as if it was their own.
To address staff wellbeing when working in an office, they offer payments for eye tests, give weekly reminders of a need for hourly breaks, and raise the issue of stress each week in team meetings to give everyone a chance to say if they have issues or need support.
These are just some of the steps that Seriously Helpful Online Marketing took in their responsible business journey – we are so proud to have them as a Good Business Charter member, and we hope that some of these steps they took inspire other SMEs in their journey towards more responsible business behaviour.