Today marks our second anniversary of launching the Good Business Charter on 10th February, 2020. Not a good time to launch anything given the pandemic about to unleash havoc across our nation! And yet that same pandemic has sharpened the focus on some of the issues we stand for, through complaints of tax bailouts for companies not paying their fair share of tax, and the issue of low pay when we were so highly dependent on some of the lowest paid in our society such as healthcare workers and supermarket stackers. As companies starting pondering the call to ‘build back better’ our accreditation scheme was already established, providing a way to do just that.
Last year, on 10th February, I accompanied our founder, Julian Richer, in an FSB webinar as we excitedly unveiled the streamlined version of the Good Business Charter especially for organisations with 50 employees or less. That includes sole traders, by the way – just answer the employee questions on the basis of your commitments if you were to employ someone.
As Julian spoke, businesses mentioned in the chat that they were convinced and would join and sure enough, we watched 21 small businesses submit an application on that day alone. It felt like momentum was gathering for our straightforward, easy to understand accreditation with its clear minimum standards covering care for employees, suppliers, customers and the environment all whilst paying fair tax.
We launched in February 2020, a band of merrymen and women, including Capita, Deloitte and Brompton Bicycles. A year on we had 150 members of all sizes. Now we have over 850 members and are able to count Unilever and Aviva among those championing our standards of responsible business behaviour.
We have also launched our place-based model with York the first GBC city last summer and others in the pipeline to hopefully announce soon. Our vision remains big – to see GBC accredited stickers down the high street and have customers choose to shop in, eat in, and bank with those sporting the GBC accreditation. We hope that the basics of being a responsible employer, such as paying a real living wage and ensuring employees truly have a voice in the workplace, become the accepted norm for organisations throughout the UK.
As our team grows to support our community our aim is clear: present the GBC as an effective benchmark on which to measure good employers, particularly with regard to their social credentials. To this end we will continue to showcase what our members are doing, seek to encourage others who are passionate about being a responsible business to join us, and nudge others to up their game so that they too can achieve accreditation.
We will measure the impact of being a GBC accredited organisation and persist in finding different avenues to increase the recognition of our accreditation and all we stand for. As we grow, our voice gains clarity – we believe the general public wants to know which organisations are responsible in a way they can quickly access and easily comprehend. We provide a clear framework for organisations wondering how they can develop their environmental, social and governance credentials and bring that social aspect to the forefront.
There is much to do. There is limited time to do it. But we are up, up and away and the sky’s the limit!