A report by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) was released today. Entitled “Everyone’s Business: Making Business Work for All“.  The report is timely as it reflects the mood that the social problems we face as a society require collaboration from all parts of society rather than an allocation of separate roles to government, business and society. Each contributes to, and draws from, the totality of society that sustains them.

It was encouraging to hear at the launch that a common theme of both the CSJ spokespeople and the invited Minister, Nick Hurd MP, was the message to business that “what they do matters” in creating a fairer society that includes dignity and social mobility. The call was to recapture the narrative about the broader good that business contributes to society rather than to allow the dominant narrative to be about the self interested people and businesses that disrespect people and use society for financial ends.  With that position of influence, and encouragement, comes responsibility and the “how they go about their business” is something they should be, and should seek to be, judged by.  Judged not just by society at large but also by the business community,  as the strong evidence base that the report draws on shows that “not thinking about social responsibility harms your business “.

As the Minister pointed out, a trust deficit between business and society affects both – as meaningful work, the productivity of business and national prosperity are likely to be linked. The link was also made between the mind-set of the social economy (which the UK has nurtured and which puts social goals at their heart) combined with the scale and efforts of the largest companies. This is a powerful combination that can be harnessed for the good of society and business within society.

The report makes specific policy recommendations to send a strong signal of intent and direction but the call to action from the speakers was also more inclusive and human. Leadership was needed but leadership extended beyond hierarchical positions and regulatory clarification to individual accountability and call to action. The role modelling of senior leaders was recognised as a huge influence but real leadership rested with us all. It was hoped that the report provided the evidence that may embolden those that want to lead change at all levels to feel that they are not alone and that evidence for a new way of thinking is on their side.

A timely, evidence based, content rich Report with specific policy challenges.  The positioning of the content was as important: it is about the scale of positive difference that business can bring to society. That requires behaviour change and the evidence base that being truly human towards each other opens the route to sustainable prosperity for business and the society that nurtures it.

Loughlin Hickey

Loughlin Hickey, a Trustee and Senior Adviser to A Blueprint for Better Business, was a member of the small working group that helped the CSJ in their research and production of the Report.