Tags: Tax, Treatment of Employees
Good Business Charter's Good Business Week, is an opportunity to champion good business and call for responsible business practices. Julian Richer and Jenny Herrera's blog looks at the reasons #GoodBusinessMatters and why we should champion those companies raising the bar on responsible business behaviour.
As a retailer, I have long known and valued the importance of listening to your customers and serving them well. It is something UK consumer champion Which? has kindly recognised time and time again, awarding us Retailer of the Year for the fifth time in six years.
Yet customers don’t just want good service when they go to purchase an item. They care about how the business operates and relates to those around it. The TSB found in a consumer poll completed in 2021 that 97% of people felt businesses should act responsibly. Indeed, in more recent polling that they have undertaken, they are learning that many people assume businesses are doing the basics of treating their staff well, paying their taxes and caring for the environment.
5th to 11th February 2024 marks our first Good Business Week to celebrate responsible business practices and share why #GoodBusinessMatters. We want to hear about the organisations championing their workforce, or going over and above to ensure they source their goods ethically or sort out their systems to pay their suppliers promptly. We want to showcase some of the good work being done because too frequently we only hear about the scandals.
We also want to engage the public in helping us raise the bar on responsible business behaviour. We launched the Good Business Charter (GBC) accreditation in 2020 because we believe there is a clear need to differentiate between the responsible businesses committed to all key areas and those that do not. The truth is, even some very environmentally sustainable companies do not pay the real living wage, or a company may be championing their workforce, but not paying their fair share of UK tax.
We know that the issue of tax is close to the IBE’s heart – for the 10th year running their consumer survey has identified corporate tax avoidance as the one issue that makes the public most angry. And rightly so! Richer Sounds is proud to be a member of the Fair Tax Mark which provides that key differentiation in one area of responsible capitalism. The GBC brings a number of areas like this together. The 10 components are:
- Real living wage
- Fairer hours and contracts
- Employee wellbeing
- Employee representation
- Environmental responsibility
- Pay fair tax
- Customer commitment
- Ethical sourcing
- Prompt payment to suppliers
In a world of confusion over ratings and accreditations, we need a clear benchmark for what responsible business looks like and that is why we worked with the CBI and TUC to create the GBC and then with the FSB to design a streamlined version for smaller businesses.
Commitment to these ten components seems like common sense. In practice, however, it seems that adherence to all ten is a high bar and those who are GBC accredited should be very proud of themselves. They include large companies like Aviva, Legal & General, TSB, as well as Universities and many small businesses, passionate about doing the right thing.
Ultimately the GBC is about treating one another and the planet with respect. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Yet there is still so little requirement from government for businesses to act ethically. Corporate tax welfare of a staggering £93 billion is paid each year to companies in grants and tax breaks with few, if any obligations on tax dodging, employment practices or social responsibility.
Whilst government drags its heels and shows little desire to hold businesses to account, the GBC presents an opportunity for consumers to do just that. They can choose to shop with businesses that are caring for their employees, paying their suppliers promptly, paying their taxes and caring for the planet. They could choose to work for such businesses, and an increasing number of young people are doing just that, looking to work for organisations that share their values.
In Good Business Week they could nominate other organisations who should consider GBC accreditation and make some noise about why this all matters to them.
We shouldn’t have to tolerate companies trashing the planet, trampling over their employees and dodging taxes. If we were to set a clear standard, and align procurement and investing with it, we can encourage companies to change behaviour in order to remain competitive and attract and retain talent and loyal customers. Over 40+ years of business I can say it isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. Ask Which? or indeed any one of our employees, many of whom have worked for Richer Sounds for years.
Call to Action: If you represent a business that can meet our 10 - lead the way and accredit today: www.goodbusinesscharter.com or spread the word on our social channels (LinkedIn & X) this Good Business Week using the hashtag #GoodBusinessMatters
Founder and Managing Director, Richer Sounds
Julian Richer is an English retail entrepreneur, philanthropist and author, best known as the founder and managing director of Richer Sounds, the UK's largest hi-fi retailer.
Richer has a particular interest in supporting causes involved with human rights, animal welfare, social housing deprivation and fighting injustice. He has written several books, including The Richer Way and The Ethical Capitalist.
CEO, Good Business Charter
Jenny Herrera is the CEO of the Good Business Charter which recognises responsible business practices across 10 components covering care for employees, customers, suppliers and the environment whilst also paying tax according to the spirit of the law. Jenny is both a chartered accountant and an experienced charity CEO.