The new Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) report claims companies must work out their values in order to communicate with the society which gives them their licence to operate.
The report (Stakeholder engagement: values, businesses culture and society) contains a series of case studies detailing how companies such as TalkTalk, Unilever, BAE Systems and L’Oreal have brought ethical values to bear in dealing with stakeholders, as well as an interview with Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary.
It is vital for companies to relate properly to the society from which they derive their licence to operate, the report says. A considered approach to engagement with a range of external stakeholders is therefore a core task for boards and management, but there is no point in embarking on such a course unless the company is clear in the first place what its values and purpose are. If this is not the case the message will be confused. External engagement should always be driven by the values.
Among its other conclusions the report says:
It is important for companies to engage with a wide range of stakeholders. The report ranges through a number of these including employees, customers, regulators and NGOs, as well as shareholders. The task is slightly different with shareholders who elect the board and to whom it is directly accountable. Boards have to be involved in shareholder engagement, whereas their role in other forms of engagement is more about overseeing what the management does.
Where shareholders are concerned there is an important challenge in improving the quality of dialogue and broadening the agenda. Both sides probably have to make efforts to overcome obstacles to do this and there may be a need to recalibrate corporate disclosure to make it more relevant. For example, shareholders need more information on staff turnover and possibly a simpler approach to remuneration which would require less disclosure and make it easier to control.
The attitude to customers is critical to culture and therefore to a sustainable business, but evidence shows that an engaged workforce is usually associated with a strong commitment to customer value.
Social media is an opportunity as well as a risk. Companies need to have a clearly defined approach.
In all cases companies should regard engagement as being about listening rather than simply communicating their own views. Lobbying is most effective when it involves working out the interests of stakeholders and working with them to mutual advantage rather than trying to push the company’s narrow self interest.
In her interview, Frances O’Grady points to the disparity between the long term commitment of employees to their company and the short term tenure of most chief executives. This is exacerbated by the increasing level of overseas investment in UK shares which means owners of companies can appear remote. “Employees need to be given a voice,” she says.
Philippa Foster Back CBE, IBE’s Director, commented, “we are very pleased to have supported the FRC Culture Coalition project. This report raises very important issues about the role of companies and the relationship of business to society.”
In the current climate of uncertainty, there is more need than ever to get this right.
Stakeholder Engagement: values, business culture and society complements other work stream outputs covering people, measuring and assurance and the role of the board and forms part of the FRC’s Report of Observations, to be published 20th July.
David Styles, Director of Corporate Governance at the FRC said, “company directors have responsibilities not only to shareholders, but to customers, suppliers and wider society. Building trust with these stakeholders also supports the creation of value in the long-term and success of business. The work IBE has contributed to this project is important at a time when there is much debate about the role of business in society. ”
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”