Reflections on Business in the Community's Responsible Business of the Year

July 10, 2016 Patrick O'Meara

Patrick O'Meara, Membership Director, BITC, gives his reflections on the Winner and Finalists for the Responsible Business of the Year Award

The Responsible Business of the Year Award is Business in the Community’s flagship award: we seek to recognise leading businesses that are creating long term value. It is independently judged and is the highest accolade that we offer.

Being a responsible business is about how you make your money in a sustainable and responsible way, not how you spend your profits. Therefore, social and environmental considerations should sit alongside the economic drivers when businesses make commercial decisions.

Business at its best is a power for good, and companies who embed a responsible approach in their core decision making and operations play a central role in building a fairer society and more sustainable future. For many companies, this is simply part of their DNA: some of today’s biggest businesses, from our banks and building societies to housing associations, were created in order to address societal issues. As the world changes, all companies need to re-examine their relationship with the communities and environment around them. Digital communications enable customers to scrutinise behaviour like never before, and they expect companies to always do the right thing.

Fujitsu, on becoming BITC's Responsible Business of the Year last summer, called on companies to embed their values, decide what they stand for, integrate this into their business and align with their growth strategy. Fujitsu, and this year’s finalists for the Responsible Business of the Year Award, have seen the potential that putting responsibility at the heart of decision making has in attracting new customers, engaging employees, and improving long term profitability.

Companies like EDF Energy, Hermes, State Street and Veolia have demonstrated in their Award entries that they are actively integrating responsible business into the decision making and core business strategy. Each of these companies is, in its way, leveraging their leadership position to influence and challenge others to address key issues ranging from youth unemployment and apprenticeships, to the circular economy and responsible investment.

Of all of our finalists, however, one stood head and shoulders above the others – in their ambition, their transformation and their leadership. Veolia has shown huge bravery in its journey to becoming a circular and resource efficient company and we are proud to call it our Responsible Business of the Year 2016.

Through working collaboratively with customers, communities and competitors, Veolia has been changing the way it does business. We hope to work with Veolia as Responsible Business of the Year to change the way the world does business, challenging the way we all understand and use resources.

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