What is the Good Business Charter?
The Good Business Charter is a simple accreditation which organisations in the UK can sign up to in recognition of responsible business practices.
It measures behaviour over 10 components: real living wage, fairer hours and contracts, employee well-being, employee representation, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility, paying fair tax, commitment to customers, ethical sourcing, and prompt payment.
The Good Business Charter is an initiative of the Good Business Foundation, a charity registered in England and Wales. The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and the TUC (Trades Union Congress) both have trustee representation on the board of the Good Business Foundation to ensure that the voices of business and employees are heard. The Good Business Foundation worked in collaboration with FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) to develop a streamlined version of the accreditation which is accessible to organisations with 50 employees or less which was launched in January 2021
There are other standards that organisations can sign up to – what makes GBC different?
A company must meet commitments in each of these 10 areas to receive GBC accreditation (9 for charities/public sector). We believe that this is the huge value of the GBC – an all-or-nothing accreditation rather than an average scoring – which we think makes it more transparent and thus holds more credibility with employees, customers and other stakeholders. Ultimately you are not left guessing – any company that signs up to the GBC will be meeting the criteria for each of the components. There is no joining fee and the first year’s membership is free with only nominal costs thereafter.
It is simple and streamlined with accreditation done through online self-certification because we want to inspire as many businesses as possible to sign up and change their business behaviour where necessary, which we believe will in turn encourage wider good business practice.
As well as being a signpost to direct consumers, potential employees, investors (donors if charities) and subcontractors to your organisation, it provides a really effective framework to explain to your workforce how you are implementing responsible business behaviour.
Monitoring and enforcement
The Good Business Charter seeks to remove barriers to ensure organisations that are passionate about behaving responsibly can get involved. In completing the self-certification, you are confirming you are both authorised to do so on behalf of the organisation AND have done your due diligence to ensure you can support your answers. Whilst the GBC team does not undertake a full audit, nor require hefty submission of paperwork, each accredited organisation must be able to demonstrate their commitments.
There is an expectation on accredited organisations that they will promote their GBC accreditation both internally to their workforce and externally on their website and social media. We actively encourage whistle-blowing from individuals where there are any concerns that a member is not complying with the GBC principles. These reports will be investigated thoroughly.
We have discussed our model with a variety of partners who believe in the current age of social media, these requirements will help ensure the integrity of the Good Business Charter is protected for the benefit of all members. The reputational risk of not fulfilling the commitments of the GBC lies with the individual organisation completing the self-certification and not with the Good Business Foundation.
If you want a cheap way to greenwash your organisation, please do not join us! Your involvement is subsidised to recognise and reward good business behaviour but in turn we only want responsible organisations who are worthy of our support. In the interests of our brand integrity and to be fair to all our existing accredited organisations we insist that new members commit to supporting their involvement in meaningful ways. If they don’t then we reserve the right to review their right to use our licence.
Will it change organisational behaviour?
We believe the simplicity and basic ethical principles of the GBC will be key to its success. The GBC is a non-profit making organisation funded by private sponsors who are keen to be supportive of responsible capitalism. We hope the GBC, because of its simplicity and cost effectiveness, will quickly gain support and therefore critical mass, which will give it important and influential authority to change business practice for good. It is applicable for all sizes and types of organisation which we believe will also appeal.
In order to sign up to the Charter each organisation will need to evaluate the way it operates in relation to the ten component areas. As more organisations get involved, and as GBC members get publicly recognised and rewarded, we hope that it will become increasingly difficult for companies, charities and public sector organisations to sit outside this framework.
The first five components of the Good Business Charter are specifically focused on UK workers. Global companies who have workers outside the UK must at the very least ensure that the ETI Base Code is not just applied to their supply chain, but also to the workers in each country they operate in.
Small companies and small third sector organisations
In recognition that 99.3% of all businesses in the UK have less than 51 employees and given the level of interest we had from smaller organisations in the first few months of the Good Business Charter’s existence, in January 2021 we launched a streamlined version for organisations with up to 50 employees, developed in collaboration with FSB (Federation of Small Businesses). This assessment seeks to use language more accessible to this size of organisation whilst still upholding the same standards of the 10 components of the GBC.
Good Business Charter
Take the first step now and sign up with us today. If you receive accreditation to the GBC, membership will be FREE for the first year.
Calling all employees, customers and suppliers.
If you have reason to believe that a GBC accredited organisation is not meeting its obligations, please let us know.