The new possible - why we should all be excited about the Responsible Business Tracker

Maria-Jose Subiela, Global Goals Director at Business in the Community, explains why we should all be excited about the Responsible Business Tracker.
 
Am I excited about our new Responsible Business Tracker®? Yes, as I am at the start of every new journey. But I am particularly excited now, because I can see how the Tracker is showing us the new possible in responsible business. A new possible that is desperately needed.
 
Helping businesses continuously improve
This week we launched the Responsible Business Tracker® Insights report. The data in this report comes from 64 Forerunners, brave businesses across 24 sectors, who tested the Tracker to help us develop it for launch this autumn. In a nutshell, the Tracker measures how responsible a business is. It’s based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the Global Goals) and helps businesses identify what more needs to be done. It also provides a support system for businesses to improve. No business is perfect and the Tracker is designed to help those who wish to continuously improve, helping them with the how.
 
How does ambition translate into practice?
The Responsible Business Tracker® data shows inspiring examples of responsible business and it also reveals a key integration gap. Commitment to responsible business is widespread: 86% of participating companies have a purpose statement. But only a third (33%) of these reported they have performance management systems in place to integrate responsible business objectives across the business. Only 17% have considered what this means across departments or set clear team targets.  While we are encouraged by the ambition, there is a big gap between what is being communicated and how this translates across departments and individual accountability and targets.
 
As part of this focus on integration, the Tracker looks closely at a business’s products and services. This is an under-researched area. 61% of our Forerunners stated that they consider social factors during product or service development. But only 39% reported that they have processes in place to be able to change a product or service design if they have a high level of negative impact or no real social impact. This is worrying.
 
Turning insight into action
Analysis of the data also suggests that using the Global Goals to shape business strategy is proving to be a challenge. While companies are using the Goals in describing their activity to employees and external audiences, there is less evidence that they are embedded in company cultures or are driving strategies. 70% of Forerunners reported a lack of understanding of the risk to their business of not meeting the Global Goals.
 
However, there is strong evidence from the Tracker to suggest that the Global Goals are prompting collective sector action which others can learn from. The food and retail sector is a stand-out example. Here we see cohesion between the goals that the sector is prioritising and much more action on this as a sector. Over half (55%) of participating businesses in this sector have verified their human rights impacts through stakeholder consultations, compared to an overall average of 22%. 
 
As the Responsible Business Tracker® is used more widely, its influence and importance to drive practical action and impact will only grow. As we continue to realise the new possible, I invite you to have read our report and be inspired by some fantastic examples of responsible business, and to reflect on what the gaps identified mean to you and your business.
 
Find out more about how the Responsible Business Tracker® can help you. The Responsible Business Tracker® was developed with the generous support from Sky and assistance from the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business at the University of Birmingham.