Taking it personally: BITC Leadership Task Force report on responsible business leadership

BITC Leadership Task Force report on responsible business leadership
This report is the starting point for Business in the Community for working with leaders to shape a new contract between business and society, to secure a fairer society and more sustainable future.
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We think business leaders have an important role to play as a force for change in achieving this aim. 

Leaders will be more confident in some of these actions than others: they may be played at different volumes at different times, but a responsible leader should be active in them all.

- Heidi Mottram OBE,
Chief Executive, Northumbrian Water Group

Over 300 business leaders contributed to this report through a survey and a series of debates around the country feeding back to a leadership summit with HRH The Prince of Wales.

Nine out of ten leaders we surveyed believe that business is about more than maximising profit, yet fewer than three in ten think sufficient attention is given to developing long term strategies. While the core purpose of business hasn’t changed (businesses still need to provide excellent products and services to customers and make money to survive and thrive) the context of business is changing, with greater expectations, scrutiny and pressures shining a spotlight on how businesses make their money, the impact they have on the communities they serve and the importance of creating long term shared value.

It isn’t easy to make the kinds of changes this report calls for. Business leaders operate in a fast changing world, and are subjected to short-term pressures, with customers who don’t want to pay more and shareholders who don’t ask about the sustainability agenda. Paying lip service to responsible business is easy, but really standing up to be counted as a responsible leader requires courage as it will draw attention to your own behaviour, and be difficult when mistakes occur.

But BITC has identified the actions we will take to support our members on this journey, including providing tools and case studies, offering integrated thinking and reporting, engaging investors and promoting effective Governance of Corporate Responsibility.

Based on what we have learnt from our direct engagement with our members, and our review of other initiatives, we discuss the essence of responsible business leadership and identify five suggested actions for responsible business leaders under the headings below.  We are inviting leaders to share their experience and learning around these actions in very brief case studies - see the examples above, or contact us to share yours.

Five actions for business leaders Actions that BITC will take to support our members
  1. Create a clear long and short term strategic vision

  2. Demonstrate your values

  3. Identify and communicate total long term value creation

  4. Develop responsible leaders for the future

  5. Be an advocate for responsible leadership

  1. Tools and case studies

  2. ‘Time to think’: a forum to focus on the barriers and challenges

  3. Integrated thinking and reporting

  4. Engaging Investors

  5. Promoting effective Governance of Corporate Responsibility

  6. Experiential learning and developing responsible leaders for the future

This report follows the Interim Report published in February 2014, which is available to members of Business in the Community.

1. Edleman Trust Barometer 2014, Edleman, January 2014

Leadership Taskforce interim report

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