Author: Bethan May Freire, Corporate Affairs
Earlier this month, creative agency 18 Feet and Rising published an interesting report discussing the benefits that ethical business practices can have for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Uprising Report also includes advice from larger companies that lead in this field and in it, our Director of Sustainability, Rachel McEwen, offers some advice to SMEs. While Rachel’s advice is focussed on how to create an ethical business culture, the report covers a range of issues.
It recognises that in a changing business environment, consumers are rightly demanding companies to behave in a more ethical way. Here at SSE we’ve talked a lot about the increasing pressure we are facing from investors, customers, employees and others to be more sustainable. And this report confirms our thoughts that this juggling act of wanting to do the right thing, whilst still providing a return for investors, is a dilemma faced not only by us, but for all our business customers whether large or small.
While I was pleased to see that nearly a third of the 100 SME CEOs polled believed that there are no barriers to embracing ethical business practices, unfortunately 41% considered that it was too costly to do so and 70% struggle to implement it into their business.
One result that also struck me was that 75% consider treating employees fairly as a key part of ethical business practice. At SSE we whole heartedly agree and think that the first step must be to ensure no one that works for SSE earns less than the real Living Wage.
At SSE, I think we’ve got a really strong story to tell about our journey to becoming Living Wage accredited and what it means to us, and we want to share what we have learnt with our customers.
We produce handy guides which help our customers understand how to demonstrate social value in their business practises, including one on how to adopt the Living Wage. We also offer to help with the cost of the Living Wage accreditation for our SSE Green customers*. In doing this, we hope we can support more SMEs and reduce the number who are struggling to implement ethical business practices.
You can read the full report, and Rachel’s reflections, here.
*Maximum contribution is £250 per customer per accreditation.