The research, conducted by the global IT company and YouGov, found that only 20% of British workers felt the country’s businesses were acting responsibly.

The report found workers felt responsible businesses should reduce their impact on the environment as much as possible, with 58% saying it should be a priority for business.

Around three quarters of workers felt treating employees well and paying the correct amount of tax were responsible business priorities. This compares to just 27% saying making a profit was the priority of a responsible business.

The survey of 1,226 workers also found that 52% are more likely to buy from companies that behave in a responsible way, even if their products are more expensive.

Positive environment

Phil Keoghan, chief executive of Ricoh, said the findings showed workers were seeking more than just remuneration for their work. “Business leaders must recognise the importance of creating more positive working environments to meet this demand,” said Keoghan.

“British companies already provide important initiatives for employees and their communities, but our research shows much more needs to be done to build trust with workers. UK business leaders now have an exciting opportunity to prove that they can deliver positive, responsible growth, providing economic security along with support for communities and society.”

When asked which firms they felt were the most responsible, the workers responded with 29% citing non-profit or third sector firms, 11% healthcare companies and 6% technology companies. Just 1% said they felt financial firms were the most responsible.

More than ‘spin’

CBI chief membership director Sara Parker said the report should be taken seriously by businesses as evidence of workers expecting more from their employers, particularly since the financial crisis.

Parker said: “Ultimately, corporate responsibility isn’t about just ‘putting a positive spin on things’, it’s about businesses effectively communicating what they actually do for their employees, customers and the overall community each and every day.” 

Ricoh’s head of corporate responsibility James Deacon wrote for edie earlier this month on the importance of implementing sustainable business practices. “Sustainability shouldn’t be an add-on, or an afterthought for today’s business leaders,” wrote Deacon. “There are tangible business benefits to be had from embedding sustainable practice and behaviour into company operations on a daily basis.”

Deacon added that sustainability is about more than encouraging ‘green’ habits. “Sustainability measures can bring huge benefits in reducing bottom lines costs, increasing employee engagement and talent attraction/retention, as well as streamlining efficiencies across the company.”

Matt Field

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