New Industry Standard Launched for SMEs

Business leaders, academics and councillors gathered this week for the official launch of The Responsible Business Standard at Anglia Ruskin University.

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• Pictured at the launch: Julie-Ann March, Jenny Little and Dr Beatriz Acevedo (Anglia Ruskin University), Cllr Kevin Bentley, Jill Poet (ORB), Ian Wicks (FSB) and Mike Wilson (ORB)

The Responsible Business Standard will evidence what a business is doing and
fill the breach to meet public and private sector requirements.

Chelmsford, Essex (PRWEB UK) 4 July 2011

Developed by the Organisation for Responsible Businesses (ORB), and validated through collaborative Partnership with Dr. Beatriz Acevedo, lecturer in Sustainable Management at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School, The Responsible Business Standard aims to give small to medium sized enterprises a welcome advantage in securing procurement and government contracts as well as leading them towards a more socially responsible business.

The Responsible Business Standard has been specifically developed for SMEs to encompass a range of attributes businesses need to aspire to in the changing economy. It is quite different to any existing forms of certification such as an ISO although, as this new standard is much broader, can either sit neatly beside them or used as a stepping stone towards them.

The nationally recognised Standard has been designed to be both affordable and attainable, with progressive levels and entry costs including professional auditing of less than £500.

Jill Poet, Managing Director of The Organisation for Responsible Businesses (ORB) explains: “This isn’t just about being accountable and socially responsible. Many UK SMEs are already working hard towards best practice but don’t have anything tangible to demonstrate that. We developed The Responsible Business Standard because there wasn't anything that is affordable, realistic and of value for the majority of SMEs for whom ISO accreditation can often involve too much time and too much money. It can also be daunting for SMEs to go down the ISO route and yet the lack of appropriate certification has often meant businesses have been unable to obtain valuable contracts. Historically, central and local government have always asked for ISO9001, but they are now accepting that it isn't always necessary or appropriate. They do nonetheless require some sort of validation and The Responsible Business Standard will evidence what a business is doing and fill the breach to meet public and private sector requirements.”

The Standard is available at three progressive levels: bronze, silver and gold. A Certified ORB Consultant conducts the audit which covers a wide remit looking at everything from best practice and management systems to social and environmental compliance.

Ian Wicks, Essex Regional Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says: “Many smaller businesses, even if they have supplied an organisation for many years, are suddenly being asked to evidence their social and environmental credentials. Businesses need to be aware that this type of enquiry within the supply chain is likely to increase rapidly: they should be ready for it if they wish to maintain existing contracts and gain new ones. This new standard has been designed specifically for SMEs, businesses that typify the FSB membership. We believe The Standard is going to be a very useful tool for these businesses, particularly in the supply chain and procurement arena”.

Jill concludes, “The demands of customers, both in the public and private sector are changing, and there is a clear message that those businesses that embrace social and environmental considerations will thrive in coming decades. We want to engage with those businesses to guide them towards not just a competitive advantage but reduced overheads, a more productive workforce and a better reputation”.

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