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Social purpose should come before profit, say 1 in 3 consumers

Social purpose should come before profit, say 1 in 3 consumers

Social purpose should come before profit, say 1 in 3 consumers

Placing an emphasis on environmental performance, sustainability and other issues that have a wider social significance could be an effective way for businesses to improve their reputation with consumers, research has suggested.

A survey of 1,000 UK adults, conducted by Ipsos MORI in partnership with Neil Gaught & Associates and Forster Communications, highlighted the common view that private firms should be doing more to have a positive impact on the world.

Nearly four out of ten respondents (37 per cent) were of the opinion that companies should make their social purpose a bigger priority than their profits.

Almost half (47 per cent) of consumers felt ethically run organisations were better for the economy, while a similar proportion (48 per cent) said they preferred to purchase from businesses with strong standards and principles.

The same number of people (47 per cent) agreed they would be more likely to buy products or services from providers that have a positive stance on social issues.

There are various measures companies can put in place to show they are aware of the need to operate ethically, such as using eco-friendly appliances and minimising the amount of waste they send to landfill.

Environmentally aware organisations should also ensure they only work with service suppliers and outside partners that have strong green credentials.

Other key findings from the Ipsos MORI survey showed that less than one in five UK consumers (18 per cent) believe the current economic system is working well for them and less than a third feel it is functioning well for businesses.

The research was released to mark the publication of a new book by strategic advisor Neil Gaught, which looks at how a "single organising idea" can "change business for good".
Mr Gaught said the survey provided further "hard data" suggesting that consumer expectations for change in business practices are growing.

He continued: "Together with the emerging data surrounding the SDGs (sustainable development goals), the case for a single organising idea that changes business for good and puts sustainability at the core would seem like common sense but unfortunately it's not.

"There really can be no more excuses - the strategy is simple, what is required is belief and leadership. I believe that businesses will respond and adapt - those that don't run the risk of being left behind."

Jonathan Glennie, director of the Ipsos Sustainable Development Research Centre, which commissioned the study, said the findings indicate that business sustainability and ethical methods are no longer "marginal concerns" for consumers.

When it comes to improving performance on the environmental front, other positive changes private organisations can make include saving energy by encouraging employees to adopt more positive habits in the workplace.

It can also prove beneficial for businesses to invest in regular energy audits to ensure they are always using the most efficient equipment and cutting down on unnecessary waste.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/weerapatkiatdumrong