How to be a ‘good’ business? Just listen…

When many of us reflect on what makes a ‘good’ business our attention turns towards measures of success such as profitability, market share, customer retention, and so forth. These factors are undoubtedly critical, but what if we expand our definition of ‘good’ to take into account ssues such as ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability?
The recently launched Queen’s Management School ‘Good Business Podcast’ aims to do just that, going beyond the bottom line to examine the broader impact of business – both positive and negative – upon society. Here are some lessons learned from the series so far:
  1. Collaboration is Key: Louise Nicholl, Corporate Head of Human Rights, Food Sustainability, and Food Packaging at Marks & Spencer, stressed the need for businesses to engage with their stakeholders and build long-term, synergistic relationships. Not only can this help firms identify potential challenges early, it can facilitate the development of innovative solutions to wicked problems, such as the wide spread reliance on single use plastics within certain sectors.
  1. Integrity is Essential: Dr Karen Bonner, from Queen’s Management School, highlighted the importance of businesses acting with integrity. A litany of corporate scandals, declining public trust in business, and the increasing use of social media as a platform to express dissatisfaction means that ethics and accountability need to be primary concerns for all organisations in order to ensure their survival. Karen was joined by Dave Linton, founder of award winning social enterprise Madlug, who attributes much of his organisation’s success to adopting a ‘people focused’ approach that emphasises the dignity and worth of every individual they interact with.
  1. Earlier is Better: In our forthcoming episode, Jeremy Mathieu, International Manager at BAFTA Sustainability and Sustainability Adviser to the BBC, discusses the importance of considering sustainability issues as soon as possible. Whether you are launching a business, developing a new product, or expanding into a different market, thinking about the potential social, economic, and environmental impact at the outset can help forfend against future problems. Not only can this reduce the risk of reputational damage, it also has the potential to bring about cost reductions and open up new customer bases. Quite simply, that’s just good business.   
Listen to the podcast at or follow us on Twitter @QUBEthics
Dr Laura Steele, Lecturer in Business and Society at Queen’s Management School.