The spectacular implosion of Carillion has prompted a series of strongly opinionated media responses – some offering a disappointingly antiquated, but all too common, view of sustainability.
“Corporate social responsibility” has been derided by many as a series of tick-boxes championed by the government. It is often insinuated that sustainability communications are nothing but irrelevant PR puff designed to placate stakeholders and proffer a softer, more caring side of business.
While this viewpoint represents the mindset of less progressive businesses, times have changed. It’s taken a few hard-hitting headlines over the years, but despite its identity crisis, even cynics can’t ignore the fact that corporate sustainability reflects a multitude of business-critical issues that are intertwined with commercial success. Tesco is estimated to have lost £300m in market value following the 2013 horse meat outrage and the Volkswagen emissions scandal is expected to cost around $30bn.
Since the Modern Slavery Act came into force in 2015, there’s been a 425 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for slavery, catching companies like Sports Direct in the crossfire. Uber’s future in the UK hangs in the balance on account of its questionable ethics, and the BBC’s Carrie Gracie has just resigned after the gender pay gap reporting legislation revealed vast inequality between men and women.