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Good Business Register: put your best foot forward

The St. James Ethics Centre and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia have collaborated (with the help and input of a number of project collaborators including Ernst & Young, ANZ, Westpac, TOYOTA, and Telstra) to create the Good Business Register, being the national register of responsible business practice for Australian Small Businesses.

The Register has been designed to provide an online platform that will enable small to medium businesses to establish their very own responsible and sustainable business practice agenda.

Previously, formal reporting processes have favored large businesses. The Register places the emphasis squarely on small businesses, allowing them to hone their competitive edge by publicly demonstrating their economic and environmental sustainability, amongst other things.

The primary benefit to participating businesses is the market differentiation a sound Good Business profile will bring, particularly in the procurement process.

According to Jaye Radisich, CEO of COSBOA, ‘the Good Business Register will provide small businesses with a tool to help them become more sustainable and use responsible business practices. In turn, this could help them access supply chain opportunities within the corporate sector and throughout government.’

The site encourages businesses to create a profile in the register, which they can then use to demonstrate both their social and environmental business credentials to procurers, customers, staff, and other stakeholders.

As SME’s traditionally draw greater levels of trust and a stronger connection with their customer bases, one of the aims of the Register is to harness this collective power to increase awareness about working conditions and sustainability.

‘With SMEs making up more than 95% of all businesses in Australia, they represent the backbone of the national economy. The Good Business Register aims to enable SMEs the opportunity to drive the transition towards sustainable business practices.’ asserts Rosemary Sainty, head of the Responsible Business Practice Project at St James Ethics Centre.

The register has established five principles on which SMEs can base their responsible business practices

  1. Financial sustainability: how your business operates in an economically sustainable manner in order to ensure it has the basic resources, governance and cash flow to be able to continue trading for the foreseeable future
  2. Workplace: the steps your business takes to create a workplace that’s conducive to making employees feel included, useful and respected, and that minimises the negative impacts of work through consideration of the individual’s life outside of the workplace.
  3. Supply chain: your establishment of responsible business practices in dealing with both your upstream or suppliers and your downstream or customers.
  4. Stakeholders & community: the way you actively engage with the wider aspects of your community; employees, customers, suppliers, local community, investors and government.
  5. Environment: how you minimise the negative impact of your business activities on the environment. Key aspects include energy and water use, greenhouse emissions, waste and biodiversity.

Small businesses stand to benefit considerably from the creation of a profile. A good profile would improve image and reputation, as well as trust and understanding between stakeholders and the business.

The register also aims to improve staff retention and lower absenteeism by helping SMEs provide excellent working conditions and strong values as incentives and motivators for staff.

Visit goodbusinessregister.com.au for more details.

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