Spotlight on the Responsible Business Standard

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The Responsible Business Standard is an auditable credential for smaller businesses designed to provide a competitive advantage for companies. The business standard and official certification is available for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that engage in ethical and responsible business practices that promote a more sustainable future. The credential was launched by the Organisation for Responsible Business, a UK business organisation for sustainable, ethical and green businesses. The organisation also administers the standard by conducting audits and awarding certification credentials.

About the Responsible Business Standard

Launched in 2011, the Responsible Business Standard was created by the Organisation for Responsible Business (ORB). The ORB is an independent and private organisation that works closely with the public sector, NGOs and business. The organisation promotes and supports responsible businesses that apply social and environmental considerations in their day-to-day operations. As part of its mandate, the ORB seeks ways to balance the needs for long-term profitability with broader community and environmental sustainability. Unlike an ISO, the Responsible Business Standard considers broader criteria related to sustainable, ethical and responsible business performance. It can complement an ISO or act as a stepping stone for obtaining ISO international standards.

Certification Process

The nationally recognised Responsible Business Standard is provided to SMEs that have demonstrated efficient and ethical business practices. This includes meeting or exceeding relevant legislation and consistently considering the impacts of business operations on the workforce, the community and broader society, and the environment. Businesses are audited in a variety of areas by a certified ORB consultant. The audit process depends on the size and complexity of the company. The company’s staff are interviewed by the auditor, who also inspects all areas of the business. Once the audit is complete, a report will be prepared with the result and recommended certification level (that is, bronze, silver or gold). The report will also identify any actions that can be taken to achieve a higher certification level.

A range of business practices are investigated during an audit, including the company’s performance and relationship with its workforce, the environment, the broader community, and the marketplace. For example, a company’s policies and performance related to human resources, training, health and safety, and legal regulations are examined. Local community engagement, waste and energy use, customer service, and supply chain management policies and practices are also investigated. The company’s record on ethics, values and transparency, as well as business continuity and the company’s managerial and financial long-term prospects of the business are also considered.

Spotlight on the Responsible Business Standard
Contemporary business people working in team in the office

Benefits of the Responsible Business Standard

The Responsible Business Standard is intended to provide SMEs with a business advantage. It offers ethical credentials that are officially recognised at the national level. Buyers, both at the individual and corporate level, often look for ethical and responsible businesses. The ORB developed the standard as a means for SMEs to gain advantages when doing business securing contracts, including public sector procurement opportunities. The Responsible Business Standard also attracts business by telling clients, customers and other stakeholders that a SME is committed to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. The standard also promotes best practice within the company. It also helps attract, retain and motivate employees.

ORB’s Responsible Business Standard also provides an alternative to Fairtrade and similar certifications, which can be costly for smaller businesses to obtain. The Responsible Business Standard is designed to be easily accessible to SMEs with progressive achievement levels and affordable entry and audit costs. The standard is offered at bronze, silver and gold levels. Each level reflects the company’s performance with respect to ethical and sustainable business practices, with gold being the highest level of achievement. Certification typically lasts for two years, with an interim review conducted during the certification period.

Contact Information

For additional information about the Responsible Business Standard, contact the Organisation for Responsible Business Ltd at 84 Wimborne Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 4JR, UK. Enquires may also be directed by email to [email protected] or by ringing 0845 459 9749. Or visit

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