“The line between business and society no longer exists,” says Baroness Sally Greengross, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group (APCRG). “The issues we’re facing are so huge that we need more collaboration to bring about change.”

Not only can businesses help to tackle some of the most pressing social challenges, but as Baroness Greengross says, “investing in things like staff welfare and helping staff retrain to keep their skills sharp is also good for business and that’s good for the economy.”

Members of the APCRG, including MPs, Peers and business leaders, aim to promote debate and understanding of responsible business practices among parliamentarians and the wider business community to affect change on a very practical level.

The line between business and society no longer exists

One way the group are encouraging MPs to celebrate responsible businesses within their own constituencies is through the APCRG Responsible Business Champions award scheme. Each year MPs are invited to nominate an outstanding business in their constituency as their Constituency Responsible Business Champion. The aim of the scheme is to encourage MPs to consider which local business is currently doing most to support their constituents and to celebrate that support for their local community.

Nominations for both small and large businesses showcase a whole range of diverse and innovative solutions, reaffirming the huge opportunity and potential within the business community to influence society for the better. Among those nominated for the award in 2016 were a small civil engineering company who are investing in a diverse workforce between the ages of 16 to 81 years of age; a London-based international estate agent involved in urban regeneration; and a hair dressing salon that supports other local SMEs. The range clearly demonstrates how large the scope and remit of responsible businesses is.

As we look to the future, Baroness Greengross believes that businesses could play an even more vital role in tackling some of the country’s greatest social problems. “We’re facing the issue of an ageing workforce and also the growing number of chronic health conditions,” says Baroness Greengross. “Responsible business practices could really help us to tackle those issues.”

We’re facing the issue of an ageing workforce and also the growing number of chronic health conditions

With support from other government departments and the greater use of technology Baroness Greengross believes we will see more and more companies of all shapes and sizes encouraging the ongoing training and development of staff alongside promoting health and wellbeing. Embedding commerce into the community and generating improved personal outcomes in parallel with better business performance is clearly in the best interests for everyone, government included.