Ray Riddoch: Responsible for their own actions '“ how businesses can help transform communities

For many UK businesses right now, it's not ­'˜business as usual'. Across the ­country, enterprises '“ large and small '“ have their eye on much more than the bottom line. Their business ­strategy for long-term financial ­success is grounded in a commitment to create stronger communities and a healthy environment. We call this responsible business.

As Prince Charles’s responsible business ambassador for ­Scotland and a member of Business in the Community (BITC) Scotland’s ­advisory board, I have the pleasure of getting to know these visionary responsible businesses.

BITC runs an annual award ­programme to ­celebrate their achievements, showcasing the significant social value and positive ­environmental impact being ­delivered by organisations across the UK and internationally.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Now in its 19th year, these prestigious awards recognise a wide range of positive business activities such as supporting rural communities, ­helping young people develop skills for the future and investing in the wellbeing of employees.

A Scottish enterprise took home one of the major awards in 2016. ­Glasgow Caledonian University won the BITC Education Award for its ­Caledonian Club project.

Since 2008, the ­Caledonian Club has worked with more than 11,000 ­children and ­parents to help break the cycle of ­deprivation in five ­Glasgow communities. Their goal is to raise aspirations and develop key life skills to help children reach their full potential.

Other Scottish companies have done very well in our regional awards and reached the finals for the UK awards. Rabbie’s Trail Burners won Scotland SME of the Year Award. This group tour company has ­created a classic model of sustainable ­tourism with its “small is beautiful” philosophy. Enterprise Rent-A-Car won the Scotland Large Company of the Year Award for its diverse, well-rounded and practical approach to responsible business.

Élan Hair Design, in Aberdeenshire, was a finalist for the UK Asda Environmental Leadership Award. The salon has been transformed into an eco-friendly business by investing in new technologies and ­devising new waste management systems.

We’ve learned a great deal from these award-winning businesses. One the lessons is the critical importance of leadership. Responsible business has purposeful leaders who drive leadership at every level across the business in order to understand where their business can have most impact by identifying those material issues that are of greatest importance to both commercial success and key stakeholders, as well as the long-term benefit to society.

It needs to understand how to take advantage of the opportunities brought by digital innovation such as more efficient use of resources and access to new markets, as well as managing the unintended consequences, for example cybersecurity, changing access to jobs and ­inequality.

As a society, we need to move from a ‘do less harm’ approach to one where business is a genuine force for good, creating competitive advantages, meeting changing customer needs and attracting, retaining and developing the best talent.

BITC Scotland is working hard to develop the responsible business agenda. We recognise collaboration as a force for good, with BITC ­members coming together to brainstorm how to build social, environmental and economic sustainability in our communities.

We encourage members to have a positive impact through three ­distinct areas of work – education, good work and community engagement.

Education and future skills are linked to nurturing dreams and aspirations while supporting lifelong learning. This means good quality jobs for our diverse population and opportunities for career progression through continuing education.

I’m keen to promote the excellent work being carried out by responsible businesses in Scotland. ­Winning a responsible business award is the most coveted and distinguished endorsement of the commitment to build social, environmental and ­economic sustainability in our ­communities.

If your business is embracing the responsible business agenda, I encourage you to enter. There is no entry fee and the awards are open to any private sector business. The deadline is 9 February; there’s still time for Scottish companies to get the recognition they deserve.

Ray Riddoch is Prince Charles’s responsible business ambassador for Scotland.