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Better business better Scotland


The report provides an overview of corporate responsibility in Scotland, highlighting examples of best practice and suggestions for improvement. It aims to inform the debate on the role business can and should play in creating a fairer and greener Scotland by identifying the barriers to changing corporate behaviour, and suggesting ways to encourage more responsible business practices.


The report is based on evidence from research conducted by Social Value Lab between August and October 2015. It draws on information and views from: a nationwide survey of business leaders from a cross-section of 1,052 businesses registered in Scotland and operating for at least three years; an analysis of the corporate social responsibility and reporting practices among Scotland’s 500 leading companies, including a review of publicly available material relating to the Insider Top500 companies, a group of businesses that collectively has a turnover of £191.3 billion and 731,627 employees; and a series of 34 semi-structured interviews with established business leaders and several of the organisations that represent and support Scotland’s business community.


The report finds that corporate responsibility is becoming more widespread and while companies are driven by a financial bottom line, they may go further, exhibiting progressive and responsible behaviours often with limited or no expectation of a return. It is suggested that social and environmental issues will take on increasing meaning for companies over coming years, however the report also notes that few companies currently report fully or systematically on their social or environmental performance. The report indicates that corporate responsibility often happens intrinsically and in an unplanned way, resulting in many instances going unreported, which can be a challenge when reporting on progress. It is also suggested that progress can be uneven and insufficient in some companies, as their case for corporate responsibility is less well defined and has not been accepted. The report suggests that with regards to issues of fairness and equality, and particularly achieving gender diversity in the boardroom, some companies are not living up to their stated values. A willingness among companies to do more is identified, however it is noted that they face a number of challenges which could impact on their corporate responsibility agenda, including intense competition, tight profit margins, limited working capital, and the financial burden of meeting existing and planned obligations. The report finds that there is a role for government alongside others in encouraging better business in Scotland by promoting social value and environmental goals. It concludes that aspirations must be clear and based on a shared understanding of the business behaviours that are both realistic and desirable, and accompanied by continuing evidence, dialogue, encouragement and support for business.


The report does not make any recommendations.

Author Social Value Lab
Published Year 2016
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Company specific
  • Equity
    Equal opportunities