Accenture and Rehumanize Institute surveyed nearly 400 business executives in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the US. We also conducted more than 20 in-depth interviews. Our research indicates that a four-step framework can help companies be responsible in today’s world:
- Consider all decisions through a future-focused lens.
- Set an intentional direction through Impact Leadership.
- Engage internal and external ecosystems.
- Use explicit responsible business indicators to measure and assess progress.
1. Future Focus: Explore what drives long-term impact
To set priorities, organizations need to develop a map that shows what their options are. Specifically, this means exploring potential scenarios, conducting trend and technology research, articulating what success will look like, and creating explicit supports to achieve success—for example, by aligning formal continuous learning throughout the organization to that end.
2. Impact Leadership: Set the intentional direction
Becoming a responsible organization requires intent at the heart of the company. Senior leadership teams at the leading responsible businesses were more than two times more likely than those furthest behind the curve in our study to say that it’s very important to them personally that their organization is a responsible business.
The organization should see it and feel it daily through systems, management practices, and management attitudes. In this way, being a responsible business is always in view; ultimately it becomes part of the company’s culture. As being responsible becomes a default company practice, it also affects the business ecosystem, influencing partner relationships.
3. Ecosystem Action: Turn the intent into the concrete
Ecosystem Action is about how the organization cooperates and sets up new processes to become a responsible business leader, both internally and externally. It’s about making responsible business engrained in the whole organization, not just a small, dedicated unit. And it’s about leveraging the power of the entire ecosystem—suppliers, partners, customers—to drive responsible business initiatives in practice through concrete action.
4. Responsible Business Indicators: Make actions impactful and measurable
Responsible Business Indicators—i.e., KPIs that are specifically oriented towards setting targets and measuring progress within the Responsible Business agenda—play a huge part in becoming a truly responsible business. By establishing explicit Responsible Business Indicators, communicating them externally, and reporting on progress, the organization pushes itself to improve.
At Accenture, for example, stakeholders can access metrics related to responsibility in one place on the company’s website and further explore what frameworks and standards that the company is currently reporting against.