Produced by the Chartered Management Institute, the guide argues that corporate responsibility is now more important than the more widely recognised term, ‘corporate social responsibility’. It suggests that community and environmental concerns are critical, but suggests that focusing on these issues in a ‘social’ context relegates them to little more than a ‘bolt-on’ to business operations.

Reminding directors about their legal obligation to produce a Business Review that addresses the needs of internal and external stakeholders, the guide focuses on key reasons for adopting formal corporate responsibility policies. These include

. reputation management – demonstrating commitment to the workplace, community, marketplace and environment to enhance the brand name, something that 55 per cent of managers believe is regularly under threat

. recruitment and retention – over 80 per cent of managers view ‘organisational culture and values’ as a strong motivational driver. Communicating these can help attract and retain the best talent

. innovation and learning – just 16 per cent believe innovation is a challenge for organisations, but environmental and social concerns are often blamed for restricting new activities. The guide highlights how effective corporate responsibility can harness innovation

To capitalise on the benefits of corporate responsibility, the guide offers organisations advice on how to develop an effective corporate responsibility policy. Areas to consider include:

. identifying the key risks and opportunities for your organisation
. engaging with stakeholders throughout the process
. setting performance indicators so activity can be measured
. regularly revisiting the policy to ensure it is driving business goals

Commenting on the need for a structured approach to corporate responsibility activities, Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “”Evidence exists to suggest that the majority of UK organisations are struggling to recruit and retain enough talented people and in the current economic climate the same could be said for securing the customer base.

In such tough market conditions, organisations would do well to realise that adopting a responsible and accountable approach to their actions holds real business benefits, making them appealing to staff and stakeholders, alike.”