15 October 2018

Business South calls Champions to shape Responsible South

Thirty business leaders from the Solent region gathered on Friday 5th October to hear about Responsible South, a new initiative backed by Business South to support organisations building a fairer and more sustainable society


Many businesses already undertake a range of activities to reduce their environmental impact, promote equality and engage with the wider community. At the event at St Mary’s Stadium, Mark Smith, Chief Executive of Southern Co-op, and Steve Kenzie, Executive Director of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact Network UK, demonstrated how these activities could align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Mark Smith, acting as Ambassador for Responsible South, said, “Responsible business is how a business makes money, not just how it spends its profits. Our premise is that business cannot operate in a vacuum – if society is not flourishing, business cannot flourish in the long term.”

Mark made the business case for tackling the Sustainable Development Goals both in terms of sales success and recruiting and retaining talent. Research quoted by the UN shows that 78% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that support the goals and 76% of millennials consider a company’s sustainability commitments when deciding where to work. This is a particularly strong driver of change in a region like the south of England, with low unemployment and where competition for the best talent is intense. 

Steve Kenzie highlighted that the Sustainable Development Goals represent “a pro-business agenda” and he urged attendees to familiarise themselves with the 17 goals and the 169 specific targets that sit beneath them. He also shared some resources designed to help businesses take measurable and practical steps to support achieving the Goals.

Justine Taylor-Knightbridge, Commercial Partnerships Manager at Solent University, shared another resource, when she introduced delegates to the Business South Community Involvement Toolkit. This gives businesses actionable ideas to help them support their local community.

Delegates then discussed what actions they were already taking which contributed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. They also identified what barriers they faced to progress. Mark Smith concluded by asking for volunteers to work with him to continue the momentum generated in the discussions and build Responsible South from an idea into a movement.

Shirley Anderson, Chair of Business South action group, Workforce South, who are backing the initiative, said it was positive to see so many businesses that are already taking action within their company and the next step would be to support, promote and learn from the Champions involved.

For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, visit

If any Champions are interested in becoming involved in Responsible South, contact Anna Hales at Business South

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