Certification designed specifically for small businesses
Benefits of certification
Whilst operating ethically and responsibly and making a positive contribution to society is unquestionably a moral obligation, embracing this approach is also increasingly a business imperative.
In today’s society only businesses that adapt to a better way of doing business will be profitable and sustainable for the long term.
The demands of society have changed, particularly the expectations of a younger generation.
Your children and grandchildren care about people and the planet. Do you? Are you able to tell them your business plays an appropriate role in making this world a better place?
And what about other stakeholders: employees, suppliers, customers, local community, lenders, investors, procurement departments…?
Attaining Responsible Business Standard Certification provides a powerful message that sets your business apart. It is verification that your organisation is playing a pro-active role in combating the challenges society currently faces.
- Internally, the certification will become a driver for best practice helping to attract, retain and motivate employees, reduce overheads, and increase operating efficiency.
- Externally it will increase your reputation by demonstrating to all stakeholders that your organisation is transparent, ethical, and considerate of its responsibility to society.
- Throughout the supply chain questions are increasingly being asked relating to social and environmental practices. If a business cannot satisfy those questions, they will not gain/maintain contracts.
- Similarly, consumers are progressively more likely to make purchasing decisions based on the ethical standards of a company. Being able to evidence community engagement and support is particularly important for local consumers.
- In the procurement process businesses need to satisfy specific criteria. A tender application is more likely to be successful if the company has third party certification to demonstrate they meet that criteria, with social value playing an ever more important role. (Many public sector contracts give 10% or even more of the contract rating to social value.)
Why choose the Responsible Business Standard?
- RBS is the only certification of its kind that has been specifically designed for small businesses, including micro businesses with no employees.
- The Responsible Business Standard is a BIG, ROBUST course and certification process but nonetheless written in plain English. There is no academia speak, no jargon, and no complex statistics or analytics required.
- Twice-weekly online support meetings are included at no additional cost.
- We do not believe ‘one size fits all.’ We adopt an approach we call ASTI:
Appropriate to the Size, Type and Impact of the business.
- Using ASTI as the basis, our trained auditors take a very subjective approach. We do not set standardised parameters that are inappropriate for small businesses (other than as legislation dictates) and will never penalise a company because a question or section does not apply.
- In line with the above, we do not offer a series of questions and ask you to tick the option that applies. We ask you to give your specific, unique response to each question.
- We take a very broad approach to responsible business. While caring about people and the environment is the element that sets a business apart, and the essential element of these certifications, nonetheless all organisations need to be efficient, meet and exceed legislation, and have appropriate processes in place.
- The course combined with certification is accredited for 20 credit hours CPD
- We offer several certification options
- Although we have moved the course online, we still offer an upgrade option of an onsite visit in order to achieve the full Responsible Business Standard (businesses with 0-4 employees are exempt.)
The onsite audit upgrade option, which is only applicable for the full Responsible Business Standard Certification, provides an added layer of authenticity and peace of mind for all stakeholders.
Whilst our online processes are robust, evidence-based and assessed by trained auditors, there are inevitably aspects of an organisation that can only be fully gauged by an onsite visit which includes viewing premises and speaking to employees. For example, the bullying culture at Brew Dog, cited by employees only a few months after the company attained B-Corp Certification, would no doubt have come to light with an onsite visit. Experienced auditors can sense the culture of an organisation almost as soon as they arrive!
Available certification options
If you require CPD certification, you are required to work through the whole course. You can choose whether you do this in a linear fashion or an ad hoc basis, but do ensure all sections are fully completed. You will then be required to submit a 700-word (minimum) essay to evidence full understanding of the course content and how it relates to your organisation or your career.
If your application is approved, you will receive appropriate CPD certification but are not entitled to use any of the Responsible Business/Social Value logos.
There is also an option to request a ‘Business Advisors Pledge’ certification. You will be asked to sign a pledge and an additional certificate will be issued for a small admin charge.
Alternatively, see the next section as an option for CPD certification.
If you have worked through the course and feel that your business has reached a sufficient level, you may wish to apply for Monitored Self-Assessment Certification.
This is an excellent process for any size business as you need to not just consider your performance for each topic, but also give yourself a score and brief comment to validate that score.
The certification is also an excellent starting point if you want to take higher levels of certification whether that is our Responsible Business Standard, or even other options such as B-Corp or CSR-A.
This certification requires you to complete the parts of the course that are appropriate to your business. If you have no employees, you can miss out the Workplace section although:
- If you are a charity or not-for-profit organisation, Q10 in Workplace Part 2 may be relevant if you have volunteers and/or any other unpaid personnel;
- Consider specifically if Q10 in Workplace Part 2 may be relevant as this relates to working with contractors and freelancers;
- Although not necessary to complete certification, it may be worth working through the workplace section as an information resource for future expansion plans.
You will also need to complete and submit the full self-assessment spreadsheets to include brief comments as to why you have scored yourself accordingly. This could include details of other forms of certification e.g. ISOs or Investors in People.
Using the scoring sheet, ensure your overall score is at least 60% with no section less than 45%.
You will also be required to confirm that you have completed the course and provided accurate information and sign the following pledge:
We hereby pledge to operate our business in an honest an ethical manner; to consider people and the environment when making business decisions; and endeavour to make a positive contribution to the local community and society at large.
Monitored Self-Assessment Certification is assessed by an internal ORB moderator.
If the application is approved, a Monitored Self-Assessment Certificate will be issued but there is no entitlement to use any of the Responsible Business/Social Value logos.
If your application is approved, this would also provide an optional CPD Certification route if required. There would be no need to submit an essay and just a small additional administration fee would be required to process and issue the additional CPD Certificate. As above, you could also request a Business Advisors Pledge certification.
There is no requirement to re-apply unless you wish to. However, if you are an ORB Member with a preferred listing in the members Responsible Business Directory, you will be required to renew the certification within 3 years to retain the preferred listing.
The first stage of this certification is to complete the Monitored Self-Assessment Certification which relates to each section of the course (unless the workplace section is not relevant for your business.) It is a requirement that this is completed and approved before proceeding to Social Value Certification.
Anyone operating a responsible business should, by default, be providing social value. In other words, the business is making a positive contribution to society as can be evidenced in requirements for the Responsible Business Standard (RBS) Lite
However, although there is a requirement to demonstrate a commitment to supporting the local community in the RBS, the level of commitment, support and engagement is required at a higher level in the Social Value Certification.
Responding to the questions as per the Community Section of the course, you will be required to submit detailed responses and evidence of how you have engaged with and supported your local community over the last one, two or three years – you can choose which time frame.
Social Value Certification is excellent for any business wanting to improve their reputation by showing how committed they are to supporting their local community, but it is particularly important in the public sector supply chain.
Social Value Certification is assessed by an externally trained and certified auditor and overviewed by an internal ORB moderator.
Certification is awarded at BASIC or EXEMPLAR levels
If the application is approved, a Social Value Certificate and detailed report will be issued, and Social Value logos made available.
Social Value Certification should be renewed every three years.
Responsible Business Standard Certification - Lite
You will be required to submit detailed responses and evidence in response to all questions in all sections.
You will not need to complete the Workplace Section if you do not have any employees, unless you work regularly with contractors/freelancers or, in the case of not-for-profit organisations, work with volunteers or other unpaid personnel, in which case just complete the appropriate questions.
RBS Light Touch Certification is assessed and then overviewed by two trained and certified auditors.
If the application is approved, a Responsible Business Standard Lite Certificate with a full report will be issued and RBS Lite logos will be provided.
If a sufficiently high score is achieved in the Community Section, Social Value Certification will also be awarded with separate certification and logos as above.
Certification is awarded at BASIC or EXEMPLAR levels
RBS Lite Certification should be renewed every three years.
Responsible Business Standard Certification - Full
Upon completion of the RBS Lite, you will be offered the opportunity to upgrade to full Responsible Business Standard Certification by having a short onsite audit (micro-businesses with 0-4 employees are exempt.)
As previously mentioned, although our online processes are robust, evidence-based and assessed by trained auditors, there are inevitably aspects of an organisation that can only be fully gauged by an onsite visit which includes viewing premises and speaking to employees.
Upgrading to full certification provides an additional layer of authentication and peace of mind for all stakeholders.
For micro-businesses with 0-4 employees, the additional assessment requires an hour Zoom call with one of the auditors. The cost will be minimal.
For all other businesses, an onsite visit by an auditor will be required in order to view the premises and speak to various personnel. Costs will vary according to the size of the business and location as travel expenses may be incurred.
If the application is approved, a Responsible Business Standard Certificate including a full report will be issued and RBS logos will be provided.
Certification is awarded at BASIC or EXEMPLAR levels
RBS Certification should be renewed every three years.