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‘Business route to make the world better’

07/04/04

Digby Jones

Confederation of British Industry

Business is the number one route to a more prosperous and safer society and can make the world a better place Confederation of British Industry boss Digby Jones told an audience of key business leaders, at a major conference in Manchester.

His theme was that business made the world go round - it creates wealth, which generates jobs and, therefore, taxes to pay for schools and hospitals, and so affects everyone's life. But the world of work had changed dramatically, and savvy business people knew that corporate social responsibility was good for the business, the employees, in whom it generated motivation and productivity, and the community. He said, CSR had to be part of the "DNA" of a company with everyone involved because they wanted to be. He also hit out at red tape, saying regulation was an imposition on the free spirit of business. It was important to have rules, for example on health and safety, but over-regulation, especially in areas like CSR was counter-productive.

John Roberts, the chief executive of United Utilities, echoed the view that corporate responsibility made good business sense. The Warrington-based group spends around £3m a year on community and environmental projects in the
UK.

Mr Roberts said there was more public awareness about ethical issues in business, and apart from price and quality, customers increasingly wanted to know "what lies behind" a product.
He said that many of the pressures placed on business would previously have been handled by the government, but, he added that these days governments cannot address social challenges alone. Business now needs to address a wider range of issues, including human rights, poverty and environmental concerns, especially climate change.




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