Research project in the spotlight at Responsible Business Forum

Deputy First Minister delivers keynote address at Craiglockhart

Date posted

25 February 2016


Last updated

16 July 2019

Edinburgh Napier and Voluntary Action Fund (VAF), one of Scotland’s biggest independent grant-makers, welcomed Deputy First Minister John Swinney to a ground-breaking Responsible Business Forum today.

Around 100 businesses attended the Craiglockhart event, the first of its kind in Scotland, to network and learn about creating closer links with third sector organisations.

They heard from companies who have committed to the Scottish Business Pledge, including Hearts FC, GSK and KCP, about the impacts on their business, employees and their local communities.

John Swinney used his keynote speech to announce that Edinburgh Napier had signed up to the Pledge, a voluntary code for companies to commit to the best of modern business practices. The partnership between government and business entails commitment to fair, sustainable and progressive policies that boost productivity, fairness and increase diversity.

The Forum was jointly organised by VAF, which has distributed more than £17m in grants to over 500 charities across Scotland over the last 12 months and Edinburgh Napier, with the support of the Scottish Government and Enterprise Networks.

The aim was to help boost inclusive growth by strengthening the relationships between all sectors and highlighting best practice.

The event also offered the chance to take part in innovative research by VAF and the University which will lead to a new cross sector approach to a more sustainable future for our communities.

The two bodies are engaged in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, running to February 2017, “to design a grant making platform that connects the CSR activities of Scottish Businesses and the real and emerging needs in Scotland and the Third Sector”

Dr Miles Weaver from our Business School led a session at the Forum which saw focus groups discuss perceptions of corporate social responsibility and provide feedback on best practice in the area.

Dr Weaver, Principal Investigator of VAFConnect Research Project and lecturer in operations and SCM, said: “The Responsible Business Forum provides an opportunity to share good practice and get behind the Scottish Government Business Pledge. It’s only when we work together and forge relationships between sectors that we can address the challenges facing Scotland’s communities today and tomorrow.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The Scottish Business Pledge is a shared mission between the Scottish Government and businesses, with the goal of boosting productivity, competitiveness, employment, fair work and inclusive growth. 

“By making their Pledge, more than 200 companies have demonstrated their commitment to shared values and to delivering them through their actions and future plans. This event recognises all that businesses across Scotland already do to improve lives and communities, and builds on that by highlighting ways to work collaboratively to achieve more.”

Keith Wimbles, Chief Executive of VAF, said: “The Responsible Business Forum provides a great opportunity to connect forward-thinking businesses with the third sector to better utilise limited resources within communities, based on shared values and understanding.

“At a time of growing inequality it is more important than ever for both sectors to strengthen relationships and work more closely in order to help build a fairer and stronger Scotland.”

A panel discussion took place at the Forum led by GlaxoSmithKline, Heart of Midlothian Football Club, Virgin Money, KCP Ltd and PR Print and Design, to discuss the concept of a responsible business and Community Engagement and the role it plays in the Scottish Business Pledge.

Ann Park, Head of Commercial Operations at Heart of Midlothian Football Club, commented: “The Scottish Business Pledge has provided an ideal framework for rebuilding the club and restoring its reputation as a force for good in football and in the wider community.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director, Strategy and Sectors, Scottish Enterprise concluded the Forum by highlighting how companies can take action, embracing responsible business not as a ‘tick box’ exercise but as a strategy-driven route to delivering real business benefits.

Making the Scottish Business Pledge involves Edinburgh Napier meeting the core commitment of paying the living wage to all of employees and a longer term commitment to achieve all nine elements of the pledge. We are well on our way to meeting a number of these already by supporting workforce engagement, pursing international opportunities and ensuring a focus on diversity and gender balance.