Research - 06.10.2011 - 00:00 

Corporate responsibility in SMEs

HSG’s Institute for Business Ethics supports the sustainable development of business responsibility in small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


5 October 2011. What about corporate responsibility in mid-sized businesses? The “compamedia Foundation for the Promotion of Ethical Business Practices” has interviewed 2,000 medium-sized businesses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The result: Even though corporate responsibility is a topic of increasing economic and strategic relevance for SMEs, nearly 40 percent of the interviewees do not plan their actions systematically and have no strategy for assuring corporate responsibility. To manage truly responsibly, businesses need guidance and a certain obligation in dealing with suppliers, employees, competitors, resources or corruption.

Instilling an ethical self-concept

The “Ethics in Business” initiative helps SMEs recognize their managerial responsibility and instill their usually quite-pronounced ethical self-concept systematically into their companies. They do this with the help of a company comparison, which Prof. Dr. Thomas Beschorner, head of the Institute for Business Ethics, has developed with his team. On the basis of a benchmark report – a kind of assessment that compares one’s own work with that of other participants – companies learn to continually improve their actions in a learning community.

Seal of approval for companies

Businesses that are already very good or well on their way join together in a so-called “Ethics in Business” guild. With a seal of approval, they commit to ethical management and declare their intention to continually improve. As part of that process, they participate in another comparison every three years. Thus, the members of the guild promote the idea of ethical management while also promoting their companies.

Sustainability in SMEs
HSG and compamedia GmbH, a mentor of small and medium-sized businesses in Germany, also work together on the “Top Job” initiative. HSG Prof. Dr. Heike Bruch manages the project. For the past six years, Bruch, a professor of business administration, has examined the employer qualities of German mid-sized businesses. During that period, she has analyzed more than 1,000 companies and has gained profound insights into the their human-resources operations. The results of her analyses help young professionals and those who are changing jobs find work.

Picture: Photocase / Piefoto

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