Business Purpose Commission report: Scottish Government response

The Business Purpose Commission for Scotland published its report, “Now is the time for purpose: putting purpose at the heart of Scottish business”, on 28 June 2022. This publication is our response to the recommendations made to the Scottish Government in the Commission's report.

Strategic Context

The Commission chose to work with the British Academy definition of business purpose. This states the purpose of a business is, "to find profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet, and not profit from creating problems for either."

The Report is extensive and correctly identifies strategic alignment between business purpose and the Scottish Government's wider ambitions for a fairer, wealthier and greener economy. The Scottish Government is committed to tackling child poverty, achieving a just transition to net zero, improving environmental sustainability, becoming a Fair Work Nation, and building a wellbeing economy, which is described as "an economic system operating within safe environmental limits that serves and prioritises the collective wellbeing of current and future generations". Purposeful businesses have a vital role to play in contributing to these agendas.

In the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET), the Scottish Government's first economic strategy to explicitly emphasise wellbeing, we have committed to deliver prosperity for all of Scotland's people and places and transition to a wellbeing economy. Scotland's business communities are recognised as key partners in pursuing a fairer, wealthier, greener country. We have made a specific commitment in NSET to "Build on the findings from the Business Purpose Commission Report, to inform how businesses can deliver positive impacts on prosperity, wellbeing – including tackling child poverty – and environmental sustainability."

The Programme for Government 2022 to 2023 also sets out our ambition to create a better future beyond the cost crisis. A focus on actions to support resilience to future shocks is in alignment with the Commission's message on the business benefits of business purpose, which include profitability, resilience, and longevity.

The National Strategy for Economic Transformation identifies five transformational policy programmes to drive improvements in Scotland's economy. These focus on stimulating entrepreneurship; opening new markets; increasing productivity; developing the skills we need for the decade ahead; and ensuring fairer and more equal economic opportunities. Each of these is relevant to the discussion on purposeful business in the Report.

Below are some examples of current Government commitments which align with the purposeful business agenda and the Commission's recommendations:

  • Publish a refreshed Fair Work Action Plan and introduce Fair Work conditionality for Scottish Government grants, subject to devolved competence.
  • Undertake a review of how best to significantly increase the number of social enterprises, employee-owned businesses and cooperatives in Scotland.
  • Launch a consultation on Community Wealth Building legislation in addition to the 2021/22 commitment to introduce Community Wealth Building legislation in this parliamentary term.
  • Support the Green and Sustainable Financial Services Taskforce which has been established to transition Scotland into a global leader for Green and Sustainable financial services.
  • Establish an investor panel, led by the First Minister, to convene investors to discuss how they are investing in the infrastructure that Scotland needs to ensure a just transition to net zero emissions.
  • Intensify work to realise the trade, export and inward investment opportunities critical for Scotland's economic success. Action 1 of the Inward Investment Plan commits to placing our values at the centre of our engagement with current and potential inward investors. To ensure a strong partnership basis to our relationships around promoting sustainable, inclusive growth and creating a wellbeing economy with zero carbon and fair work at its core.
  • Following publication of the Environment Strategy, publish a 'pathway' exploring how the Scottish Government can help drive the just transition to a net zero, nature-positive, circular economy.
  • Introduce a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (WSD) Bill. The Bill is intended to strengthen Scotland's National Outcomes and ensure the interests of future generations are built into the decisions made today.



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