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Four in Five Britons Distrust Ethical Business Claims

Groundbreaking Accreditation Scheme Launched to Rebuild Public Trust in Socially and Environmentally Responsible Business

Research released today highlights an alarming trend of increasing scepticism and distrust of ethical claims made by companies. Four in five Britons[1] believe many companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more products, compared to just over two-thirds[2] in 2005. Almost 80%[3] are also of the opinion that companies need to back up their ethical claims with proof.

The research, by Ipsos MORI for SEE Potential, has been published to coincide with the launch of SEE Companies, a groundbreaking accreditation scheme.

SEE Companies accreditation differentiates businesses that are able prove their SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL and ETHICAL (SEE) claims from those that are not. It helps people base purchasing, employment and investment decisions on SEE criteria. Accredited companies are licensed to display the SEE Companies Logo on packaging and marketing materials, making identification easy.

Michael Solomon, founder and managing director of SEE Potential comments: ‘In the past two years, concern over issues like global poverty, working conditions in the developing world, species extinction and climate change has become more widespread. Business has reacted with claims of increasing responsibility.

‘In some cases these claims have been based on solid SEE policies and practices but in others they have not. Until now it has been incredibly difficult to identify genuine SEE business. The launch of SEE Companies tackles this problem head on’.

The SEE Companies initiative is unique. It is the only SEE-focussed scheme that accredits companies, not individual products. It encompasses a broad range of SEE issues, not a single issue. It is transparent, with both the questions asked and responses given published. It is robust, with four separate checks in place to ensure the credibility of accreditation.

To become a SEE Company, a business must answer 35 challenging questions. The questions have been developed by SEE Potential, the company behind SEE Companies, and leading SEE authorities including ActionAid, Christian Aid, the Commission for Racial Equality, Tax Justice Network, World Land Trust and Survival International.

Responses must meet the guidelines attached to each question and, where necessary, be supported with evidence to back-up the company’s claims. Subsequently, the company must guarantee that all the information it has supplied is accurate, true and complete. The final stage of accreditation is the publication of the company’s responses on, in the public domain for scrutiny and monitoring.

Julian Oram, Policy Officer, Trade and Corporates Team, ActionAid UK, adds: ‘ActionAid believes that increased transparency is vital for greater confidence in the information provided by business. Annual reports tend to be limited in scope. The SEE Companies initiative focuses corporate attention on a wide range of areas, requiring businesses to consider how their policies and practices affect societies and the environment.’

Before formally embarking upon accreditation, companies are encouraged to take a free, no obligation trial. This allows each company to use the online SEE Questionnaire Manager to draft responses to several questions, evaluate the process and determine whether it believes accreditation is achievable.

Michael Solomon continues: ‘Accreditation is challenging because it requires transparency on all SEE issues. The level of scrutiny required for accreditation may, at first, be uncomfortable for some businesses. However, they should take reassurance from the fact that people do not have unrealistic expectations of business, they just prefer more straight-talking: nine out of ten[4] believe it’s better for companies to be honest rather than pretend to be squeaky clean.’

SEE Companies accreditation is open to businesses in the private and public sectors. The accreditation fee is split into two payments. A one off flat fee of GBP 500 is payable when a company commits to accreditation; an annual licensing fee* is payable by accredited companies, allowing them to use the SEE Companies Logo and list on

Companies wishing to take advantage of the free trial should contact SEE Potential on

020 7749 0630. Further information about SEE Companies can be found at

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:

[1] 79%
[2] 68%
[3] 79%
[4] 91%

* Breakdown of licence fees (all figures quoted are GBP):

Company Turnover: Annual Licence Fee (ex VAT)

Up to 250,000: GBP 300
250k to 1m: GBP 500
1m to 2.5m: GBP 800
2.5m to 5m: GBP 1,000
5m to 10m: GBP 1,500
10m to 50m: GBP 2,500
50m to 100m: GBP 5,000
100m to 200m: GBP 10,000
200m to 500m: GBP 20,000
500m and above: Subject to negotiation


Research conducted via face-to-face omnibus from 13th to 19th May 2005 and 31st Aug to 6th Sep 2007 by Ipsos MORI’s Global Omnibus Services division. A nationally representative sample of just under 1000 adults 15+ in GB were interviewed (in both the 2005 and 2007 surveys), with data subsequently weighted to the known profile of this population. The survey was carried out via Ipsos MORI’s Face to Face Omnibus.

About SEE Potential

SEE Potential is a for-profit business. Its mission is to:

· Set the highest standards of SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL and ETHICAL (SEE) corporate policy and practice in collaboration with leading authorities

· Empower people in making purchasing, employment and investment decisions based on SEE criteria

· Build the business case for adopting credible SEE policies and practices

The company was founded on the principle that businesses should combine the pursuit of financial returns with the highest SEE standards.

For further information please contact Kevin Redfern or Gemma Brown at REDPEAR:

Tel: 020 7033 9990
Email: /

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