Taking the Responsible Business Standard (RBS) online course was the first thing I did as a new employee at Organisation for Responsible Businesses (ORB). Here are some of my thoughts on how it fits into ORB’s philosophy that there is a better way of doing business.

The RBS course is the basis for all the RBS certifications. Priced at £15 per annum, it is well worth gaining access if you haven’t already done so. Anyone hoping to achieve RBS accreditation must complete the course first. This course also readily benefits those who are not at that stage but feel that ‘responsibility’ speaks to their current or intended business values.


A worthy investment


Instead of a large financial commitment, the RBS course requires moral commitment. Working through the course honestly will really set the tone of your responsible business journey. It will help you to develop a trustworthy, conscientious business from all angles.

Packed with resources and ideas and easily navigable, think of it like a comprehensive responsible business roadmap. By providing a clear critical yardstick, the course can help you to:


  • Create a responsible business
  • Adapt to become a responsible business
  • Recognise responsible business practices you have in place already but don’t market or make known
  • Make a clear plan of areas to develop or improve, using course content and resources as a reference


Once you’ve bought the course, you can access it at any time. The maximum time it would take you to complete is up to 25 hours — if you’re combing through carefully and taking notes. That’s what I did.

I think experienced business owners would probably take considerably less time. I worked diligently through the course in a linear fashion, but you can dip in and out of various sections. Whatever feels right for you.

On completion, accessing it every so often can re-focus your business vision and serve as a reminder to keep building upon good business practice. You can also evaluate if you are ready to try for RBS certification, provided your business has been established for at least 12 months.


Is my business or organisation the right fit?


Essentially, the RBS course provides fundamental knowledge for anyone looking to ensure that they are actioning responsible business practices across their whole model. It requires more contemplation than ticking boxes or clicking through multiple choice, but it is never a jargon-packed headache. Think of it as a clearly guided ‘soul-searching’ exercise.

It is designed to be so accessible and expansive, that all these groups can benefit from it:


  • Sole traders
  • Pre-start and Start-ups
  • Micro-businesses (0-9 employees)
  • Small businesses (10-49 employees)
  • Medium-sized businesses (50-249 employees)
  • Large businesses (250+ employees)
  • Charities, social enterprises, and other organisations


What about my team?


You have the option to buy access for relevant employees or associates at a special rate of £12 per person. This is essential for businesses where personal communication between employees is distanced by hierarchy, or mission creep has meant that different departments are on different pages.

The RBS course works best if it facilitates collaboration and transparency. Your responsible business practices will eventually filter through to all employees, suppliers, freelancers, and consumers so it makes sense to include others in the self-assessment process.

So, a rough guide would be, if you employ 10+ people then it’s ideal to involve more than one of you in evaluating where you are right now. It is much harder to assess from a single vantage point.


My take on the Responsible Business course


I don’t have a business background, but the course benefitted me greatly. I came to understand the operational assessment and planning required for the kind of responsible businesses I want to see. Oriented as a ‘consumer’, I’ve always preferred supporting businesses who espouse environmental and social responsibility.

But maybe I’ve missed some in the past because they aren’t aware that they could market themselves this way?

Doing this course made me wonder how many businesses might not be tapping into their potential to make their values and good business practices known.

It’s not about every kind of goods and service provider fitting into a strict box e.g., anti-profit martyrdom.

If, say, I was online looking for a tailoring and repairs shop near me and one made clear their commitment to the Circular Economy; their positive community impact and their family business roots, I would rather go to that one over another.

My one-off trip would almost certainly turn into repeat business and multiple recommendations to people in the area. ORB’s slogan bears repeating — doing good is good for business.

For an increasing amount of people, I think, spending habits and customer loyalty depends upon businesses being transparent and openly professing the steps they’ve taken to make a difference.

I really enjoyed seeing how stringent this process can become if the commitment is made. I am much more aware of basic legalities but also further policies which when enacted, take a business from ‘in line’ to forward facing, aspirational and commendable.


Committing to responsible business practice isn’t easy but it’s also not that hard!


The RBS course provides a purpose-led, practical ‘behind the scenes’ of how positive change can be implemented. Instead of relying on vague platitudes or ‘one size fits all’ solutions, the nuts and bolts are revealed.

The course includes suggestions that prompt brainstorms for you. This creativity should be encouraged: going beyond reputational risk mitigation requires innovation and this is what leads to long-term value and new market opportunities.

As with many things in life, expending effort is necessary but steps that seem complicated are quite simple with the right tools. The RBS course provides vital awareness of where to set your sights and how to get there. The optional online Zoom sessions that come with an active subscription to the course can help to iron out any queries that arise from the course content too.


Looking ahead


Since taking the course, I’ve applied to become a sole trader offering a purpose-led writing service in addition to my role at ORB. While this may not involve managing a team or supply chain, I now have a clear policy in mind for assessing the profile of clients.

I’ve also become much more aware of the contingencies and steps I’d need to have in place if I ever feel a spurt of entrepreneurship!

I’m certain that the businesses able to withstand future instability are not only committed to applying solutions to their own systems but are showing commitment to a movement that embraces the complexity of the current challenges facing our planet and population.

Joining a movement like Organisation for Responsible Businesses ensures that you have a network and can access advice for co-navigating large-scale solutions. We face structural issues that are bigger than all of us.

Making steps towards responsible practices, however small at first, ensures that your business is part of the common good.


I recommend accessing the RBS course as soon as you can. Making sure you’re aware of the big picture of your business means you can join the dots more easily when it comes to the movement towards a just and regenerative world.

Responsible Business & Social Value Course