THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS
We are at an exciting time on the planet.
Yes I say that a lot – but I do truly believe that to be the case.
Most of my life (excluding a brief foray into archaeology) I have worked in business.
Whether that’s for large corporations, smaller SME’s or in the last 11 years since I have been running Beyond Human Stories, a wide array of limited companies, multi-nationals, community interest companies and social enterprise. I have also worked with educational institutions and multiple not for profits, many of which are now run like businesses due to the way funding streams are structured and allocated.
Yet in the last year during a global pandemic, the world of ‘business’ has been able to stop, catch our collective breath, and take a good long look at what is truly important.
Organisations who have been able to do this effectively and with depth, are now starting to come back from lockdowns into new ways of operating with purpose that will shape their impact and prosperity in the months and years to come.
Of course there has also been a high number of businesses that due to various social, environmental and economic factors have simply not been able survive. This is sad and yet also presents an opportunity to take a long deep look at the health of the wider business landscape.
What values are we talking and walking in why and how we do business?
Are these in service of the health of our communities and customers?
Are these helping or harming our global ecosystems and environment?
Are we really operating with a purpose that serves collective good (both people and planet) or are we focussing on profit to the detriment of all else?
The reality is that most organisations sit somewhere in the middle of these things and strive on a day to day basis to balance them. This is not an easy feat and is a process that requires deep honesty and perseverance to understand.
Having worked in the fields of sustainability and corporate responsibility for many years now, it is an ethical and operational struggle that I have walked many businesses through.
How do we remain sustainable on a commercial level, whilst upholding the core values of our business and operate as ethically as possible?
How do we really understand what it is that would serve and add true value to our communities and customers?
How can we be responsible for our social and environmental impact, all whilst creating products and offerings that deliver what people most need.
Tough questions for tough times.
But there are networks and frameworks that can support us in tackling them.
One of these that I have been working with for a few years now is that of B Corp.
B Corp caught my attention in 2019 as one of the fastest emerging ethical business frameworks and certifications in the world. Founded in the US in 2007, with 82 original companies it has now grown to a network of 3720 businesses across the world in 150 industries and 74 countries!
Having taken a few businesses through the process of becoming a certified B Corp, I can honestly say that in addition to this being the most holistic and robust certifications I have yet seen, it is one of the most exciting global business networks in the world right now.
Using ‘Business as a force for good’ is the principle on which certified organisations of multiple sizes from multiple industries are gathering around to explore some of the tough questions of our times. I have been personally blown away by the power of collaboration that is happening in this fast growing network and inspired by companies that previously would have been in competition, coming together to innovate and find solutions to key issues such as net zero commitments to climate and carbon, building better economies and gathering under the ‘better business act’ in the UK to encourage the government to hold all businesses accountable and responsible for their impacts and ways of operating.
It would seem that connection and collaboration are fast becoming the guiding principles upon which networks of purpose driven sustainable business are working.
This month is B Corp month.
If you haven’t heard of them already – check them out.
Restory business from the inside out.
Whether you are a one person entrepreneur, an ethics driven customer or a member of a team in a larger organisation, you have the power to make your true values the core of what you do and how you do it.
By choosing the businesses that you engage with and buy from, you can truly change the landscape of what is rewarded economically.
Business for good is a story that’s time has come.
Will you play your part in it?