There is a growing trend across commerce that says businesses should be taking their social responsibility more seriously; they should be supporting employees and communities, protecting the environment and growing the local economy. In fact, there is an argument that these should be the biggest priorities for business – ahead of profit. This idea doesn’t sit well with everyone, however. Without profit, the company struggles, jobs are lost, people suffer.
However, this month, we are discussing ‘purpose before profit’, not necessarily in place of it. So the first question ought to be, ‘what should the company’s purpose be?’, followed by, ‘Can the business really thrive and grow without a profit-first mentality?’ What would the effects on employees, customers, shareholders and the broader economy be?
Maarten Hoffmann: Julie, should we put purpose before profit?
Julie Kapsalis: Can you not put them alongside each other? For me, a better starting point is to say they’re both equally important.
There’s a lot of evidence that, if you run a purpose-led business, that will help drive your profit. In many cases, customers are more and more looking at ‘purpose’, looking at the ESG of those companies. As well as, ‘what does this cost?’, customers are wanting to know, for instance, about a company’s best practices in terms of ESG.
Matt Letley: The two things need to be mutually exclusive; actually, they are completely aligned. I had previously been working for a company where success was defined by corporate values, that’s all I knew. After a while, I got disillusioned with those values as they were misaligned from my own.
I came across B Corp, and led an SME on a transformative change, one that aligned with the stakeholder economy. From there, I found we were able to reduce our supply chain and our environmental impact, while increasing profits for stakeholders.
Richard Singleton: I think you may need to define ‘purpose’. ESG, in different forms, has been around for years, but to suddenly say purpose has to be more important to a business leader running an SME is bonkers. You ask them what that MD’s purpose is, their first purpose is that they employ 100 people, so that they can pay their mortgages, feed their families and so on.
For me, it comes back to ‘people-planet-profit’, and then probably adding ‘purpose’ in there at the end. Most businesses still need to make profit, so I don’t think we can say, ‘purpose has got to be more important’. It’s actually looking at what that purpose may be, and seeing if that will drive profit.
There’s a phrase I like, which is ‘purpose without performance is just PR’. There are many companies just paying lip service to it; mere PR doesn’t help at all.
Sophie Turton: Purpose - for its own sake – doesn’t really mean anything. Every business has a purpose. At the high end of capitalism, for instance, a company floating on the Stock Market, its purpose really is to make profit. And if they don’t make profit, they will not have a business anymore.
It’s very easy for SMEs in this country to mobilise and to be dynamic, because we’ve got a lot more flexibility in the choices that we make. But we really need to be changing the behaviours of the corporates, who should not only strive to make the world a better place, but stop making decisions that got us into the mess in the first place.
And to ask whether the shareholders’ attitudes need to change; it’s far more nuanced than that. Let’s take oil as an example, the shareholders, the pension holders, the people that we see on the street are those with a vested interest in that company’s financial welfare. Are you going to tell your ageing population that they suddenly need to take away the profit for the sake of ‘purpose’? For many, it’s their retirement pot. If you’re going to weigh up purpose and profit, you’ve got to look at them equally.
Mark Lumsdon-Taylor: I think profit with purpose is nonsensical. There is a lot of greenwashing, a lot of green noise, or even the latest term, ‘rainbow washing’. It came from the whole ‘Millennium Bug’ profiteering that happened when 1999 became 2000 when, after realising nothing happened, companies chose to change their behaviour.
Having turned many things on their heads, there are now corporates who pay lip service, professed a change in attitude, but not altered their ways at all.
We need things that can be measured, regulated, disclosed, so that people actually show what it is they are making claims about. B Corp has a purpose; it does quite a lot of positive work, particularly around ‘social licensing’. Within a business, though, is it truly transparent in changing culture and business? I would say it’s a corporate pouch that people are using to sell more.
In order for this to have credibility, you need criteria that are clear, measurable and challengeable by auditors looking at the metrics. It would look at risk and governance, which is where the societal bit comes in. And it needs to be independently fact-checked.
Then that aligns to wherever you are in the supply chain. Businesses would have to conform. Marks & Spencer, for example, don’t buy from companies that don’t have that transparency, which is a good thing.
MH: At the high end of capitalism, for instance, a company floating on the Stock Market, its purpose really is to make profit. And if they don’t make profit, they will not have a business anymore...
Rustom Tata: I am taken with what people’s expectations are. When we discussed ESG previously, I remember saying the ’S’ part is the most important bit, which was my view and still is.
I’m wondering how much of this is generational. I can think of a couple of my partners who are saying, ‘why are we doing it?’ Is it because the regulator tells us we must, or the client is telling us we must.
I’m not sure I agree about the M&S bit, because one of the very big banks that we work for, there are certain things they expect us to do, as a supplier and contractor. At one level, it’s great. We get clarity. But another level, you ask, ‘is the bank’s internal culture really changing?’ Or is it just classic procurement, so that they drive through their own terms for suppliers?
They make themselves feel better and say that we require our suppliers to do A, B, and C, but it doesn’t really change the internal workings and culture of an institution.
Daniel Fisher: It’s important to reflect on the fact that social purpose isn’t a new idea. We can go back to the 18th century when Adam Smith talked about how wages for workers should be high and profits should be low. Legislating these kinds of arrangements were, in his words, ‘just and equitable’.
Daniel Kahneman, the Economist at Princeton did a big study on income in 2010. Where households that earned on average $50,000 a year (about $75,000 now), happiness - such as it could be quantified – started to flatline. This was because people have enough money to do the basic things they need to do. So with these things in place, people realised extreme wealth wasn’t necessary. People didn’t need $3bn.
In the late 1800s, Harvard Business School had a motto that was to ‘make a decent profit decently’. Even in the early 1930s, people were discussing the importance of having some kind of social purpose. We lost our way in the 1950s.
Now just like businesses, we’re being told to bring social purpose back into our curriculum, which is great. So now, we are returning to the roots of the business school. But I would also invite readers to be highly suspicious of anyone claiming the rhetoric of social purpose, particularly corporations as a form of organising,
We can look at 50 years of research on CSR, alongside societal trends. The problem is, we are not achieving our goals. Things have got worse; inequality is increasing, women don’t have the same benefits as men, there is entrenched poverty. So why has CSR failed? And why might social purpose fail?
The corporate model of organising alongside the shareholder primacy is the main reason. So what are the alternatives? One really good example is Patagonia, the outdoor clothing apparel firm, where the owner Yvon Chouinard (see Platinum, issue 102) sold his stake to a non-profit will fight for environmental causes, citing planet Earth is our only shareholder. It still has a supply chain, it supplies jobs, people are going to be able to pay the mortgages, but it doesn’t emphasise just profits.
Pam Loch: The focus we’ve had on ‘purpose’ has been fairly wide. A lot businesses see themselves as being able to supply jobs, which does help out the economy. In previous jobs, I didn’t like the way that law practices worked, because we tended to work in silos, and were driven mainly by how much money they made. So I started the business to try and develop a team of people, with a common purpose, which is to have fun at work, while still offering a great service.
Obviously, we also look to generate a profit in order for us to share it out as much as we can. I take out what I need, then share the profits, and re-invest within the business. To some extent, I think the purpose does come first, but I think it can then lead to profits.
MH: If an oil or petro-chemical company came to you for advice, would you accept their business?
PL: Depends. One of my purposes in life is to educate clients. One method of dealing with staff and HR issues is prevention, working up how to avoid problems before they happen. No matter who they are.
MH: Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman felt that for a company to do anything other than create profit would be pure and unadulterated socialism. Is that view still prevalent? If we’re going to lose that view, how do we do it? Is legislation the only route?
ST: I’d go back to the point about B Corp – and that this is a really good example of how this is playing out. B Corp has become the gold standard; of companies entering an exclusive club. But it doesn’t look at things in the round. For instance, you could be scoring really well in one area; it could be the most sustainable business. However, it’s a lot easier for me to be that, because my whole team is remote.
Meanwhile, my supply chain could be using slave labour and that’s a huge problem. When you just look at what businesses are in that ‘club of good’, you can see already that it’s window dressing.
ML: Why did you become a B Corp then?
ST: It takes so long – three years – to achieve B Corp status that, when started on this road, we were a little delusional about it. By the time we’d had a clearer idea as to what we were going for, we’d invested a lot of time and resources in to it – and there is no way I was going to abandon the process. We’d put too much in. For an SME, it is very time-consuming.
RS: It also makes it sound as though you’re still using it to increase profits?
ST: Electric Peach has a social enterprise element to it and I want to grow my profits for the same reasons as Pam’s. I want to provide a great working environment for my people, I want to have a reasonable life myself; it’s more about doing good.
Marketing agencies are usually awful, so that was another motivation. I also want to be able to invest my profits back into making an impact. And if I don’t have any profit, I can’t make an impact. I can’t pay my people fairly. I can’t have a good night’s sleep.
PL: It’s really difficult to find good people and retain them. Younger staff are looking and wondering what your purpose is. I appreciate that some sectors are easier to define a purpose than others.
To effect a purpose, you have to put more than just a job advert out there, mentioning that you offer flexible working. You have to properly set your values out, and let people know them.
ST: And that’s why I don’t just say we’re a communications and brand agency, I say we’re an impact agency, because we look at what is your actual impact. If you’re mis-communicating your values, you’re going to get found out by your biggest advocates – your employees. They will see straight through that.
DF: There are many occupations that people undertake in our society that aren’t paid that well. Not everyone is necessarily motivated by pursuit of profit; profit isn’t this stable concept.
Companies always seek to achieve a profit, of course, but it’s the extent that a company will go to to gain this profit that decides whether it’s attractive for employees. Excess profiteering is being blamed for inflation at the moment. It’s a matter of degree of how much profit and how it’s achieved.
MH: Is this something you’ve looked at within Coast To Capital?
JK: For a while, we had quite a significant fund to invest in businesses. We had a business grants panel, and people would come and pitch, and we made a decision as to who to invest in. I was interested, not in terms of quotas, as to how many women-led or women-owned businesses we invested in. We used AI to disaggregate that data. We found that we were doing nothing like enough to invest in them. Further than that, our scores on ethnic-led businesses also wasn’t good enough.
We were just not supporting the make-up of the business community in the region. And it was really fascinating that we use AI to be able to do that. So we re-evaluated everything; our website, our system, our purpose. And it was down to not having the data to be able to say ‘we’re doing this right.’
MLT: One of the main issues around this is the severe mess regulatory legislation is in, and the UK government is not treating it as a priority.
And because it isn’t dealing with it, business is taking up the responsibility itself to deal with the myriad bits of highly confusing legislation - stuff which tells them that if you want to be considered for ‘this’ project, or ‘this’ account, you must undertake ‘these given practices’. Banks are a prime example; they are the most regulated entities in the UK, and they embrace the regulation, simply because they have to.
SMEs are doing a great job in this respect, but the whole situation is toxic. Until it’s properly structured, we will continue to get this time-consuming mess. Actually having that clear, defined transparency will give a lot more confidence to consumers and stakeholders.
MH: It sounds like the only way this gets fixed is by the most severe legislation ever. Would you concur, Rustom?
RT: The odd thing I find about any new piece of legislation, or even long-standing legislation, is the number of clients who feel that it goes against them personally. We have a psyche in the UK that, within reason, we can do what we want, and when we don’t get that, when the law is stacked against us, irrespective of whether that law is fair or not, we don’t like it.
I have sat so many times at my desk with managers or business owners telling them, ‘this is what the law says about discrimination,’ and they say, ‘that is just ridiculous.’ And they take it personally. That’s when I realise that the committed employee doesn’t always get the greater employer, and the great employer doesn’t always get the committed employee.
MH: What about any top-down legislation? Should government get involved?
MLT: We act for a number of very large corporate oil and gas companies, and the story not being told is how they are on their green journey of investing in renewable energy. But we have to look at the political consideration. Is any government actually going to put the ‘closed’ sign up on Aberdeen with the thousands of jobs those industries support?
RT: That’s an emotional justification. These companies are making money out of something that is fundamentally corrupting the planet. Is that OK?
MLT: From a political perspective, and this goes back to the point where the public are asking whether we are going down the Scandinavian route with their amazing green policies, or are we effectively going to throw some towns and communities under a bus for not investing in oil and gas any more? I’m not offering an opinion on whether it’s right or wrong. I’m giving you the context of what the country says.
MLT: There are companies who are putting their own legislation in place to insist the fossil fuel companies adhere to certain positive practices. It is happening in certain cases.
ST: When it comes to this kind of behaviour, money talks. One of the key things we could consider, as well as legislation, is increased tax. A higher tax – properly implemented – will make people will change.
I have turned down huge business-changing contracts, because they don’t align with our company’s values. It can be done. It’s quite idealistic to think that are businesses out there whose prime goal is being one of the ‘big four’. We exist in a global society where you don’t get to be the best. You look at the people at the top, a place many we think is the ultimate goal, they’re deeply miserable, most of them. And you don’t get to be that if you’re not screwing someone over somewhere along the way.
I feel that’s really sad.
MH: But if you were the CEO of a much larger, recently-floated company, would you have the flexibility of turning down those clients you spoke of, without being removed from your position?
ST: Absolutely not. That goes back to my point about the purpose of business. As long as we have LLPs, as long as we can floated businesses on the market, and the only purpose of that business is to make it shareholders profit, then of course, I would be taken out immediately. It’s a luxury that, as the leader of a small business, I can lead with values and a purpose that aren’t just about me.
As SMEs, we represent 98% of the UK’s economy collectively…
MH: Indeed, but in having an effect, we represent, well… not much.
ST: People start up their companies, often with a great idea bringing people together, but they’re missing a trick. We have small regional SME organisations, but in order for our representation to be effective, it needs to be on a national scale.
RT: How far are we off having standards around environmental legislation?
MLT: The UK actually led the field in 2020, when they announced that they were going to adopt TCFD for large scale listed companies. And everybody else followed. Then we just stopped, and then changed the legislation and made it mandatory, from April 2022. Now, accounts appearing after then have got to issue a form of TCFD discloser. This is for all banks, or public interest entities, irrespective of their size. What they then didn’t do, which is a little bit disappointing is they didn’t extend that out to listed LLPs.
So now there are some operational disclosures called streamline energy, carbon reporting and energy savings and efficiency schemes, which aren’t mandatory regulation; they’re things you have to do to comply. But they are so weak. You can bypass it by having an ISO standard – and frankly most businesses do. It’s just basically how much energy use and how much carbon you emit and doing an intensity ratio.
To answer your question, the government – I lose track as to which PM – said that, by 2025, the country would mandate this regulation down to large businesses under the ISSB definition. Businesses should be thinking about getting on that bandwagon now. Some companies are preparing for it because they see the writing on the wall. Other companies, by seeing they’re not bound to disclose within the legislation, aren’t bothering with it, especially given the extra auditing fees.
Within my work, I see a worrying number of SMEs who just don’t understand how this all works. They’re more excited about tax breaks, not bringing ESG on board.
MH: While purpose is often driven by the employees, it can also driven by customers. But do customers really care? Given the same price for the same item, with one being more made more sustainably, which will customers go for? And does putting purpose before profit have the potential to damage profit?
RS: I believe that consumers are still going to turn a blind eye and pay £100 that’s causing environmental damage for a product over a sustainable product at £200. Businesses have to be commercially sensible about this.
You’re not going to follow purpose to sacrifice profit, although you may not go for profit to sacrifice purpose. For businesses, they understand purpose is important now, but with the clients I talk to, I ask them whether purpose is good for them. I get them to focus on those things that are important.
For example, is your competitor gaining an advantage over you because of their purpose-led attitudes? Do they have an ESG strategy, or are they going for B Corp? Who, in effect, is winning?
ML: I disagree. I’m absolutely aligned with the idea that legislation has to drive at the top to make the bigger corporations and bigger global conglomerates change. I’ve taken businesses through the process of change, to take in more purpose-led considerations.
On day one, you’d have a site visit from a potential customer who gets to see a functioning but regressive workplace. Having gone through the implementations of ESG or B Corp, and changing the application and attitude to work, 18 months later, that same site visit would be greeted by someone far more motivated, who can inform the visitor of the benefits that are offering not just to the company in the way it works, but to wider society.
This can be borne of allowing your staff greater creativity, interaction and, most importantly, culture.
I would also say from my own experience that I believe consumers, even in today’s economy are still willing – as long as it’s within a tolerance – to pay more for a product knowing a fair wage is going direct to the growers or makers, and they’re not being taken advantage of. The authenticity and the communications comes across so well because they genuinely believe it, and they’re passionate about it. I think people engage and can align with that, and relate to those values.
PL: Would it not be better to not have legislation, and get businesses and their staff to buy into this first? Rather than having it forced upon companies and people, get companies to ‘live it’. Don’t just ‘say it’, and you will start seeing the benefits of it.
ST: It’s also extremely costly for smaller businesses.
From a brand development perspective, there are some really small brands that have come from female-owned businesses that have shown how in touch they are not just with their culture internally, but the culture that they create, externally, because they’re so plugged into the zeitgeist of their consumers. These businesses are innovating constantly, because they’re so connected to the people that they’re innovating for.
JK: A lot of that innovation comes from your people, not from any written policy. The reality is, the best policies are derived from empowering your teams to go away and think about what they can do within their own area. That’s where the buy-in is coming from, and there is some brilliant stuff coming in from the workforce.
MH: But how do we get this historical, divisive corporate behaviour to stop? Whether it’s gender pay, gender product cost, tax avoidance, or a whole number of other issues, what can we do to change it?
DF: One piece of legislation I find interesting is that by 2030, cars have to be electric. So all businesses are coming out with electric cars, there are more charging points, and associated peripherals and so on. The threat of legislation is looming, so we’ve already seen industry starting to change. The CFC reduction campaigns and legislation of the 1980s and 90s were highly successful, so we can look to history for examples.
But it’s important that we balance these, so we don’t go into the workplace and over legislate the workplace dynamics either. Once people move to an electric car supply chain, there’ll be slavery and child labour involved, there’s only something so much cobalt, and so on.
It’s got to be a combination of strict legislation, very similar to the Scandinavian model. We also shouldn’t lay all the responsibility on individuals and consumers, because we will make selfish decisions.
MLT: That date may well be moved. The industry lobbied the EU, and that date is now 2035. It may well move again to 2040. To quote the CEO of BMW, “All the while that people want internal combustion engines, we’re going to make them.”
JK: As an aside, electric vehicles is an important point from an education perspective as well. As of March this year, we had no electric or hybrid vehicles as the cost is huge. We managed to secure a government grant to acquire two electric, two hybrid cars and some diagnostic kits.
We also need to be looking at hydrogen and other forms of fuel as well, but the latest technology mismatched with further or higher education places, so we have a challenge to train people.
Teaching is not the best paid profession in the world, so it’s very difficult to attract far better paid engineers working in industry into colleges to teach the next generation, especially as that next generation will not be working with the technology that is here now.
MH: All the while electric cars are more expensive, people won’t buy them in the same quantities. And when it comes to economics or environment, governments are always judged on the economy, so will prioritise as such. So we have a situation which can’t be solved.
ML: Well, look at the state of the economy now… I’ve mentioned this before – I was running a company that was turning over £10 million, and was reasonably profitable. But the margins were minimal in terms of net profit levels.
We had another look, and by innovating through what our customers wanted, rather than assuming via our own business model, we reduced our operational costs. It can actually incentivise you to adopt this approach, meaning we were being more profitable, we’re reducing the environmental impact. We were quantifying that benefit back to the client. So we brought down our cost of our product because we were reducing the supply chain.
MH: But within the supply chain, your supplier is hurting…
ST: Not if that supplier also innovated, and that’s the point. Our entire economy has been created because four guys in America about 120 years ago decided that we would have fossil-fuelled vehicles rather than innovating with hydrogen – and everyone else bought into it. And this has affected every single business since then.
However, I am not going to follow this archaic model just because this is what some dudes in America told me to follow.
MH: The problem is, 100-odd years ago, running on petrol was considered a brilliant idea, but with no clue as to any environmental impact. We have been slave to it for so long…
ST: Quite. What would happen if we stopped using oil tomorrow? Not ideal, so we need to reduce incrementally. And that requires innovation. The reason these things are expensive is supply and demand. The more people jump on a given product that they wish to use, then the more the scales of economy will dictate that the price will drop, making it more affordable. It’s actually about making that desire for change happen.
MH: I read many times that consumers just aren’t taking the option. For those who says it’s purpose before profit, it’s really purpose and profit. This means our employees and consumers will be happier and buy more from us. But the consumer side of this argument is tosh…
ST: Well, the data out there says that it’s not tosh.
MH: Each time we resolve a planet-saving problem, we create a new one. Hydrogen cars might be great for emissions, but try getting hydrogen in the first place. We have to go slightly back in order to go forward, do we not?
DF: To some extent. It’s always going to be a constant battle, we’re trying to live in harmony with the earth with finite resources that we want to exploit in some form for profit.
Mobile phones guzzle up the planet’s resources, to the point that there is a company that makes the ‘most’ ethically responsible phone, without it being completely ethical. Things are transitional, and that’s the best we can hope for right now. Another example, it costs about £180,000 to install an electrical charging point, as opposed to £1.5m for a hydrogen re-fuelling station. The real transition that has to happen is cultural. People need to walk more, use less, and need to be less materialistic.
PL: A lot of this discussion has been about forcing through legislation. But change can and should be cultural too.
A better option than imposed legislation could be by incentivising. For example, if you do this, this and this, you can get yourself a tax break, meaning better profits. And that will encourage purpose, you will also get better productivity and a happier consumer – it’s a win-win situation. Everyone involved can take a carrot and stick where appropriate.
RT: It comes back to what we think we are as a country and as a society, and those things that bind us together. There can be any number of markers - ‘decency’ has long been one, but what does that mean in this context?
This takes us back to ‘what are we prepared to put up with?’ The poorest in society are the ones who get the harshest deal, whether its work prospects, food, health care, education. Along those lines, supermarkets were being encouraged to bring back poor quality food for them.
But we as a society have to insist on things that are good for us. And there are things that we need to do for ourselves. Part of this is to do with the welfare of the planet – and I think this country is a long way from that shift. More of us need to be saying that if there is a ready alternative that works, broadly, ‘I will do it’ or ‘I will support it.’ There will be a bit of a badge of honour, something to talk about; something for the conversation going forward.
Consumers should easily be able to judge and understand the make up of something they’re buying. Right now, they can read something, but actually - to them – what does it mean? What’s the standard? Is it a single standard? What’s the ESG rating? What’s the ‘Goodness’?
It’s a combination of data availability, and standards. Consumers need something to quantify and compare, and look it up on the internet. From there, informed judgements can be made. And that will have to come through regulation.
What else isn’t helpful is the language and the rhetoric that the politicians and the media use; they are so divisive, negative and emotive – and what do we get from that? A system that fails us.
MH: This is a business magazine. What do you think we should do?
MLT: The media does have a role to play. Many publications are all over the place when it comes to business. There are some good publications out there, and I feel Platinum has a role to play in this. You have it within you to be a force for good; not talk about rhetoric, but talk about facts, structure and clear, decisive action.
This is the third conversation in this series, which is really positive, and it has highlighted some great stuff, as well as challenging the norm. I also like the point being made that everybody in this conversation has a line; one which they will not cross, for whatever reason. That, to me, is about ethics and integrity.
This brings me back to the original point of this – purpose before profit, I’d rephrase it as ‘ethics and integrity of business’. This deals with how companies regulate views that work, and their aims and objectives around making as much money as they can with a social conscience.
RT: There has been a shift – though how much of it is superficial, and how much of it is social media – whereby if a businesses messes up on something, the media are all over it. There’s a whole range of brands which have become tainted. Not quite to the Gerald Ratner extent but there is a bit of a shift in the public culture.
MLT: This current government is trying to incentivise business to be greener environmentally. For large industrialists, they save £400,000 a year, by being part of the CCA, which is about emissions reduction.
This is going to cost the government quite a lot of money, but how many businesses know about that? Not many. That’s where perhaps the likes of Platinum need to make people aware of that.
ST: On B Corp, the way impact assessments are being done is changing. They have a body of of leaders who have rallied against the way it’s being done, and they’re making changes. It shows we can’t rely on the government, because they’re in the pockets of big business. Doing this is massive, and it has a ripple effect.
RS: I want your readers of this article to realise whether it’s purpose, profit, or purpose for profit - it doesn’t really matter. Looking at ESG as a as a framework, there are huge opportunities for businesses. So any business leader looking at this should make them realise that this is something to put on the board agenda and at least give it some thought. Because there are so many opportunities out there.
MH: One responsibility I do have; I hope to encourage people to keep going with the positive things that do matter. The hope is still there. Can I just ask for a brief closing statement from each of you? Is it possible to have purpose and profit?
PL: Yes. But I think you have to embrace it as a leader, and you have to change the culture of business to benefit from it so that everybody gains, not just necessarily the profit.
DF: Yes. But profit, for whom? And by how much?
RT: Profits are always at the expensive of somebody else. So you have to change that conundrum.
MLT: It’s about businesses being profitable with purpose, and changing the way in which businesses operate. For them to do that, there needs to be regulatory frame works for them that we will have as universal standard.
ST: We need to talk more about the impact that we’re making as businesses and that every single person can make changes that make more positive impact.
RS: Yes, It’s a journey. Any business can do it. It’s not a project, it’s a change in attitudes, so get on that journey, it is coming down the line, every business will need to embed this in their board agenda. It’s that balance – purpose; profit; planet; people. It’s all got to be on the same level now.
ML: It’s about businesses using their profit to solve social and environmental challenges and not profit from causing problems. That 98% of the economy, the SMEs – they’re overwhelmed. It’s about progress and making that first step.
B Corp is a good framework, and they’re doing the best that they possibly can. It gives you a great holistic assessment of your organisation, and identifies risks and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses of your businesses and allows you to celebrate the great things you’re doing. You can engage with a great community of like minded people who are generous with their time and support to help you progress.
JK: The generation of young people coming through my college now; they’re talking about it, and thinking about what they’d say sat around this table in 10 years’ time. The responsibility is something I take really seriously, and it goes back to the media and how this has been talked about. There’s a big piece on the next generation to be had.
MH: Thank you very much for your time and thoughts.