Good business festival: seeing businesses as a force for good. 

Last week, I attended Good Business Festival to debate, discuss, ideate and collaborate on how businesses can do better, be more responsible, and pave the way for change. 

By Mandy Barker

It was a jam-packed two days with topics both on stage and off stage and I wanted to share my key takeaways.

More people care about climate change than ever – we spoke about harnessing this and the importance of educating ourselves and others on small steps we can take to do better. This is me doing that…

Share resources and work to enable change
Put the planet and collaboration before competition. Many businesses (of all sizes) are starting to create sustainability roadmaps to benchmark and do better. Craig Pennington from Future Yard, a community music venue in Liverpool, spoke about their roadmap (https://futureyard.org/sustainability-roadmap/), and how it is free to use. Other venues can download and use as a starting point / blue print.

Shift the power
Grace Blakely spoke about decentralising power, and the fact this would have a positive impact on tackling the worlds most pressing problems. As a business, share your power. Encourage workers to unionise, this will hold your business accountable, create leadership within and ensure workers feel supported and heard. Ask yourself, what power do you hold and how can you shift it? 

Ensure your business has a clear purpose
The traditional business model is broken. It is no longer about shareholder value or growth. Reading things like Doughnut Economics will help give more perspective on this. What is your bigger picture? Do your team know your purpose, your vision, what you are all working towards? Why does your organisation make the world a better place? Be brave, start this conversation. Hold a space to share and discuss this. At sail, it’s real world impact through creativity, meaning working with purpose-first organisations that share our values. Build your purpose from within. This often gets forgotten in the day-day running of a business but is crucial to retain and attract talent, to strengthen and future proof your brand and to ensure you put purpose, people and profit on the same weighting. 

Action, not just words
Patagonia said the most powerful thing we can do as businesses can do is speak up. Use your voice. Challenge fossil fuels, challenge traditional ways of doing things, challenge broken systems. Sign the Better Business Act (easy and free), take the B Corp impact assessment (free), ensure your team are supported and included in your purpose. Use your core values to drive your business decisions.

A greener future will create more jobs
Sustainability is not only necessary, it is the right thing to do. If we put sustainability high on the agenda, it will drive other change. The government argues that moving away from fossil fuels will negatively affect the economy due to existing infrastructures, this is not true. Those infrastructures can be used in other ways. It’s the unknown, yes, but we need to evolve. If we move towards renewable energy, it will increase job opportunities tenfolds (from the current fossil fuel economy). It’s a win win. Greener energy, cleaner planet, improved economy. We must look to change the infrastructure we currently operate in. It is broken.

A circular economy is crucial for survival
But for this to happen, citizens must understand the problem. It is our responsibility as businesses to educate ourselves and understand our purchasing/supplier/commissioning power. We must then make this information clear, jargon-free and accessible. It is the role of designers to shift consumer perceptions, show the economy is broken. We all buy things that are convenient, cheap and easy. But those of us that can, need to pause and think. Reuse over reject. Be aware of single use products. But also think about the supply chain, the impact of production. Ask yourself, do you really need that?

Beware of greenwashing
Greenwashing is misleading marketing to persuade the public to buy products. Basically, don’t believe everything you see, read, or hear even from the most reputable companies. Fact check. 

And join the conversation, attend events based on the Net Zero agenda, be aware of your purchasing power, use your bike, use public transport, stay away from ultra processed food, use charity shop, think before you buy. Make tiny adjustments. If we all do that, the planet would be in a better place…

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