Posted: Tue 9th Nov 2021
Tim Elliott is a climate reality leader who is passionate responsible business. Connect with him today and request a free discovery call!
We are living through an ‘interesting’ time. How many times have you heard that in the past 18 months? But, here, I’m not only referring to the big ‘C word’ of Covid, but to the whole gamut of humanitarian, societal and ecological challenges we are facing as a population.
Oof. That’s not a cheery start to a blog, is it? None of us are strangers to the overriding heaviness of the current world issues. It hangs around like a dark cloud, and sometimes we want to take shelter. But other times, we have to meet it head on. And the topic I’m about to explore in this blog is one I want to be taken seriously…or at least for it to cause you to stop and think for a moment. Because it’s very much intertwined with making a positive impact on today’s challenges.
So, what is the topic? Being a responsible business. As the title says, you have a responsibility to be…responsible. Let’s start by defining what is meant by the term ‘responsible business’.
What exactly is a ‘responsible business’?
There are many different definitions of what a ‘responsible business’ is, but for me it’s:
“An organisation that leverages its resources to do good for people or the planet in order to achieve long-term value.”
This definition isn’t perfect, but definitions rarely fit nice and neatly into a little box that has all the ingredients of meaning inside. But, the crux of the matter is that to be a responsible business, we have to accept that there is an obligation to do good outside of the activity we call work, and outside of the products and services we sell.
“Ah, he’s talking about brand purpose”, I hear you say. Well, no actually, I’m not.
Why responsibility is different to brand purpose
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a big advocate for brand purpose and have helped a lot of organisations discover theirs. And if you have a brand purpose, or are searching for your purpose, then good on you. It’s a key part of business. But just having a brand purpose isn’t enough anymore – especially when it comes to running a truly responsible business.
There has been a bunch of content on the internet debating the power brands have in relation to impact or meaning. The more cynical say that people just don’t care much about brands – and for many that’s absolutely true. Especially for those who only see brands or businesses, and the products they sell, as customer-facing entities.
But brands are more than that, aren’t they? Surely. And I think it’s something we’ve all come to realise much more over the past couple of years.
It seems to me that we want to find meaning in our life now more than ever. Not just the millennials and Gen Z’ers… but all of us. I don’t know if it’s been the effect of Covid on our lives that has made us unlearn and relearn what work means to us and reassess what actually matters. Or maybe just that we were all forced to slow down a little, which allowed us the time to think about the meaning of different aspects of our lives, and how interconnected they are.
This ‘search for meaning’ hasn’t only affected our thinking and behaviours at work, but also in our personal lives, in our roles as consumers, and in conversations we’ve had around the dinner table or in a bar of an evening. But the fact remains that we still fulfil a big part of that newfound meaning through the work we do because work takes up so much of our lives.
So why isn’t finding purpose and meaning in your business enough? Well, because alone they are not enough. What we really need today is a good deal of action. Let me elaborate.
Your actions have the power to do good
Work is such a big and significant part of our life – in time and in meaning. For a lot of people, it actually forms a massive part of their identity. With this in mind, how can we not use it, and our actions, for the power of good? I’d even go as far as to say it’s our responsibility to.
The value we put into the world, the businesses we build, the problems we solve, the needs we fulfil and the stories we tell – they should all be full of actions that ensure we are acting responsibly in the world we live in.
You, the entrepreneurs, the founders, the startups, the creatives and the leaders have the opportunity to leverage your resources to take actions – actions that will make a real impact in a world where we face significant challenges. Together, if we all grab that opportunity with both hands, imagine what we could do.
This post isn’t meant to be a telling off. I’ve written it simply to illuminate this amazing and powerful opportunity, so let me leave you with this...
How does your business make the world a better place?
Go out and tell that story.
Teach others how you do it.
Lead by example to empower others to be responsible too.
Not sure what actions you could take? No problem. I’m writing a follow-up to this article looking at how you can be a responsible business. So, keep your eyes peeled.