TURNING THE SUPER TANKER
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
DR ARLO BRADY CEO of freuds and Chairman of the Blue Marine Foundation
OUR CHAIRMAN, MATTHEW FREUD, RECENTLY USED THE ANALOGY THAT FOR YEARS THE SUSTAINABILITY MOVEMENT HAS BEEN TRYING TO TURN AROUND AN OIL TANKER.
Ultimately, turning a 1,200 foot long tanker is a cumbersome business. But one of the most effective actions the captains of these sea-going giants can take in order to execute a rapid change of direction is simply to stop.
The beauty of our present situation is that, right now, everything has stopped. So, as a world with the engines of the world’s economy still at an idle, we have the option to reorientate ourselves as economies – and as businesses and communities – in order to begin heading in a new direction.
Whatever the outcome, we can be also sure that when that happens many of the world’s companies and organisations will be looking for signposts and guidance to the world around them as they attempt to return to this new normality.
For many, faced with the array of challenges and difficulties ahead, a brief Google search could land them in the B Corp space.
Simply put, it provides that collective wisdom you get by being part of a group.At freuds, we had already spent a lot of time thinking about how to change our business for the better.
As an organisation we have always had a commitment to a range of sustainability issues, but our “Eureka’ moment came in 2015, when we helped to launch the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
We could see, set out in a clear way, the challenge and the diversity of issues the world faced, and we realised that the communications and marketing world had a central role to play in tackling many of them, a realisation that we felt empowered by.
But as a business, working on sustainability can often be isolating, and at times you’re never quite sure, because of the complexity of the issues involved, whether you’re having a positive impact.
So, in early 2020, we decided to participate and learn from others who had been on the journey before us, getting an external perspective of how good we were and where we could improve and make changes. That was the primary driver for us.
We had already come across a number of B Corps, both as clients and businesses we interact with, and all of them seemed super impressive, so it was a community we felt we wanted to be part of.
THE BEAUTY OF OUR PRESENT SITUATION IS THAT, RIGHT NOW, EVERYTHING HAS STOPPED.
It felt like a group of people who wanted to be on the right side of history; a group we felt we could learn from and hopefully impart some lessons to ourselves.
There was also another very persuasive argument. In an environment where many businesses must compete to recruit and retain top talent, young people want to work with businesses that are focused on doing good. This was a straightforward way of signposting it for them. A method of saying: “You’re not only able to have a career, but you can also have an impact on the issues you care about.” A way of showing that we were part of a larger movement.
The B Corp world offered the complete spectrum of fellow travellers, from two-man bands to companies like Danone. It also ranged across the geographical spectrum from Europe and America, to huge contingents in South America and in Asia. It has the kind of international diversity that you don’t necessarily find in other networks.
We also wanted to engage with this beguiling movement, to publicise the tremendous work B Corps were doing so that others can engage with them and move forward in a positive way.
The ultimate goal, we knew, must be systemic change. But, we also saw an immediate opportunity for it to have a wider influence on the business community, to find a way that others could see the great examples of the work businesses are doing, and to decide what they want to participate in.
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