One of the problems is that the word “sustainability” has become almost entirely linked to environmental sustainability, which is understandable given the challenges of global warming but the true concept of the sustainable business is far broader and encompasses economics, culture and the social. The challenge for many now is to build strong economic businesses connected with culture, social and environment. It is what many are calling for and what is becoming the new benchmark for how to judge a strong business; what it represents, gives and delivers.
This is what “Finding Roots” is about; not about looking to what has gone wrong but in developing a progressive agenda which also connects business with its culture and with a social agenda; all to the benefit of the central economic purpose. Sustainability agendas are not a cost but an investment in a stronger business. Too many CSR programmes have been tick box exercises and now is the time to build an overall approach which resonates with employees, with clients and investors to build a stronger business.
We have a moment in time when all feel vulnerable and have a desire to build a stronger business. It is time for fewer excuses. There has been too much communication which talks at audiences without engaging. There has not been enough real connection between large and small business; between businesses and their local cultures, traditions, and suppliers.
Finding Roots is all about developing a narrative that celebrates local traditions, histories, people, suppliers and values. It is about connecting investors, clients and employees through something which has more real meaning than a broad mission statement that says very little and means very little to anyone.
In the last few weeks, we have been approached with a range of ideas for promoting localism and communities which include:
· A festival to promote great British produce and food styles including traditional recipes.
· A festival to celebrate the diverse nature of communities and to showcase often communities are more inclusive than business
· Ideas for working better with BAME talent pools to help support their contribution to society and business
· Bringing business and education closer together
· Coaching and promoting stronger networking and connections between business and their localities.
· Creation of social hubs within hotels, making hotels the centre of communities
· Setting up schools to teach great hospitality skills.
These are just initial ideas that have been prompted in recent weeks and are the tip of the iceberg. There is an exciting new momentum developing. People want their companies to have stronger pillars once again; real values, real care and compassion for communities and strong business ethics.
What can companies do to be active in support of their communities and people? Is it acceptable to have a major HQ which does not contribute to something which is bigger than that company and will last longer?
Many will say no and are looking forward to better actions. Good can come out of bad.