Since I turned 50 at the end of 2017, I have found myself thinking more deeply about certain things. Of course, I still focus on retaining my title as winner of Fantasy Premier League at 25/8 Group but, I’ve started to question myself more on the type of things I consume. I’ve started to look deeper into the ethics behind the brands I buy and consider whether I even need some products at all. 24-weeks ago I decided to try and follow a more plant-based, meat-free diet. Whilst I’m not going to rant about it here, I do encourage you to consider giving it a try. I also committed to no longer buying leather products and whilst I have been successful so far, I’m not going to lie, it’s been easier said than done. (Those new Air Force 1’s are still hovering in my basket…)
Interestingly some exciting opportunities have been coming our way as a company that has also made us spend more time looking at sustainability, the environment and the effect of business on the planet and people. So, you can well imagine I was buzzed to get the opportunity to go to the incredible BInspired London event hosted by the brilliant B Corp. B Corp has been on my radar for a long time, as some of my favourite brands utilise their modelling system.
The speaker list was exciting enough but, the subject matter had me like a moth to a flame. In the past 10 months alone, 25/8 Group has generated sales of over 14.2m units of product for clients coming from Asia, Europe and North America. We have also sold over 40m units of products made in China through start-ups. As a parent, business owner and, decent citizen of the world, I’ve always been keen to understand the impact of our business on the planet, hence me always being an avid fan of BCorp models.
Whilst the event was multi-faceted, the key agenda was simple, but so effective; “What is the point of making a profit if people and the planet are damaged?”
I am sure you have all read about it but I have been doing a lot of research recently into Triple Bottom Line and whilst we practice it as much as we can at 25/8 Group, I haven’t seen it quite so well articulated as I did in this session. A group of 600 people all there for one reason and one reason only; to do their bit for the planet and its people while generating profit from its purpose.
I wanted to share some of the insights I took away from the event and give some shout-outs to panel members so that you can consider giving them a follow on social:
- Douglas Lamont, CEO of Innocent Drinks and Pippa Murray, Founder of Pip and Nut did a brilliant talk about their experience of taking their respective businesses through the accreditation process. Very thought-provoking and inspiring.
- Sophi Tranchell, CEO Divine Chocolate explained their amazing business model and I was fascinated to learn that 44% of their shares are owned by the growers and farmers of their cocoa at source. How many directors are brave enough to give such a large share of their business to its most important people?
- Kresse Wesling of Elvis & Kresse and Tom Kay of Finisterre shared their visions on how they are investing daily into developing circular ecosystems and posed a very direct question to the creative designers in the room by asking “are you actually a creator or a destroyer?” Does your design pay its debt to nature and the planet or are you just getting off on being a designer that wants to make their mark on the design world? Are we designing in a minimalist way?
- Patrick Pichette, who was previously CFO of Google, posed some brilliant questions. As a finance guy, he spoke realistically about the elephants in the room which are finances, balance sheets and cash flow but, the light bulb moment was when he talked about what to do with those profits. As a VC, one of the questions he asks company owners is “what will you do if you have 1 billion of cash on our books?” The answer he is looking for is “giving back”. He relayed a great story about how he told his kids that he was spending their inheritance on 65,00 acres of land in his native Canada so it could be given back to Canadians to develop it as a private national park. Unsurprisingly, this exceptional story got the biggest cheer of the day.
- I was super impressed by Laura Tenison, CEO and Founder of JoJo Bebe, who strives so hard within her business to ensure they employ everyone ethically, from head office to stores and into 2nd tier supply chain.
I’ve never left a “trade” based event feeling so inspired to change the way I, and we, work. As a Father of 4 girls who will need this planet for their kids and grandkids to live on, I’m convinced that I can affect change by doing my bit. You can argue the science if you want but, is that a smart thing to do? You can turn a blind eye to it but, is that the right thing to do? My motto in business has always been “do the right thing” and that’s what we intend to do.
The next 3 months are crazy busy for 25/8 Group, but one thing I will be dedicating quality time to is answering this question.
What is the purpose of your business?
…More to follow!