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The Consultancy Growth Network

Why you should do good in the world

Interview with Karen Sutton, founder of Global Good Awards

Purpose-led businesses are winning more work, attracting top talent and actively shaping the future. This means understanding the impact you and your business have on society and the world is no longer optional – it’s a necessity. 

We sat down (virtually!) with Karen Sutton, founder of Global Good Awards, to understand what ‘doing good’ means for leaders of boutique consultancies and the most effective ways we can make a difference. 

image 2 1 | The Consultancy Growth Network

Hi Karen, could you explain what ‘doing good’ means for businesses? 

‘Doing good’ means you’re consistently considering the impact you and your business have on others and the natural world.  

Every single one of our actions, purchasing decisions, investments, etc carries an impact whether it be social (on people) or environmental (on the planet), with many having an impact on both.  

Thinking about and researching that impact before you make your decisions will help you on the path to doing good and becoming a purpose-led business.  

It is no longer just about organising a charity bike ride or arranging a volunteering day once a year… 

Why should we do good?  

We are the last generation that can change the course for the future

It’s very hard (and the mainstream media aren’t doing a very good job of it!) to relate what is going on globally to the impact on our personal lives.   

But if we said that the changes to weather patterns will lead to mass migration, food shortages and rising prices, malaria will return to the UK and rising sea levels will cause more flooding – then it becomes personal.  

There is a concept called ‘The Boiling Frog Syndrome’: If a frog is suddenly put into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out to save its life. But if you put it in cold water and slowly heat it, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. It’s a hard truth but that is how it’s starting to feel for us. 

We are the last generation that can change the course for the future. It’s not just consultancies, we all should. And those who can afford it should be doing more.  

Companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability by considering factors such as their environmental practices, employee working standards, ethical sourcing policies, and community engagement initiatives are now seeing signs of a positive shift in winning contracts when up against those that don’t.  

Choosing suppliers with a smaller carbon footprint is a key aspect of sustainable procurement, which almost all large organisations are now committed to reducing.  

Organisations asking you to tender for work now insist on seeing your measured carbon footprint. Failing to act now WILL result in business loss in the next 1-2 years, without a doubt. 

Where do we start? 

As the saying goes, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’ so you need to measure your carbon footprint to really drive your emissions down. You need to know where you’re starting from and which changes will have the biggest impact – some may surprise you! It’s not as complicated as it sounds, you just need to use a consultancy or independent consultant* who understands how to do it or uses the correct tools.

Once you understand the impact you’re having as a business, that’s when you can look to reduce it.  

It will have a positive impact on you and your staff too, given that, according to EY, 71% of job seekers want to work for an ethical company…and happy employees translate to approx. 20% higher profits! 

What top 3 changes can we make?  

One of the biggest contributions you can make to being a responsible business is probably the least obvious…. Consider where your money is. I don’t just mean your main bank account but everything to do with finance. Who is your insurance company?  Where is your company pension? Where are your savings? It’s the easiest change to make and will outweigh the positive impact of anything else you’ll do as a business or individual.   

Many banks, investment companies and insurance companies are still heavily investing in fossil fuels, tobacco, arms, gambling and deforestation, but individuals and businesses have more power to change that than you might think. 

FACT: Greening your pension is 21x more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up flying, going veggie and switching energy provider combined [Source: Make My Money Matter website] 

Here are the best alternatives: 

Energy use is probably the next most important area to focus on. Especially if you have offices or you are responsible for energy use in the building. The minimum you can do is sign up for a 100% renewables energy tariff with a sustainable supplier like Octopus, Good Energy or EcoTricity. If you’re leasing but paying for energy but have no say in choosing your provider, look at investing in clean energy ownership through companies like Ripple. 

Then look at your day-to-day operations, for example, if you run events, make the catering offering at your events plant-based. Even if people eat meat at home, they aren’t going to miss meat in one meal!  

What benefit will I see for my business by making these changes? 

The main benefit is that you will be able to demonstrate to potential clients that you’re doing the right thing – and you won’t lose business as a result. You’ll also attract and retain happier and more satisfied employees. 

Sustainability may be a short-term cost but the perception to clients means that being a responsible business increases profit, some evidence shows as much as 16%. 

Karen Sutton is the founder of Global Good Awards, independent sustainability awards open to all organisations, large or small.  

*For a list of consultancies who can measure carbon footprint and help you get your emissions down, contact George, Community Director at The Consultancy Growth Network.

Article | Strategy and leadership

Written by

Amy Rashbrooke

The Consultancy Growth Network