Do you do good business?
Opinion: Head of Operations at Jersey Business, Alexia McClure, asks: how important is it for companies to do more than simply deliver profit?
I DON’T know if this happens to you but in the last month or so I’ve had a number of unconnected conversations about the same theme. I haven’t planned these, but have just found that an ordinary discussion has turned to the same topic. Extraordinarily, all these ideas came together at an event that I recently facilitated on the concept of what it takes to do ‘good’ business. More specifically at this event, the focus of the conversation was on why it is important for a business to have a purpose that is more than just delivering profit to the shareholders.
The dictionary definition of the word purpose is ‘the reason for which something is done, or created or for which something exists’. Taking this at face value it seems logical, and it is a very common view that the reason for a business to exist is to deliver its product or service in a way that provides a financial return to its owners.
Clearly it is vital for every organisation to operate with a surplus and with enough cash to pay the bills. However, these conversations have all pointed towards the fact that businesses that have a more purposeful culture and an impact which goes beyond their core deliverables, are likely to be the most successful.
Why might this be the case? People, young and old alike, are becoming much more assertive in making a considered choice about the organisation that they want to work for. Once an individual has the income that satisfies their needs, they want to work in a place that treats them with respect, takes their wellbeing seriously, is trusting enough to offer flexible working and provides a community and culture that makes them feel happy and secure. Having the policies in place is not enough, businesses and their leaders must walk the talk.
The attention being paid to culture and purpose is not confined to employees. Customers and clients are more savvy and discerning when it comes to spending their money. From environmental impact to an ethical supply chain, demonstrable diversity and valuable community engagement, how and where businesses operate is getting increasing focus from a client base that is better informed and more discerning. Operating ethically and leaving a positive legacy for people and the planet are becoming more significant factors when choosing who to do business with.
The fact that these considerations are becoming more commonplace is perhaps reflected in the growing visibility and support that a number of notable groups are having in Jersey. Amongst others, the Diversity Network is focusing attention on the benefits of diversity in the workplace. Plastic Free Jersey, supported by Ecoactive, launched into the Island’s consciousness in 2018 with their campaign to ban single-use plastic. The Good Business Charter, which also started last year, is creating a set of standards that recognise businesses which are having a positive impact on Jersey’s people, community, supply chain and environment.
I have to admit to being actively involved in supporting these initiatives because I believe they are creating a conversation that every business leader in Jersey should be engaged with. And, Jersey Business is walking the talk. We are very proud to have just achieved ‘Difera Liberate Employer Accreditation’, which demonstrates to employees, to clients and to suppliers (past, present and future) that we place Diversity, Inclusion, Fairness, Equality, Respect and Acceptance at the heart of what we do.
So, when in one of my recent conversations my companion asked, ‘How ethical are Jersey’s businesses, are they just trampling on others to become successful?’ I could honestly say that the organisation I work for is ethical and does ‘good’ business for all its stakeholders. Can you say the same for yours?