Seriously, are you MAD? If not, you should be.
No, not MAD like that, are you Making A Difference?
Remsol founder Lee Petts talked about why it’s crucial to have a purpose beyond profit in this blog recently, and we thought it would be a good idea to delve a little deeper into why, if you’re not already MAD, you should be.
Marks and Spencer plc provides a fantastic example.
In January 2007 it launched Plan A (because there is no Plan B). Its published accounts in March that year show it recorded a turnover of £8.5 billion in the 12 months prior. Fast-forward to its most recent accounts and you’ll find that turnover has grown to £10.5 billion.
It’s probably not possible to attribute all of that growth to Plan A, because retail is a fickle business, but it has almost certainly played a significant part in attracting ethical shoppers to the brand.
According to Ethical Consumer magazine, the value of all ethical spending in 2015 rose by a record-breaking 8.5% to £38 billion – it was the thirteenth consecutive year of growth, reflecting the continued appeal of ethical products in the UK. A quick look at Google Trends shows that search volumes for “ethical brands” have been steadily rising in the last 5 years. Furthermore, YouGov research in 2010 found that half of UK consumers say that they would like to buy from companies that have a strong CSR programme in place, with 7 out of 10 shoppers saying they like shopping with companies who ‘visibly give something back to society’ and 81% of UK consumers saying that they do not like buying products from companies they ‘disapprove of’.
Marks and Spencer’s Plan A has helped it to tap into this growing trend with a range of initiatives that not only mean it appeals to socially, environmentally and ethically-conscious consumers, but that also make a real impact.
For instance, it has introduced a commitment to achieve a 20% reduction in food waste by 2020. To help, it now redistributes surplus, unsold food to over 500 charities, food banks, community centres, community cafés and hospices across the UK making life a little easier for low-income families, for example. It also operates Marks and Start, a work placement programme which helps people who face barriers getting into work, including single parents, people with disabilities or health conditions, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and young people.
Marks and Spencer also claims to be the world’s only retailer to have achieved carbon neutral operations on a global basis, and has done a lot to boost sustainable sourcing – in fact, Ethical Consumer gave it its Best Ethical Consumer rating for supply chain management in March 2017.
So, why should you get MAD?
Well, there are several reasons but it’s the continuing trend for ethical buying that matters here because, eventually, it will affect everyone in the entire value chain.
You may not sell B2C, but that doesn’t mean your business will be immune to the changes going on around you. Marks and Spencer explains on its website “We’re heavily dependent on our supply chain to deliver our Plan A commitments. We’re committed to working in partnership with responsible suppliers who can help us deliver Plan A.” That’s right – if you want to work for Marks and Spencer, expect to have to conform to its standards on sustainability and CSR.
Right now, embracing sustainability and CSR and doing business in a way that means you’re making a difference provides a competitive advantage. Eventually though, if you’re not on board, you’re going to find it virtually impossible to participate in the value chain of any product that eventually reaches and serves consumer markets.
By making a difference you can access more and better talent. There are countless studies that reveal how people increasingly want to work for businesses that have a purpose beyond profit, a point made by Lee in his blog on the topic. According to Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work by Deloitte, employees’ motivations have changed: today’s workers, it says, have a new focus on purpose, mission, and work-life integration. More than twice as many employees are now motivated by work passion than career ambition (12 percent vs. 5 percent). In The Millennial Survey 2015 Deloitte found that six out of 10 Millennials (a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century) said a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. If you’re making a difference whilst making money, you’ll find it easier to attract better performing, and more engaged and productive people – leaving your competitors with what’s left.
And you’ll find it easier to acquire and maintain your social licence to operate by making a difference. The communities in which businesses are located increasingly expect them to behave transparently, openly and in a manner that benefits society more widely, not just the people that work there.
If you’re not already MAD, where should you start?
Easy: with the things you can control, which is to say the things inside your organisation.
We’ve published a list of 10 real examples of CSR that provide a host of ideas for the sorts of things you can do to start making a difference in your business, ranging from paying the Living Wage Foundation’s national living wage, to reducing energy use and associated emissions.
Getting MAD will help you:
– gain a competitive advantage
– access more and better talent
– acquire and maintain your social licence to operate
Want some assistance? Remember, [email protected] or you can call us on 0345 123 2544.