Each of us and the organisations we represent will leave a legacy. Have you ever considered what will be your legacy? We have defined what we believe is a legacy businesses can be proud of. A positive and meaningful legacy. One that you and your organisation can embrace and use in your employer value proposition, customer engagement and in all communications. We have curated 10 essential commitments for being a responsible business in 2021 and beyond that we call your ‘LEGACY DECLARATION’. We have built this declaration based on the 10 metatrends of responsible business we have recognised through our research, client engagement, experience and aligned to the needs of stakeholders. In addition, we have included some key actions for inspiration.
We are all familiar with big trends like digitisation, big data, technology, and urbanisation. However, a metatrend goes beyond the normal trends. It reflects a deeper zeitgeist of change. An undeniable change that is happening under the surface and driving the future direction of responsible business. We must not just be aware but manage for these metatrends, not just in 2021 but over the next 5-10 years. So, let us explore the metatrends that define our 10 essential commitments .
1. Responsible values: Our business is responsible
We can only be accountable for our actions. And our decisions and actions are guided by our values and principles. There are 5 core values associated with what being a responsible business are. These are inclusivity, integrity, legacy, stewardship, and transparency. How might these be encapsulated in your own organizations values and principles?
Action: It is time that we take stock and review and revise our values and principles to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Inclusivity, Integrity, Legacy, Stewardship, Transparency
2. Circularity: Our business is circular
All systems, technologies and business models evolve. We use s-curves to represent that evolution. We believe we are at the junction of a jump in s-curves. From a linear system to a circular system. Typical of all evolutionary jumps, when a jump happens for many it looks like a backward step, very different to familiar ways, difficult to grasp, it does not feel disruptive, nor non-threatening. But it is a disruptive force, and we must recognise this.
Action: We need to jump the curve, make that transition, and change the model. Or be left behind
3. Climate positivity: Our business is climate positive
It would be remiss of us to not include being climate positive as a metatrend. Have you asked yourself, what is the temperature of my business? Am I zero °C, 1.5°C, 2°C or 6°C? i.e. what is the trajectory of my business as it aligns to keeping global temperature increase below 1.5°C. Investors are now rating businesses on their temperature as it correlates to their greenhouse gas emissions and alignment to the Paris agreement targets. We must strive to be a zero °C business – we can look to achieve this by:
Action: Define the pathways to decarbonise all our customer, supplier, investment, and employee engagements. To think about all the touchpoints we have and one by one decarbonise them.
4. Above & beyond: Our business goes beyond compliance
Being a responsible business is more and more about being compliant to international standards be they non-financial reporting, ISO14001, accreditation to Ecovadis, benchmarked by CDP or rated by MSCI, addressing the SDGs, aligned to TCFD or science based targets. As a price of entry, we can and must be compliant. But we will only differentiate ourselves by going above and beyond mere compliance. We must demonstrate vision, ambition, inspiration, innovation, and collaborative solutions.
Action: Nail the basis and deliver amazing surprises.
5. Stakeholder focus: Our business is stakeholder focused
Being focused primarily on shareholders represented by the stock markets (highlighted here in black) has been driving certain short term focused behaviours in business for many years. But shareholders are just one of many, many stakeholders. Stakeholders, near and far to our business are vital to our success and how we are as a ‘responsible business’. Stakeholders may be suppliers, customers, employees, our kids, our peers, our neighbours. It is ensuring we consider the interdependency of our stakeholders and take an holistic approach to our engagements.
Action: It is time we became stakeholder centric and convert our sustainability actions into stakeholder value.
6. Society centricity: Our business is society centric
From a Future of Work Institute, Cpl whitepaper they shared that from their research 80% of business will be more society centric in the next 5 years. They provided a model and blueprint for designing the future of work for organisations. A key insight in the paper and the work is that to be truly society centric we must:
Action: Make caring a business asset.
7. Natural capital criticality: Our business is natural capital obsessed
We are all familiar with human capital, financial capital, intellectual capital, social capital. We believe for too long business has overlooked natural capital. Nature runs on sunlight and gravity. There is no landfill. Everything is biodegradable and recycled. Nature banks on diversity and only works with what is available. And natural systems share risks. Consider biomimicry in your innovation processes.
Action: Our perspectives on natural capital must go beyond viewing nature for what we can extract, harvest, or domesticate. But for what we can learn and apply into our business.
- Nature runs on sunlight and gravity
- In the living world there is no landfill, instead, materials flow, and everything is biodegradable
- Nature banks on diversity
- Nature demands works with what is locally available
- Natural systems share risks
8. Inclusivity: Our business is inclusive
We, as humans have this innate need to belong. Regardless of our diverse abilities, perspectives, thoughts, neurodiversity, generational, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences, health needs etc, we have the right to: Be respected, empowered, and appreciated.
Action: We must be inclusive leaders and colleagues within the diversity in our business and with all our stakeholders.
Belonging – Inclusion means that all people, regardless of their diverse abilities, perspectives, thoughts, neurodiversity, generational, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences, health needs etc, have the right to: Be respected, empowered, and appreciated as valuable members of our organisation.
9. ESG & commercial: Our business is ESG aligned and commercial
No normal business can run efficiently without creating revenues, financial reporting, raising funds, engaging banks. The financiers are not just looking at our balance sheet and profit and loss, but also at our environmental, social and governance credentials in how they assess the viability of our business.
Action: We need to run a great business, not just create sustainable products, processes, and services. We need the right talent, business acumen, visionary leadership, governance, be financially sound and deliver compelling offerings.
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Larry Fink, CEO Blackrock Investments
10. Impactful design, purposeful & regenerative: Our business is impactful with purpose
No legacy declaration would be complete with a commitment to being impactful and purposeful. Employees, customers, and other stakeholders align their own purpose with that of the organisations. We must use the discipline of transformation design as a means to create the systems, products and organisation that align to our responsible business purpose.
Action: To ensure a better future, and a key input to our purpose we must put regenerative at the core of our strategic design.
TRANSFORMATION DESIGN is a human-centred, interdisciplinary process that seeks to create desirable and sustainable changes in behaviour and form – of individuals, products, systems, and organizations for now and into the future.