THE FUTURE MBA – GISELLE WEYBRECHT

This book review looks into The Future MBA: 100 ideas for making sustainability the business of business education by Giselle Weybrecht. I followed the ideas closely when Giselle was releasing them daily via social media and it is great to see how it has turned into a physical book.

mba

I came across Giselle through her other book The Sustainable MBA. I thought that book was absolutely outstanding, you can read my short review of that book by clicking the link below.

2017 A YEAR IN LITERATURE

The book opens with some really impressive recommendations by Paul Polman, Richard Lyons and others. The introduction sets the scene and lets readers know about the basis of the book, which was 100 ideas posted online over 100 days to explore what the business degree of the future should look like.

Giselle opines that “Each idea brings with it multiple potential benefits, for the school, the students and, in particular, sustainability in its broadest sense.”

I think that the criticisms and suggestions that Giselle makes are certainly relevant to other degree choices in higher education.

My intention is to pick out what I consider to be the best ideas and the ones that I found most relevant for improving the situation outside of business education.

1.    Suits

I really liked this opening idea and the arguments that Giselle constructed around it. I liked her point below.

Creating a more casual dress environment (within reason) may provide a better setting for the sharing of information and insights, drawn both from successes and failures. It may give students the opportunity to focus on being what they are and not what the sector wants them to be.

13. Risk taking and failure

This was the next idea that really stood out for me. It is important that universities focus on turning out the right kind of candidates and not just candidates who can memorise information and write essays. A healthy relationship with risk and failure is one such skill set.

Giselle writes that “businesses increasingly need graduates who aren’t afraid of questioning assumptions or testing new ideas, graduates that can help create a culture and environment in business that supports risk taking in a constructive way.

23. Influence

I found this idea to be very relevant. I have a big interest in the psychology of persuasion and it is definitely something that needs to be touched upon at university.

26. Plug and play

This idea definitely chimed with my own beliefs on how university courses should be run. It is now a few years since I finished university and with only abstract memories of the main lectures, my memories of the guest lectures remain largely intact because of how engaging they were.

Giselle writes that “in the future, a variety of organisations in particular fields will create regularly updated mini-lectures on the subject on which they specialize, which can be used within business school programmes globally.”

30. Labs

I liked this idea as it emphasises the importance of doing things and not just talking about things. Giselle’s idea is that “rather than bringing together groups of individual researchers publishing papers, labs will be much more action-oriented and involve a wider range of individuals.”

40. Turning off

This was an idea that made a lot of sense to me as I am someone who did not get a smart phone until January 2014. I find these devices to be useful, but extremely distracting, when for quality work concentration is required. I now have my phone on aeroplane mode for a lot of the time, so that I can receive notifications at my time of choosing.

Giselle’s idea is that “students will be asked to leave their cell phones, computers and all other devices at the door for courses where they are not necessary.”

71. Easily accessible

I found this idea very interesting. Ultimately, research is nice, but if it does not influence the real world then it has not been useful.

Giselle writes that “the challenge is not only that many of the publications in this space are not readily accessible to business practitioners, but that they are often not written in a way that is useful or relevant to the actual challenges that businesses are dealing with.”

90. Collaborative action

In this idea Giselle makes a good point about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). While in the sustainability space, they have made a huge impact, in wider society I think people would be shocked about how little the general public know and understand about these ambitious goals.

On this subject Giselle writes that “few business students or faculty have heard of these but, due to their increasing influence over business practice, should be more widely discussed in business education.”

100. A change in language

I really enjoyed this point as I am very passionate about language and its ability to shape perceptions.

Giselle writes that “for many students, ‘sustainability’ and ‘business’ are two completely different concepts.”

What you need to know

This book review looked into The Future MBA by Giselle Weybrecht.

This book proved to be an interesting and impressive read even as someone who has not sat through a business education course.

I found the ideas within the book to be relevant for other university degree courses and society more broadly.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be changed about university education to improve sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

SUSTAINABLE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE SERVICE SECTOR

This article looks into sustainable opportunities that can be seized upon by businesses in the service sector. These tend to be businesses with a lower environmental footprint than other sectors. But as we will see, sustainability is very important for this group of businesses.

london 1

In the UK, the service sector is especially important. This sector accounts for 79% of UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The decline in the numbers of people working in manufacturing and the increase in the numbers of service sector workers is part of a long-term trend. The number of service sector workers overtook the number of manufacturing workers in 1881. This surprised me as I would have thought that it would have happened later than that.

Unsurprisingly, London is dominated by service businesses, with this sector accounting for 91% of the city’s economy.

Whilst the UK’s economy is particularly dominated by the service sector, as the graph below shows, this is a trend that is seen across the G7 countries.

services sector by country (ONS)

Let’s now turn to two sustainable opportunities that service sector businesses should seize upon.

1. Sustainable procurement

Because of the nature of service sector businesses, they will typically have less sustainability variables to manage directly than businesses in other sectors.

What this means, is that your service sector business needs to be bulletproof in its supply chain sustainability. There is no excuse for service sector businesses to have poor sustainability within their supply chain.

Businesses in the service sector depend on inputs from the manufacturing and primary sectors. These need to be selected with sustainability in mind. The new paradigm of sustainability and corporate responsibility dictates that even though you did not produce these inputs, if you purchase them and use them within your business, you are responsible for their sustainability credentials.

Sustainable procurement also offers the opportunity to look for suppliers who are local and who are SME’s. Some consumers may be willing to pay a small premium for these products or display a higher level of brand loyalty.

Sustainable procurement should be seen as partly a risk reduction measure. But it is also about seizing on the opportunity to be the sustainable service provider of choice.

2.  Create green consumers

The marketing channel is an excellent avenue for sustainability. Maybe you have green consumers already, which is a good thing. But if you do not, then it is possible to create them through marketing of sustainability.

You can promote your own and your supplier’s sustainability success stories. These should be short, neatly packaged stories that people can connect with.

You can use communications to demonstrate how the actions you are taking make your consumers environmental footprint smaller.

You can also engage in cause related marketing. This is where a company’s marketing is directly aligned with a charity or cause and each purchase provides a certain amount of benefit to the worthy recipient. This can build reciprocity between the consumer and the business and is an example of a win-win-win outcome. The business wins through sales, the consumer wins as they feel they are making a difference and the charity wins through funding and a raised profile.

All of the techniques discussed help to make your services desirable and memorable. You really can create green consumers.

What you need to know  

This article looked into sustainable opportunities in the services sector.

We looked into how the services sector dominates the UK and other advanced industrial economies.

We looked into how sustainable procurement can make you the sustainable service provider of choice.

We also looked into how through marketing of sustainability, you can create green consumers.

All sectors have a responsibility to help make sustainability happen. The priorities in the services sector a slightly different, but the end state remains the same.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think are the key sustainable opportunities in the services sector?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

PLANIT EARTH – 4 EASY TO IMPLEMENT SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS

This article is based upon an event that I attended in London on Thursday 05/04/18. This was the second Cheeky Panda event that I have attended and this one was equally as inspiring as the first.

Event

The event was hosted in Sustainable Bankside which is a coworking space for sustainable startups located in Southbank. The location is really impressive as is what they have done with the place. The evening began with a few words from James Byrne who is a co-founder and director at Sustainable Workspaces who run the space.

This was followed by a few words from Adam Woodhall who was the MC for the evening. He had one of the best lines of the evening when he described the venue as a “story factory.”

The first speaker of the event was Syed Ahmed the founder and director of Savortex ltd, a multi-award winning, British Green Tech and IoT (Internet of things) company. I was really impressed with the figure that UK businesses could save £23 billion per year by improving the way they use resources and interact with their business premises, specifically how they manage their washrooms. Savortex make the EcoCurve™ range of low energy IoT hand dryers that come with statistics that blow their competition away. The brushless motor technology makes these especially efficient machines. But the most impressive feature for me was the IoT technology which feeds data back to the cloud so that the cleaner only needs to turn up when the washroom is dirty. The screens were also a really cool feature that can be used to promote internal messaging as well as being sold as advertising space. Overall, Syed was clearly an accomplished public speaker and his products have impressive features and benefits.

The next speaker was Nigel Bamford the founder of Waterblade. Nigel is clearly a very charismatic character in the mould of great British inventors. Waterblade takes a trickle of water and transforms it, making it many times more useful for washing your hands. This enables reductions in both water and energy consumption. As the video below shows, this is a quite a simple solution, but it’s impact is transformational.

Waterblade

Waterblade was another company presenting that evening with impressive statistics. If a normal everyday tap would use 20L/min, a typical water saving tap would allow 6L/min, Waterblade only releases an impressive 2.4L/min. It is also easy to retrofit and the savings are very impressive. For a unit that costs £10, a user would save £26/pa. I thought it was really instructive that out of that saving £10 is for the water and £16 is for the energy you save having to heat less water. Overall, Nigel came across as a really nice guy and his product is impressive.

The next speaker was Robert from Symphony Environmental. They offer a really impressive range of solutions for plastic packaging. I found the designed to trace solution that they offer really interesting as I had no idea you could do something like that with plastic packaging. The oxo biodegradable packaging that they offer is also very impressive and comes with the benefit that it could go a long way to solving the litter problem if more packaging like this was used.

The last speaker of the night was Chris Forbes of The Cheeky Panda who was also the organiser of the event. They were debuting a number of new products including pocket tissues, kitchen tissues and napkins. These all come with the usual high standards of environmental performance that you would expect from The Cheeky Panda. For attendees, there was also the benefit of armfuls of freebies that you can see in the picture below. I certainly helped myself to a great deal of these before I left.

Freebies

The Cheeky Panda were also displaying the video that you can see via the link below. This was the first time that I had seen the video and it is certainly very inspirational.

The future is what we choose it to be

Bamboo has incredible properties for use in tissue products and these extend well beyond its fast rate of growth. Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic and its long fibres mean that it is naturally very soft.

Chris also demonstrated the flushable handtowels feature that the Cheeky Panda products come with. This is a really important benefit that saves lot of resources. Chris also talked about the 5,000 tonnes of CO2 that has been saved from clients switching from wood-based tissue products to The Cheeky Panda sustainable bamboo tissue products and this is certainly a great figure to have saved. Chris also talked about their partnership with the World Land Trust on projects that they run in Vietnam to carbon balance their organisation. All that can be said is that this is an organisation that operates to the highest standards on sustainability.

What you need to know

In concluding, then, it must be said that this was an event of very high quality. The breadth and depth of the speakers on offer was really impressive.

All four of the companies offer solutions that are easy to implement, offer great savings and are good for the planet. That is what sustainability is all about.

If you haven’t already attended a Cheeky Panda event, make sure you do the next time they host one.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. Did you attend the event, if so what was your highlight?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

WHAT ARE STAKEHOLDERS CONCEREND ABOUT PART 2

This article looks into common concerns amongst stakeholders. The first part analysed the concerns amongst customers, employees and shareholders. In most businesses these will be the three most important stakeholder groups. You can find a link to the first part below.

WHAT ARE STAKEHOLDERS CONCERNED ABOUT?

Stakez

This part looks into the concerns amongst three other groups of stakeholders. These are suppliers, NGO’s and governments.

4. Suppliers

Companies are increasingly demanding higher standards of environmental and social performance from their suppliers. This includes vigorous vetting on environmental social and governance issues. Similar to investors this is a stakeholder group where risk reduction is a primary concern.

Companies are carrying out this vetting for a number of reasons. They are doing this because of a threat to their own reputations. We are operating in a new paradigm. Before, companies were responsible for their own operations and their own workers. Now, with the proliferation of subcontracting and the rising in importance of environmental and social issues, companies are responsible for the activities of their suppliers.

Companies are also looking to work with suppliers who can help them improve their own performance. This has therefore placed an emphasis on opportunity maximisation amongst this stakeholder group. Lots of sectors are incredibly competitive and if you are not able to provide low carbon good and services, there is a good chance a competitor of yours is.

Methods such as pre-qualification questionnaires have become commonplace. This can include caveats that suppliers who reach a certain threshold of sales have accreditations such as the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems. Also, for industries with a history of scandals in the supply chain such as footwear and apparel, it may be required for suppliers to submit to random visits and periodic auditing to ensure compliance.

Overall, suppliers are a stakeholder group where sustainability is a primary concern and where environmental and social issues are rising in importance.

5. NGO’s

NGO’s are a stakeholder group whose importance continues to rise. There may be some hard-nosed business executives who would question whether NGO’s count as stakeholders at all. But if you adhere to the definition of a stakeholder as “a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.” Then NGO’s are not only a stakeholder, but a very important and influential grouping.

NGO’s who campaign on social and environmental issues perform an important watchdog function in society. Many of them possess an enormous amount of technical expertise which they can bring to bear on their particular areas of interest. They can act as a counterweight to politicians and government agencies which can fall foul to the influence of corporate lobbyists.

NGO’s can launch attacks against businesses through both the mainstream and social media. Mud sticks and it can take a great deal of time for businesses to repair their damaged reputation. NGO’s can also launch boycotts which can have a more direct impact on businesses bottom lines.

Some NGO’s take a more cooperative approach and work with businesses to help them set up roundtables to improve the social and environmental performance of particular sectors.

Overall, NGO’s are organisations that care deeply about their particular area of interest. Their concerns are primarily around avoiding greenwash and making sure that sustainability is implemented in practice and not just in rhetoric.

6. Governments

Some readers may dispute the way I have ranked governments as only the 6th most important stakeholder group. But there is a reason for this.

Governments are not monolithic. They react to the concerns of all of the stakeholder groups that I have previously mentioned.

They also wear many hats. On the one hand, governments are organisations that possess an enormous buying power and so they can influence businesses via that channel.

On the other hand, they rely on taxes which are raised from the private sector so they have an interest in ensuring a healthy and vibrant economy.

Governments are also made up of politicians who are accountable to their constituents and so they react to the concerns that emanate from the populace.

Governments also have to act upon international treaties that they are signed up to.

So, as we can see, governments are organisations with limited means but a seemingly unlimited list of parties seeking to influence their decision makers. As such they are interested in preventing businesses from inflicting social and environmental harm on society, but they also have an interest in fostering a hospitable environment for businesses to grow.

Governments can seek to influence the priorities of businesses with regard to social and environmental issues with regulations, taxation and the threat of such actions.

Overall, governments are a stakeholder group that has many contradictions with respect to sustainability and corporate responsibility.

What you need to know

This article was the second in a two-part series which looked into common concerns amongst stakeholders.

The first part looked into the concerns of customers, employees and shareholders.

This part looked into the concerns of suppliers, NGO’s and governments.

For suppliers, this is a group which is focussed on risk reduction as they need to minimise any risk that they may pass on to partners in the supply chain.

NGO’s are primarily concerned with results and preventing sustainability from being something that exists only on paper. NGO’s perform a function of holding businesses to account either cooperatively or uncooperatively.

Governments are a stakeholder group with a wide range of concerns with respect to sustainability and corporate responsibility. They are able to exact influence via a number of channels and can be a vehicle for enormous change.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the stakeholder concerns that I laid out in this article?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

WHAT ARE STAKEHOLDERS CONCERNED ABOUT?

This article looks into the common concerns of three different types of stakeholders. Listening to and addressing stakeholder concerns is the bedrock of corporate responsibility.

stake pic

Stakeholders are groups who have an interest in the company. I have always found it useful to differentiate between internal stakeholders and external stakeholders as shown in the diagram below.

stakeholder diagram

The sequencing of this article is no mistake and it is based on the vision of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.

Jack Ma – Why Customer comes First

1. Customers

Customers have a range of valid concerns about the businesses that they buy goods from.

Chief among these is a lack of trust. It’s not just the major scandals such as Enron and the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout that have damaged customer’s trust in businesses. But excessive executive compensation for what in some cases is sub optimal performance has also damaged trust in businesses.

Taking a look at the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, we can pick out a number of interesting findings.

If we look at the figure below, the trust in business in the general population survey, the figure of just 52% of people trusting business is remarkably low, albeit higher than government and the media. It was interesting that the informed public figure was higher and that the number was down one percent year on year.

Trust Graphic

The figure below on the public’s expectations of CEO’s was the other statistic that really jumped out at me when I was reading this year’s Trust Barometer.

The fact that 64% of respondents said that they expect CEO’s to lead on issues and not wait to be regulated shows that we are operating in a new paradigm. The risky option is to do nothing. The safest option is to move forward with sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Business expected to lead graphic

Try and create a business that stands for and embodies noble values and live up to those values whenever and wherever your business operates. Social and environmental issues fit into this category.

With the advent of the internet and social media, customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their ability to access information about the social and environmental performance of businesses.

No one wants to shop at a company that they know is deliberately causing harm to the planet or its inhabitants. This sort of activity does not make your brand aspirational and can take a long time to rectify.

Customers are increasingly concerned about what went into your product to get it onto the shelf, how it uses resources whilst it functions and how easy the product and its packaging are to recycle after it is used.

Businesses should be ready to be challenged on these areas and should strive for excellence in the social and environmental performance of their offering.

2. Employees

Employees are the second most important stakeholder group and businesses should pay attention to what concerns them.

Employees are concerned about the things that they have always been interested in. This includes areas such as pay, job security, working conditions and job satisfaction. But the 21st century has seen the development of new concerns amongst employees that move beyond their historical areas of interest.

Employees are increasingly focused on the reputation of the company. This is an asset for companies such as Patagonia and Interface who draw top talent towards them. But this is a liability for companies with a bad record on social and environmental issues, who will find it hard to attract the best talent.

People also like to work for businesses who hold similar values to themselves. In many cases this will be responsible businesses who give back to communities and work to minimise their impact on the environment.

3. Shareholders

Investors are a stakeholder group with very specific concerns. Shareholders are often very concerned about how companies they have invested in operate their governance structures and they are increasingly interested in social and environmental aspects too.

Most institutional shareholders will be investors with long time horizons. They aim to commit capital with time preferences much longer than any individuals. As such, their primary concern is risk. This includes reputational risks, operational risks and social and environmental risks. These risks all have the ability to jeopardise investments and possibly lead to a loss of principal.

Other concerns include those held by practitioners of responsible investing. This small but growing area looks for a balance between financial return and social and environmental aspects. This can be in the form of screening out of negative investments or positive screening for sustainable investments.

Other investors may simply view sustainability and corporate responsibility as indicators of good governance. If businesses are willing to go far out of their way to cover matters that are not statutory, they are surely very unlikely to have any issues with legal compliance.

Overall, interest in sustainable investment and sustainable finance more broadly is an area which is not only growing but will become increasingly important going forward.

There was an article which I came across last week which impressed me and I felt really showed how important sustainable finance is. You can find a link to this below.

Did Project Drawdown miss a crucial climate solution?

I think it is empowering because we all make decisions of how to save for the future and plan for retirement. We need to see a mainstreaming of responsible investment and if that happens the impact would be enormous.

What you need to know  

This article looked into the common concerns of three different types of stakeholders.

We looked at customers, who have a very low level of trust in businesses. Sustainability and corporate responsibility can address this.

We looked at employees who are moving beyond their common concerns to evaluate whether they share common values with their employer or prospective employer.

We looked at shareholders and this is a subgroup which is characterised with an excessive concern with risk management.

Overall, these are three incredibly important stakeholder groups who responsible businesses would be engaging with and solving any problems that arise.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the stakeholder concerns that I laid out in this article?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

WHY COMMUNITY RELATIONS MATTER PART 2

This article looks into community relations. This is the second in a two-part series on community relations and why they matter to businesses.

high_street

The first part focused on the opportunities that good community relations present. You can find a link to this below.

WHY COMMUNITY RELATIONS MATTER

This part focuses on the risks that poor community relations pose to businesses.

1.    Expensive clashes

If your business drifts into an antagonistic relationship with your local community, this can cause real problems.

It may be the case that your customers are located far away and for them this is not an issue, but poor community relations like this can impose real costs.

There is the possibility of legal costs brought about by lawsuits that the local community may bring against you. There is also the potential reputational damage that can be done. Even if you are successful in winning these lawsuits, many people may go away thinking that where there is smoke, there is fire.

There is also the issue of time. Time is a precious commodity that is all too often forgotten in business circles. Team members may be diverted away from their primary business functions to deal with antagonism with the community and this imposes real costs.

Some companies may be able to pull labour towards them from great distances. But most companies will depend on local labour to fill some positions. This can become problematic if your business has poor relations with the local community. People want to work for companies that they are proud to tell their friends and family about. Poor community relations impose costs on businesses by making people hesitant to work for you.

Another cost that poor community relations inflicts on businesses is that of security. This only comes to bare in extreme cases but it is a cost nonetheless. Community relations may deteriorate to such an extent that you are forced to invest in security measures such as secure parking and gates, CCTV and access controls for your buildings.

As we can see, poor community relations can impose real and tangible costs to businesses. This can be avoided by community engagement and corporate responsibility.

2.  Risk of not being welcome

We touched on this briefly last time as good community relations certainly makes relocating easier. The opposite is also true for poor community relations. Poor community relations can make relocating difficult and, in some cases, impossible.

If your business has a reputation for poor community relations, you can expect to encounter a lot of resistance if you decide to relocate or move into a new area.

This could involve many of the costs talked about in point one, but it could also spill into the political realm. Local politicians who would normally welcome businesses into their community, may choose to take the side of the local protestors if they are numerous enough.

This is particularly an issue in countries that are known to have NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome. Your business may have enough money and all of the permits in the world. But passionate local people who do not want you in the community can outlast you and your resources. The best solution is to not let your corporate reputation get to this state and to develop a reputation for excellence in community relations instead.

3.  NGO / social media campaigns

The internet has made the world a much smaller place. Social media in particular has not only shrunk timescales but democratised the media in a way that few could have envisaged.

Now everyone with a smartphone and some social media accounts can post highly critical messages, pictures and even live stream videos about corporate malfeasance that they do not like. This power is simply incredible.

I would argue that no group of organisations has been shrewder with their use of social media than NGO’s (non-governmental organisations). Environmental NGO’s have been particularly astute with their use of social media.

These environmental NGO’s are always hunting for new instances of corporate irresponsibility. Don’t let your business get caught in their crosshairs.

These NGO’s can launch pointed and highly critical campaigns against businesses that they see as inflicting damage on society or the environment. This can spin off into more mainstream news channels and become a major source of embarrassment and a major distraction for businesses.

The best strategy is to be a business that gives back to the communities in which they operate and to engage with and solicit advice from NGO’s.

What you need to know

This article, which was the second in a two-part series on community relations looked into the risks which poor community relations pose to businesses.

We looked into the real costs which antagonistic local community relationships can impose on businesses.

We looked into the possibility that businesses with a poor track record on community relations can find it difficult and, in some cases, impossible to relocate.

We also looked into the new and emerging risk that NGO and social media campaigns pose to businesses with poor community relations.

Overall, community relations matter. There are real opportunities which can be seized by businesses who take the time to give back to their communities. Likewise, there are real costs which are imposed on businesses who take from their local communities.

Smart businesses move to corporate responsibility because of the risk and opportunity framework that I have laid out in these two articles. Others move towards corporate responsibility because of a sense of moral duty. It doesn’t matter what drives you, the important thing is that you try to give back.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think are the risks that poor community relations present to businesses?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

WHY COMMUNITY RELATIONS MATTER

This article looks into community relations and why they matter to businesses. Some people may subscribe to the notion put forward by Milton Friedman that “the business of business is business.” But things change and this is no longer the case. Good community relations can add real value to businesses and poor community relations can impose real costs to businesses.

uk-high-street

This article will focus on the opportunities that good community relations present

1. Build a well of good will

A big opportunity that comes with being a leader on corporate responsibility and from developing good community relations is that you can build up a well of good will. Businesses operate within society and within the environment. To be successful businesses depend on access to structures larger than themselves.

economy

By building strong relations with the community within which your business operates, you can solve issues before they become problems.

If people know that your business is approachable and they have seen you being active in the community, they will come to you. They will come to you when there is a minor problem and hopefully you can solve that problem together.

All good businesses will at some point need to expand. That could be expanding on the same site, at a different site in the local area or at a different site in a new area. If your business has developed a well of goodwill through strong management of its community relations, this process will be a lot easier.

Issues such as the planning process can be made far easier by being active in the community. If people know you as a business of high moral standards that looks after its people, the community and the planet, they are less likely to go to extreme lengths to frustrate any planning applications that you may submit.

 2. Build a reputation for excellence

By having a top quality corporate responsibility policy and strategy, your business can develop a reputation for excellence. All businesses want their product or service to be thought of as being of the highest calibre. But community relations matter and all businesses should strive for excellence in this realm too.

Your business should look to campaign on local issues and build local partnerships.

Perhaps there is a homeless charity in the vicinity. Make sure you are there for them when they need you.

Perhaps there is a foodbank in your local area. Be there for them when their supplies are running low.

By being in the right place at the right time and serving the community within which your business exists your business can create a reputation for excellence that is far bigger than the products or services it delivers.

This allows you to build a reputation for excellence. These reputational benefits are highly valuable. They allow you to become a trusted partner in your community and they force people to see you as a giver and not a taker.

3. Build a skilled local workforce

Great companies need great workers. It has been said that we are in a global war for talent. Whether this is true or not, what is clear is that businesses succeed by recruiting and retaining the best staff.

Businesses can gain a greater control over the local labour supply by investing in training local people. Once hired, these people are likely to show greater loyalty and stay for longer than a candidate that has come from afar.

Businesses can also help out by running local CV workshops, allowing their employees to volunteer in the community and by taking students on work experience placements.

All of these activities allow your business to be a key player in building a skilled local workforce. This makes smart business sense and is good for society which is what corporate responsibility is all about.

What you need to know

This article looked into community relations and why they matter to businesses.

Businesses can use strong community relations as a hedge to build up a well of goodwill should they need to take from or place a burden on the community at a later date.

Businesses can use an astute corporate responsibility programme to develop a reputation for excellence that transcends the products or services they deliver.

Businesses can be active in the community and solve problems such as skills shortages themselves.

Overall community relations matter to businesses. They should choose to be active in their communities out of enlightened self-interest because it makes smart business sense. But they should also choose to be active in their communities out of a sense of corporate moral responsibility.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the importance of community relations to businesses?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby