Creating a Better Business … that has a purpose beyond profit … acts for broader society … and enables good
March 8, 2020
A “better” business
- Has purpose beyond profit … believes that profit is not its purpose, but the outcome of an effective business that seeks to achieve a better purpose for society.
- Acts for broader society … acts beyond self interest, demonstrating respect for people and building relationships that benefit business and society
- Enables good … becomes a platform for change, and force for good, to deliver clear benefits to society as well as delivering long term sustainable performance.
The Blueprint Trust is an independent charity seeking a better business. It defines a blueprint for better business.
Here is how Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, described it in July 2018: “Blueprint for Better Business challenges companies to be a force for good and contribute to a better society. Such a system is fundamentally about delivering a basic social contract comprised of relative equality of outcomes; equality of opportunity; and fairness across generations. Blueprint’s Five Principles provide guidance for businesses and reflect the foundations needed for responsible business: honesty and fairness; good citizenship; responsible employment; guardians for future generations; and a purposeful business that delivers long-term sustainable performance.
The ‘Five Principles of a Purpose Driven Business’ is a picture of what a company that is guided and inspired by a purpose that serves society might look like. It sets out where an organisation seeks to get to rather than where it is, and not intended to be exhaustive.
The ‘Framework to Guide Decision Making’ outlines the behaviours needed to sustain purpose. It also provides the link to the underlying provenance of Blueprint, which is one of its distinguishing features. The provenance is derived from a strong foundation of learning from society, including social and behavioural sciences, faith and philosophy.
Similarly Richard Branson has been the driving force behind “The B Team”
Beck in 2013, when launching the initiative in Davos, he said “I’m excited about debating the need to develop deep reforms that can have a lasting positive impact on the world. From climate change to shortages in natural resources, bio-diversity loss to economic inequality and corruption, we are taking on 10 big Challenges. The way we work is changing forever and the sooner businesses recognise this, the better. The B Team members are starting at home by committing to advance these 10 Challenges within their own companies.”
Key people on the B Team include Paul Polman and Jochen Zeitz (Kering), Emmanuel Faber (Danone) and Marc Benioff (Salesforce), Muhammad Yunus to Hamdi Ulakaya (Chobani).
The B Team set out to address 10 big challenges:
- Drive full transparency
- Foster collaboration
- Restore nature
- Scale true accounting
- Create thriving communities
- Reinvent market incentives
- Ensure dignity and fairness
- Redefine reward systems
- Value diversity
- Lead for the long run
“We believe that for a better tomorrow for our communities, our companies and our planet, we need bold leadership now.
Our current economic model is broken. But it did not break itself. And it will not repair itself. We, as private sector and civil society leaders, envision the way forward as a better way of doing business. That’s why we’re working to shift the culture of accountability in business to include not only numbers and performance, but people and planet.
We acknowledge that while we are part of the problem, we have the responsibility—and the power—to lead on the solution. We will create new norms of corporate leadership that go beyond commitment and toward fundamental transformation today, for a better tomorrow.”
“This shared value has brought together a close community of peers where difficult decisions can be embraced, and timely, large-scale change can be achieved. We are driven by a clear strategy and dedicate our collective influence to encourage others—and ourselves—to take personal risks to do what is right. We at The B Team choose to take the more difficult yet more rewarding path.”
- Purpose and principles: Leading with purpose means examining why it is you do what you do—and that isn’t to make a profit. Purpose sets forth intentions that will make a tangible difference in the world. But purpose alone is not enough. It might be a starting point, but leaders need a strong set of principles to bring their purpose to life. And at this crucial turning point for leadership, we believe there are three principles leaders must holistically and boldly embrace: sustainability, equality and accountability.
- Humility: Leaders operating with humility have an honest understanding of their strengths and limitations. They are not seeking to be the hero of their company, but rather a part of a community. A humble leader actively and continually admits to their imperfections while seeking to learn and grow.
- Courage: Courageous leaders are willing to take a personal risk for what is right and use their voice when it matters most. They choose to take the often difficult yet more rewarding path. They acknowledge that the global economic model is broken, but it did not break itself and they have a responsibility to repair it.
In 2015 The B Team launched the 100% Human at Work initiative and network as they believed it was “time for businesses to stop looking at people as resources and to start seeing them as human beings”. The B Team have built the People Innovation Network, to bring companies together to share and learn from one another about how to help their employees thrive at work.
In 2016, as part of their work for The B Team Sir Richard Branson and Benioff launched a movement of entrepreneurs and business leaders building their companies with people and planet alongside profit as part of their DNA from the outset, called “Born B'”.