The difference that a business can make day-to-day is largely influenced by its awareness of environmental needs, its impact in reality, and how it can most meaningfully contribute.
It means taking time to be completely honest about every aspect of the business – it means being ready to face up to the reality of the decision-making. Finding out if you are a three-strike* business; facing up to the possibilities of major change. It is challenging, however, the rewards are huge. People feel proud about being part of the business, motivated to do the best job, feel connected to something meaningful, and most of all – people will be making a positive difference on this planet, not a destructive one.
How do you become aware?
1. Know who you are as a business. Who are your people, what values do you hold in decision-making positions – are these the same for everyone in the company? Remember, values are not written on a piece of paper – they are what drive decisions and practice day-to-day, in reality. To find out you will need people to be honest – you’ll need to be honest with yourself… when it comes down to it, what drives your business? The answer is never just money…
2. Know your product or service – every bit of it. Know where your resources are sourced, know who the people are – right through the supply chain. If you can’t find out or knowledge is slim – change that immediately – ignorance is never an excuse. Identify the tools required to make your product or service – this may include a variety of vehicles such as heavy lifting equipment, container ships, computers, servers… map everything. Know your product, know your service end to end.
3. Know your workplace. From the building/s you occupy to the equipment you use, to the vehicles your staff use to get to the workplace, the food you eat there, the furniture you have, the utilities you use, to the products and tools used day-to-day – cleaning/ablutions, printing, shredding, flyers, business cards, online advertising… map everything. Know your workplace inside out.
4. Estimate the likely impact. Work out what is probably having a negative impact, little impact or a positive impact – this does not have to be a detailed analysis at this stage. But be prepared – it is likely it will be far worse than one would like to admit, but go for it. Once you’ve set it out, you’ve taken the most important step to make a meaningful contribution – and the most critical to helping this planet.
5. Identify the most influential parts of your product/service and your workplace. What is critical to the business? For example, it may be the key sources, the place of production, transportation, point of sale – and the people at each point.
6. Go back to your values – work out the strengths and influence of your organisation. Ask the question – what can you change through the power of your business; the collective potential of your people? This is likely to be far more than you imagine… Values drive change – they ensure real commitment and genuine connection. Your strengths and influence will come from here – and it is here that your biggest contribution to the planet will be made.
And be aware – if you say one thing and do another, everyone knows – greenwashing or anything like it is a hollow existence. By contrast, committing to genuine, aligned action will not only feel substantial – it will provide purpose and meaning for everyone involved.
*Three-strike business = a business that is not fit for earth in three fundamental ways. We have an article coming that will explain in further detail.