Most companies would like to drive positive change for people and planet. It can be difficult however defining and implementing your unique responsible business strategy, clearly communicating it to investors, employees and customers and growing purposeful culture.
We asked Debra Sobel, co-founder and CEO at Verity London, for her expert views on how to get it right. Here’s what she had to say:
What does “responsible business” mean to you?
To me, it’s about how each organisation looks after its people, the communities in which it operates and the impact it makes on the environment, alongside creating sustainable growth.
What drew you to working in the responsible business space?
I have a fundamental belief that all businesses should create value for society, alongside creating profit. When businesses get this right, they can drive genuine positive change and be a true force for good. I absolutely love that Verity London helps clients achieve this, through our sustainability consultancy, strategic communications activity and creative campaigns and content.
When you help a company develop their strategy, what are some of the things you’ll be looking at?
First, we always need to understand where a company and its leadership are at when it comes to being responsible. Are there existing purpose and values? Are there meaningful principles in place? What purposeful activity is the company already doing? Does the organisation align with any of the UN SDGs or other framework? Is there a clear overarching narrative in place which authentically expresses the company’s agenda, commitments and any progress?
What are some things not to do when setting your strategy?
Do not set targets without knowing how you are going to achieve them! This isn’t about announcing big audacious goals – but about genuinely looking at your organisation’s heritage, specific expertise and services and products to see how you can uniquely create societal and environmental value and impact across all your decision making, behaviours, operations and activities.
If a business is right at the beginning of their responsible business journey, what do you say?
Not to worry! We work with companies no matter where they are up to. Whether you’re just starting out, or have a very well-developed strategy – our senior team of strategic communication strategists and creative talent can help.
We know consumers care about businesses being outwardly sustainable, but how much do investors care, in your experience?
Investors increasingly care about how companies make a positive difference in the world. And it’s not just enough for businesses to work on their Environmental, Social and Governance goals – but to be able to communicate these clearly via investor relations too.
How exactly do you help businesses better communicate their sustainability goals and progress?
Amongst other things – we consult with key stakeholders to analyse what they understand about the business’ current sustainability ambitions, how they can get involved and what the goals mean on a daily basis for their departments, teams and as individuals. We use the insight gathered to feed into the development of sustainability communication strategy and planning.
We develop consistency in language, so everyone knows what your business means when it talks about driving change. We articulate clear overarching positioning (often a messaging framework) and express it as a meaningful responsible business approach. This helps makes sense of all siloed purposeful activity and gives everyone something tangible to stand behind.
Finally, we produce authentic, creative content – from videos to case studies, employee toolkits to Impact Reports – which bring an organisation’s sustainability activity to life.
How do you think what we do makes a difference?
We believe that all businesses should be responsible. Our mission is to help as many as possible to get there. We are a purpose-driven agency and genuinely believe we make a difference. This isn’t just through our client work, but through the commitments and initiatives we also make to people and planet as an agency ourselves.
Verity London is the strategy and communications agency for responsible business. If you would like to know more about the services we offer, and how your responsible business story can be developed and shared with your stakeholders, learn more about what we do at https://veritylondon.co.uk/our-approach