The importance of driving your business strategy with purpose, for the planet and the people.
This month, the Elephants team had the opportunity to speak at this year’s MRS Conference: Impact 2022. Our panel discussion on ‘what makes a good business’ with key figures from Dole, Bio&Me, Pura and The British Heart Foundation was exciting to put together. But, aside from leading a panel, we were also able to watch other great speakers’ broadcasts within the 2-day event.
A speaker who resonated with us was Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and presently Chair of Imagine. Under his leadership, he made Unilever a purpose-driven company. He eloquently argued that, in a volatile world of finite resources, running a business sustainably is vital for its long-term growth and societal impact.
Within his session, he also urged businesses to think more regeneratively and be restorative in their actions, for the long-term future of the planet and society. This particularly resonated with us, as much of our recent work with clients has focused on improving the planet with their brands and ways to grow more sustainably.
Here is a highlight of some of Polman’s key points on how to create a successful, purpose–driven company:
- Companies should take responsibility of their everyday impact on the world. This means thinking about how do they impact groups, individuals and the planet in a broader sense.
- Companies should focus on optimising return for ALL stakeholders. They should ensure that everyone in the company and future generations are taken into account in business decisions.
- Consumers expect companies to have an opinion on things. So, companies should react to things in a form of leadership inspired by the people as a whole.
- A successful business requires listening, awareness, humanity and humility.
- Companies with courageous leaders are key.
Polman concluded by describing this as a positive opportunity, saying that “we can do so much with what’s possible” and that the “cost of acting is more than not acting”.
Polman also spoke about his recent book ‘Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take’, co-authored with Andrew Winston. Winston is a globally recognized expert on how companies can profit from solving the world’s biggest challenges. This is a book which is definitely on our reading lists!
The team at Elephants look forward to helping drive more purposeful brands and strategies for long-term success and growth. A big thank you to Polman and Earle for the insightful session.