Economic uncertainty has highlighted more than ever the need for organisations and businesses to engage with customers or clients, but to do so authentically.
While ‘purpose’ outlines a mission or reason for launching an organisation and helps explains why it exists, a purposeful business goes beyond CSR or claiming to benefit the wider community and demonstrates that ethical efforts are embedded in growth strategies, which is also influential in retaining the best people within that organisation.
Welsh craft brewer Drop Bear Beer Co. is the world’s first certified carbon neutral alcohol-free brewer. Co-founder Joelle Drummond explains: “The climate emergency and change in how many of us work has turned the spotlight on how businesses operate and the values consumers place on goods and services.
“Ethical strategies are no longer an ‘added extra’ but are necessary. People are paying more attention to the culture and actions of businesses: calling out unethical companies has become normal – especially online.
“Businesses have been perceived as the big bad wolf, at times for good reason. But we have an opportunity to change this view by making ethics a key strategy for all businesses to create and expand upon.”
Jessica Leigh-Jones MBE created educational organisation iungo solutions three years ago at the age of 25.
‘iungo’ translates as ‘to connect’ and Jessica’s experiential learning programme does just that – addresses the future skills requirements of emerging and evolving industries in Wales, by ‘linking policy makers, employers and training providers through VR, animation, film and gamification.’
Jessica explains: “Our team of designers are experts in STEM-related industries and in developing next-generation learning programmes to support upskilling for Industry 4.0, Net Zero, and Intrapreneurship,” (the innovators within a business.)
iungo also supports foreign and domestic businesses looking to invest in a Welsh skills base. Jessica says: “As a start-up founder, it is so important to continue to ask why we exist and how we measure up to our purpose. Not only does this drive our business in the right direction but it helps differentiate us in a competitive market.
“Purpose cultivates trust with our clients and harnesses the passion and motivation of our employees. It ensures that we continue to make bold investments and create sustainable value for the audiences and communities that we serve.”
Fibre broadband and internet service Ogi champions South Wales’ rural communities and is set on providing equal connectivity across these areas.
“The working from home revolution has the potential to transform Wales – and in a good way,” says Lisa Hand, Ogi’s People Experience Director.
“As we return to the office, a blended approach is emerging; enabling us to be agile, to work whenever and, to a degree, from wherever we choose.
“This becomes problematic because as our cities have sped ahead with full fibre and 5G roll out, our rural communities have lacked such investment.
“Colleagues frozen on screen made for endless laughs during the pandemic – but these interruptions have quickly become more of an inconvenience as time goes on.
“We need, nay, we deserve better infrastructure if we’re going to compete for the best employees and opportunities.”
Ogi is currently rolling out ultrafast (FTTP) broadband – considered to be the next generation – in 38 towns and villages across South Wales as part of a £200m plan to get Wales up to speed.
Lisa says: “But this takes time. It’s not just about the infrastructure; we need to invest in the skillset too. Staff need to be equipped to work in a digital world; managing their screen time and ‘owning’ a work/life balance.
“Here at Ogi, we’ve focused on the culture – employing people with the same attitude and drive as the wider company, not being too hung up on skills – as we firmly believe these can be trained and developed. It’s a process that’s working for us, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all, but about finding the right way for your business and the people who make it.”
Drop Bear’s Joelle agrees: “Employees are looking for positions that offer flexibility and understanding; they want a higher purpose and to be appreciated. Recruits are increasingly factoring in ethics in their job searches.
“And just as the certification of standards or receipt of product awards are important to trade and consumer customers, so is evidence of independent accreditation of environmental or ethical policies and practices such as achieving B Corporation®️ or carbon neutral certification or being a Living Wage employer.
“As times continue to be tough, we know many consumers want to buy from ethical/sustainable brands but the cost of living is, understandably, forcing people to make tough choices. A broader discussion is needed regarding how businesses can help strike this difficult balance.”