As October draws to a close, Autumn has come roaring in. Last night wind shredded the darkness, hurling water against the bedroom window, fat drops pounded the conservatory roof below.
While my husband snored gently at my side, I lay awake, feeling caught between two worlds – one reality the cocoon of a warm, dry bed, safe and shielded by solid walls built from the granite bones of the moor – the other? Vast black night, wild and unbiddable, a force that is literally a wake-up call. A force that encompasses small human places like my home but is undeniably more than human – it can be hard to hold the knowledge that human activities impact something as immense and ‘other’ as storm.
Where to begin with addressing climate change? It’s easy to ignore problems, easier than facing up to reality and doing something. Towards the end of her book Wilful Blindness Margaret Heffernan points out the world isn’t linear, it’s a complex system where small changes can have big impacts. We may not know where to start, but that isn’t the issue – what matters most she argues, is thatwe start.
This is something coaches know how to work with, giving me confidence to share a ‘thought for the day’ as COP26 gets underway. It’s borrowed from Heffernan – “Where do you start? You start where you are.” It’s echoed in a quote I often use from Theodore Roosevelt who famously said:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
COP26 is almost upon us, convened against the backdrop of profound challenges and upheavals of 2020 and 2021 from the pandemic, floods and wildfires to Black Lives Matter.
Like many others I’ve questioned the ability of our political, economic, and societal systems to take action. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer survey showed that rather than wait for government to impose change, a whopping 86% of respondents thought business leaders should take the lead and be as accountable to the public as they are to their board and shareholders.
With this in mind, Wise Goose has taken another step on our journey as a ‘purpose led business‘ we’ve amended our ‘Articles of Association’ to integrate wider stakeholder interests into our governance structure. These are written rules, registered with Companies House, stating how the company is run. In practice little will change, a ‘purpose led’ approach has inspired our work since the early days, but now balancing people, profit and planet is firmly at the heart of our purpose. From now on, ensuring business and operations have a material positive impact on society and the environment, is a director responsibility adding an extra layer of scrutiny.
This is about taking a stand, stating our core reason for existing is richer and wider than solely creating shareholder returns. It’s a way of ‘putting our money where our mouth is’. The world needs more businesses to see their role as creating value for society, and while we may only be a micro business, we are heeding Theodore Roosevelt’s advice, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I’m proud to have found the confidence and courage to start where we are and take a step.