Oxfordshire companies lead the way with Better Business Why and how the way you do business can improve your business

Growing evidence shows that companies placing “purpose” at the heart of what they do can lead to stronger and more profitable business.

Building upon articles in previous issues of B4, we take a closer look at what that means and more ways in which some B4 members are adapting to this new environment placing them in prime positions as employers of choice, preferred suppliers and attractive to investors.

Written by: Grant Hayward

The evidence

A recent Harvard Business Review Executive survey suggested: “Organisations that embody Purpose see significant, measurable results”: Evidence set out in that report and Building The Case for A Connected Britain from Business In The Community suggests:

• Employees are 1.4x more engaged, 3x more likely to stay with the organisation and most young people want to join a purposeful business
• Customers – 89% believe they will get the highest quality products/services from such companies and are prepared to pay more for sustainable goods with 72% recommending them.
• Performance – Purpose is considered a driver for innovation and transformation with an increasing number of examples of higher returns for shareholders. This is reinforced by evidence that investors are also seeking ways for their money to have social and environmental impact as well as a return on investment.

Better Business

New B4 member, Seacourt, has created a company that they, collectively; the team at Seacourt, its clients, suppliers and all stakeholders are proud of and truly believe in. They are all passionate about what they do, believe in their journey and have a shared ethos, working to the Triple Bottom Line of Environment, Society and Profit, something they also believe is the future and how all businesses need to work. They deliver this as Planet Positive Printing™.

Keen to share the benefits of operating in this way, Seacourt took a leading role to establish “Better Business”, designed and funded to help Oxfordshire businesses become environmentally sustainable. It addresses the challenge faced by many SME’s that recognise sustainability has strong commercial advantages but need some simple action steps.

Commenting on this collaborative project with Oxfutures, Low Carbon Hub, Oxford City Council, the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Cherwell District Council and Bioregional, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Managing Director of Seacourt, Gareth Dinnage explained “Better Business offers a roadmap that enables firms to take important steps towards sustainability, from addressing energy use and printed communications to financial investments, recycling and transportation”.

A growing movement

More and more businesses understand the benefits, opportunities and necessity to explore and develop their purpose. I was delighted to hear Dominic Hare, Chief Exec of Blenheim speaking earlier this year at a B4 event, about the shift it has made placing Purpose at the heart of the organisation. He went on to explain that not only was it the right thing to do, but it was also good for business, reiterating that the organisation is very much a business.

Blenheim has a very clear published purpose “to be the lifeblood of the local economy, to enhance the lives of the people of Oxfordshire, to share this magnificent Palace and to conserve and protect it for future generations”. Many may not view it as a typical business, but some of the ways in which it is delivering on that purpose can inspire other businesses to develop new and creative ways to satisfy their own stakeholders.

A good example is the support it has extended to other local, purposeful businesses such as The Wonky Food Co., embracing the ethical food producer into its supply chain, also providing mentoring support to the management team there. Director of Wonky, Ashley Cavers explained “we started our journey within walking distance of the palace, so we are delighted it is among our first customers. People come from all over the world visit Blenheim, so being in their shop is a great way to spread the word about our products and of our wider efforts to help tackle the global problem of food waste.”

Ashley and I were also among a small group of local businesses and social enterprises that the management team at Blenheim took as guests to the recent Meaning Conference in Brighton as yet another way of supporting the local economy to hear bold ideas about how to be a better business. Those invited have supplier relationships with Blenheim, or are working with them on opening up job opportunities for disadvantaged people.

Blenheim’s Operations Director Heather Carter says: “Going to the conference with local like-minded people was a great way to connect and build our relationships whilst learning new things, meeting some interesting people and being inspired to think differently.”

All of this forms part of Blenheim’s 10 year, 10 point plan and it is working with Oxford Brookes Business School to measure and monitor their performance and also, admirably, publish progress transparently. Blenheim is also collaborating with other like-minded local businesses as a member of Reciprocate, working together to improve the lives of people in Oxfordshire, with the help of the Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

B4 Values

The B4 Network continues to grow and is becoming a Go To community for businesses operating, or keen to evolve, in this way. It’s therefore exciting to be involved in helping develop B4 Values with members who understand that success isn’t achieved by a ‘quick win’ or with a hard-sell approach. The B4 community encourages authentic ethos, collaboration and reciprocation and B4 Values will underline the importance of trust, integrity and honesty to the B4 community. The ways in which members trade, look after their workforce, the environment and local communities are fundamental to their success as well as all stakeholders.

So, if you would like to share your experiences of working in ways like this or developing your business in this direction, or would just like to connect, please contact me at Grant Hayward, Collaborent Ltd.

For more information visit:

Better Business
Wonky Food Co

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