Through the connections made at B4, our business networking community, we are seeing more and more examples of businesses understanding that they can’t operate as they once did. With an increasingly demanding and, in many cases, disloyal customer base, businesses are gradually realising that customer service is only part of the skills they need to satisfy AND retain their customers.
We‘ve been heavily influenced in our thinking by advocates of businesses discovering their purpose. Individuals like Grant Hayward of Collaborent who have been banging this particular drum for years and who are finally seeing the message hitting home.
“At the heart of my work is helping and encouraging companies to gain a better understanding of the power of Business as a Force for Good. So for me it’s inspiring to see the transformation taking place across the county and the tremendous work B4 is doing to highlight and encourage this too. BIO2020 will be the perfect place to showcase ways in which we can CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK and are doing so!”
One of Oxfordshire’s shining lights in more ways than one is Blenheim Palace. Under the leadership of CEO Dominic Hare, the team at Blenheim have transformed the way Blenheim engages with the local business and residential community, and this is all part of a conscious effort by Blenheim to demonstrate real purpose as a responsible business, as Dominic explains.
“Being a responsible business is important for us because this is OUR place. Often when we’re striking a positive note we’ll say things like ‘we’re the biggest employer in the area’, ‘our visitors spend nearly £50 million every year OUTSIDE of our gates’, or that ‘we are the biggest property owner’ or ‘housebuilder in the area’.
“But hear that from a different angle. We need many, many employees coming from this area to work for us, otherwise we simply cannot run our business. We need shops, cafés, hotels and all of the other businesses in the area that support OUR visitors coming to the area and that’s where the money gets spent outside of our gates. As the biggest housebuilder we need people to want to come and live in the community and we need people that want to rent from us.
“We are completely nothing without them and we are nothing without this great area that we care for being in great shape and cared for by us. So we are completely dependent on the world around us and when you look at it through that lens you quite clearly have to take care of your neighbours and the world around you…it won’t look after itself.
“But there’s a broader point too which I think applies to any business. That is that consumers, customers and neighbours are starting to judge businesses by the way they act and by the way they look after the local area and by the way they solve local problems. And they are starting to judge not via government putting in regulations but by their own actions and by their own spend.
“Increasingly, consumers, customers and neighbours DEMAND that we look after OUR place, OUR people and act like a responsible business. And if we don’t, they simply walk away and they transact with someone else.”
This is why BIO2020 is fundamental for any business to understand that this world we live in is changing. The next generation demand that employers understand the impact they have on the environment and do what they can to limit any negative impact their business processes might have. Businesses are having to be more inclusive and diverse in their recruitment policies.
Blenheim is a great example of a business stimulating its local economy by sourcing suppliers within a local radius, actively stimulating their business so it helps breathe more life into Blenheim. As Dominic explained at a recent Inclusive Economy seminar run by Oxford City Council, a landed estate such as Blenheim MUST stimulate the economy around it in as many ways as it reasonably can, as without a buoyant local economy, it will soon fail to function.
BIO2020 isn’t going to be your typical business conference. We want you to walk away from the event feeling inspired and energised by the connections you have made and the support you have given to others who might be speaking or exhibiting for the first time. Above all we want you to think differently about how you do business so that is impacts positively on your employees, customers, suppliers, the local community and, ultimately, the planet.
We want BIO2020’s success to be measured by more than just new business leads. BIO2020 might be your first public talk; or it might be the first time you’ve done something special with your exhibition stand rather than just put up a pull up banner; consider FUNdraising during BIO2020 for a great cause; or just come along and support the fantastic speakers and exhibitors and make some great connections. With our new NEXUS programme, there will be lots of charities, social enterprises and small businesses speaking and exhibiting at BIO for the first time…let’s give them all the support they need to make the most out this opportunity provided to them by their supporters.
We hope that BIO2020 is one of your first steps to making your business think, act and behave differently because one thing’s very clear…. we all have to change the way we think.