The principles of sustainability and doing business more responsibly, have gone mainstream.
Increasingly, companies are edging away from shareholder primacy, the long-established model of business governance, and moving towards a wider embrace of multiple stakeholder groups.
We can thank not just David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg for driving the broadening range of stakeholders considered in business decision-making today, but also millions of customers and employees globally who expect more from the companies they engage with.
But not everybody’s in it for the right reasons, and both consumers and employees can recognise ‘purpose washing’ – when organisations seek to exploit the benefits of a sustainable brand without practising what they preach – far easier than many business executives realise.
In our view, authentic local action is the key to sustainable business and earning trust among environmentally and socially conscious customers.
What does that mean exactly?
Trust through authenticity
Businesses crave a sense of trust in their brand more than anything else. Indeed, 96 per cent of UK consumers in a YouGov and Neighbourly survey were more likely to buy from a company they trust. Yet trust needs to be built authentically– and that can only be achieved through action and evidence.
When organisations demonstrate their desire to be a sustainable business authentically, they soon find they can establish and nurture a deeper relationship with key stakeholders, whether that be their investors, their customer base, their workforce or their local community.
Trust through local action
The local community is an important stakeholder because local action is closely linked to trust in a business. Some 84 per cent of YouGov and Neighbourly's survey respondents were more likely to trust organisations that support local causes and charities.
People resonate with what's closest to them, which includes their local neighbourhood. If an authentic brand is one whose sustainability promise is backed by genuine action, then localisation is a key ingredient to engaging and resonating with stakeholders in a more effective human way.
A force for change
When local action is authentic, the result is a powerful acceleration of not just achieving an organisation’s sustainability goals but also, in light of the growing importance of delivering wider stakeholder value, its core business objectives.
Taking local action
Read more about the businesses already taking local action: