Reflections on ethical business

Business is the single most powerful structure we use to organise ourselves as a species on planet Earth. How we choose to design the associated systems will define our future. As individuals, the decisions we make about how to lead teams, projects and companies have far reaching consequences, often beyond what we take into consideration. The systems and structures we need for a future fit world are emerging, insurgent, innovative. Meanwhile the old, dominant, extractive, exploitative organisations resist. 

Here you can find a few of my reflections and exploration on ethical business.

Emergent examples inspiring hope

Riverford Organic is an outstanding example of what a future fit company can look like. The company serves 50,000 customers a week with whole, regenerative, organic vegetables, largely grown in the UK, delivered in reused packaging. The company is employee owned, a certified B Corp, and also campaigns for food system reform in the UK. In my eyes Riverford is a model for an impact focused business thinking holistically. 

Where human health meets planetary health

It might seem obvious that human health depends on planetary health, but we certainly don't behave that way. The planet on which all our futures exist is undergoing a mass extinction caused by humans. We are responsible for immense destruction. 

How we feed ourselves is intrinsically linked to the climate. Our approach to feeding ourselves is harming our own health in the short term and jeopardising the long term health of our planet. Regenerative farming is happening and provides hope.

Inclusivity in practice

Leading a business as a force for good means including all types of stakeholder interests in decision making. It means representation in advertising, consideration of stakeholder needs in product design, being aware of the downstream impacts, sometimes even literally. 

Giving these groups a voice represents time and energy, which means investment and additional costs. When doing business ethically in the first place means less profit, incorporating stakeholders' interests is a cost requiring courageous leadership to take on.