Conference to Support Growing Millennial Demand for Ethical Businesses
4 October 2017 at 8:25 am
An Ethical Enterprise conference taking place in Melbourne this month will look to support social enterprises and draw on a growing demand from millennials for ethical business models.
Organised by Moral Fairground, the conference will take place at the William Angliss Institute and bring together a range of entrepreneurs, managers of for-profit and not-for-profit businesses and social enterprises.
One of the Ethical Enterprise conference speakers is Phil Vernon, the managing director and CEO of wealth manager Australian Ethical Investment.
He told Pro Bono News that the conference was all about supporting social enterprises effectively.
“Our focus is on celebrating and supporting organisations that are actually operating their business in a purposeful way, concerned as much with environmental and social outcomes as they are on making profits,” Vernon said.
“Australian Ethical operates with a philosophy that we need to look at a different way of doing business, where a social and environmental focus works hand in hand with business philosophies.
“We want to support and encourage the impact investment community, who are operating with a profit for purpose. Fundamentally we believe this is the new business model needed.”
Vernon said this move to a new business model was driven by younger people, with research suggesting Australian children were more likely to be ethical consumers than their parents.
“All the stats definitely say that millennials care about social and environmental issues far more than the generation before them. By 2025, I think millennials will make up a third of the population, and they just simply demand and expect [ethical business practises],” he said.
“We definitely see this in our business… we’re growing at about 35 per cent per annum because people are just seeking this out.”
Vernon said he hoped to soon see ethical businesses as the norm in society, with social enterprises proving the effectiveness of operating with a social consciousness.
“We’ve probably got a little bit of a way to go before it gets there, but we’re certainly at the point where there’s a growing awareness that you can operate ethically and still perform financially,” he said.
“I don’t think we’re too far away from a situation where it almost becomes a given that if you don’t operate ethically, you will not operate sustainably.”
Meanwhile, the finalists for Moral Fairground’s 2017 Ethical Enterprise Award have been announced, with the award dinner taking place on 16 October, to coincide with the conference.
The organisers said the nominees had all undertaken “innovative work with a positive social, environmental or economic impact”, and the winner would receive a cash prize of $10,000 courtesy of sponsor Australian Ethical.
Anna McGregor is the Australian national manager for Pollinate Energy, which won the award last year.
She said the enterprise used the prize money to buy hundreds of products which helped support people in the slums of Lucknow, in northern India.
“It really filled a funding gap for us and allowed us to get those products out there. Also, because we’ve had this funding support in Lucknow, it meant we were able to be in our fifth city much quicker,” McGregor said.
“We’ve just launched into Kanpur, which is 100 kilometres down the road from where Moral Fairground helped us. So that’s incredible in itself, and essentially that means we are going to reach thousands more people a lot quicker this year.”