The importance of taking small steps
7 April 2021 at 7:30 am
Beyond Bank sits down with Patagonia’s Vincent Stanley and Dane O’Shanassy to talk about the journey they are on to become a better business.
Is it possible to run a good business and do business for good at the same time? As a purpose-driven organisation, Beyond Bank strives to create and return value and through this we change lives. We do this in a way that positively impacts our customers, staff, communities and the environment. But we are on a journey, and as we found out this week from Patagonia’s Vincent Stanley and Dane O’Shanassy, taking the small steps is important.
In 2015, we were Australia’s first bank to become a B Corp. Other financial institutions have since followed in our path, and that can only be a good thing. As a B Corp, we strive towards the highest social and environmental performance standards, accountability and transparency.
But when faced with the prospect of more certification, it can be easy to wonder whether your organisation’s actions can make a difference. It can be overwhelming thinking about where to start, but according to O’Shanassy, what is essential is that we do start.
The truth is that small steps make a collective impact, and it’s important to talk about good business practices.
“One action can generate 500 similar actions, and that can make a difference,” O’Shanassy says.
So when considering how we can help to eliminate modern slavery in Beyond Bank’s supply chain, not only do we want to make sure that we aren’t benefitting from products or services that rely upon these practices, but we also talk to our suppliers about their suppliers too. Collectively we have a much more significant impact than what we could do on our own.
How do you decide to do better business and create a positive impact? Stanley believes that the secret ingredients for making an authentic change are transparency and honesty.
“We’ve all been pretenders at some stage,” he says, talking about those businesses that don’t quite add up to what they are saying.
But that’s okay too. There are many types of organisations at different stages of their journey.
Currently, we are using best practice benchmarking from the B Corp impact assessment standards to help us create a better business. It has enabled us to question our purpose and the impact of our products and services. It has also given us very practical ideas for what “better” could look like for our stakeholder groups.
Stanley says that you should demonstrate where you are on your journey to create trust with people. And in a spin-off, being genuine also means that you don’t need to be so risk-averse because you embrace the truth of what you are doing, not just the aspiration.
In addition to being aspirational and doing better business, it is also important to attract staff who share your values. The Patagonia experience has shown that people will work well when they are engaged in activities that are close to their heart. It’s why they support their staff to connect with environmental groups.
It’s a philosophy we also embrace at Beyond Bank, where we are in a unique position to change our customers’ lives. We actively encourage and support our staff to volunteer with organisations that need our help. Plus, we developed our foundation to give back to the community and focus on some of the most significant challenges facing society.
Stanley emphasises that it is essential to learn about your processes and accept the responsibility for the social and environmental context they create. Then start your journey, one step at a time.
“Treat your customers as friends and equals, “ he says. “Tell them about what you are trying to do, and you will find that they will come along with you.”
To hear the full conversation with Stanley and O’Shanassy visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIEm2ik3sKo
And if you’re wondering how to start your journey, assess your social and environmental impact for free, using the B Impact Assessment tool.