For the past several decades, the primary question for many businesses has been: “How much money can we make?”. It is still largely assumed that the social responsibility of business is to increase profits for shareholders, as that wealth should trickle down to benefit all. While the formal economy has never been larger, the unprecedented scale of environmental degradation and inequality it has created today makes us question business-as-usual and to look for alternatives.
In fact, all around the world, people are rejecting the status-quo of self-interest. In the midst of the global pandemic, more than ever, we see purposeful work towards building an economy that delivers environmental and social wellbeing.
With the election of Joe Biden, the US appears primed to re-enter the Paris Agreement.
New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget makes health a key, driving metric in economic decision making.
The ‘rights of nature’ are being recognised by national and local laws, predominantly in the countries of the Global South: Ecuador, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Mexico, Uganda, and Colombia.
While public awareness and government policies are crucial in supporting Wellbeing Business, it is companies – both large and small – that will be the engine behind the transition. The good news is: many of them already exist, and we know how to recognise them.
Here are eight key principles that define a Wellbeing Business.
Redefining the vision. Primarily driven by the desire to create products and services that satisfy the needs of society, while staying in harmony with nature.
Ensuring transparency. Proactive in disclosing data about their environmental, social, and economic performance.
Internalising externalities. Aware of the ‘negative externalities’ or negative environmental and social impacts they produce, and strive to reduce them.
Having a long-term mindset. Make decisions that benefit the company and all important stakeholders including society and nature. This implies, for example careful consideration of resource use, and investment in employees and the communities within which companies operate.
Making people an asset. Prioritise the dignifying of work and empowering of diverse voices within the company.
Localising production. Become much more embedded in the community and ecosystems by striving to localise energy sources, financial sources, as well as distribution.
Switching to circular production. Design business processes to coexist with environmental and social systems.
Embracing diversity. Acknowledge and embrace diversity in values, ownership structure, finance as key to a resilient business environment.
On 18 December we hosted a webinar to discuss this paper. You can watch the recording here: