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Economy

Future sustainability leaders: Ruth Shave

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What will business look like in the future and who are our future leaders?

We’re over half way through our series speaking with a group of young people who are making waves in sustainability. All 12 are scholars on Forum for the Future’s renowned master’s course in leadership for sustainable development.

Ruth Shave has had placements at an NGO, a trade association, a leading multinational business and a parliamentary body. Here, she tells us about some of the key lessons she has learnt.

Tell us about your experience on the Forum for the Future master’s course. What have your placements involved?

I’ve been on a fantastic range of placements at Friends of the Earth, Unilever, the National Audit Office and UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF). Going into these organisations has shown me how different cultures can be, each with their own drivers and characteristics.

Most of my work has been weighted towards communicating messages about sustainability in different ways – to employees, local action groups and wider society.

I’ve seen how the National Audit Office ‘parent’ the government through asking the right questions, while Unilever engages with emotions to get their message across. How UKSIF joins together a variety of stakeholders to create a clear message and Friends of the Earth strategically channels the views of socially and environmentally engaged citizens to the ears of decision makers.

Speaking the same language is important if you want to share messages about sustainability effectively. In energy and finance, we need more creativity to do this well.

As a recent graduate, the best aspects of placements have been firstly the people I’ve been privileged to work with and learn from, and secondly, the opportunity to flesh out theory through watching and doing.

In terms of the year as a whole, a great strength of this master’s is the emphasis on collaborative learning between those on the course. We work together while on placement as well as during the weeks of lectures. An unusually high level of trust operates in the group and it is a gift to have such talented people around you who can tell you what you need to improve on and what you’re good at.

Where does your interest in sustainability come from?

Sustainability for me is about being part of the world in a way that acknowledges interdependence and spirituality. It’s an equilibrium based on relationships that exist between the physical environment, plants, animals (unfortunately mostly dead rodents or cats in a city like London), and people.

I think working in the area of sustainability is about taking a ‘both and’ approach, valuing diversity and allowing disparate ideas to influence each other.

As a music student, I learned a lot about the value of art in culture, broadening my view of what sustainability is. Travelling can put you in uncomfortable situations that make you realise how fortunate (and small) you are, whether in the face of Icelandic glaciers or waste mountains elusively visible through Delhi smog. I would think my experience has been one fairly typical of many millennials and I’m in a fortunate position to be doing what I am at the moment.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your course?

Being taught by Sara Parkin has been one of the highlights of this year. Her book, The Positive Deviant, is full of constructive and practical insights. To paraphrase some of the advice she has shared: build on strengths (yours and others); have integrity; aim for good enough.

What’s most important business lesson you’ve learnt?

The values of a business are important – the embodied values of everyone involved more than the values written down in statute or on a website. Values are important because they impact the output of an organisation and because they are difficult to change.

Brands such as Interface, Triodos and Patagonia illustrate just what can happen when there’s are integrated approach to valuing people, profit and resources. Values are different from but connected to the personality of an organisation so there is plenty of variety ahead for the business landscape.

Paul Polman is one CEO who has sought to embed sustainable values during his time at Unilever: “As a company, we have a long history of doing the right thing. When William Lever started the company, in the 19th century, Britain had big hygiene problems. So he invented bar soap—not to make more money, but because in Victorian England one out of two babies didn’t make it past year one. That established the company’s values, and we need to build on them.”

What one idea do you think could change the world for the better?

Oh wow, what a question – if everyone could put their one good idea into practice, the world would definitely change for the better! Mine would be creating the kind of environment the sustainable finance industry can get out of its cocoon and transform the way investments are made.

What do you see of the future in terms of sustainability, business and the environment?

I think there will be more and more cross-sector collaboration enhanced by communication technology. I hope that the tension between risk and innovation will be managed better in organisations and system-wide, so that progress can speed up tackling society’s multifaceted challenges.

Where will you be in 10 years’ time? 

Hopefully doing something challenging and exciting in the sustainability/arts crossover.

Further reading:

Future sustainability leaders: Angela Green

Future sustainability leaders: Andrew Adam

Future sustainability leaders: Zoe Draisey

Future sustainability leaders: Rebecca Trevalyan

Future sustainability leaders: Sam Gillick

Future sustainability leaders: Patrick Elf

Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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