For businesses to survive they must stand for something other than profit – according to Kelly Evans from Social Change. Charlotte Reid spoke to her to find out how she is convincing companies to change their behaviour for good.
Our previous Green Dragons have wanted to help the environment by debunking climate change myths or investing their money ethically, but Kelly Evans wants companies to realise the power for a brand in acting in a socially responsible way.
Evans runs Social Change, a marketing research, communications and design agency that specialises in behaviour change. This means that Social Change works to improve people’s behaviour and to put social responsibility and sustainability at the heart of a business.
Social Change has worked with the NHS and Government departments, as well as others. Some of the campaigns she has been involved in include Change4Life, how to get more people recycling and how to get more people buying sustainable products.
Evans explains that the job involves “using marketing tools and techniques for a social good by selling products and services that will have a positive impact on the environment or people and society”.
She says that before companies start telling their customers how to behave, they have to change their own behaviour first, “Businesses have to change their own behaviour internally and ensure sustainable practice throughout their entire value chain from how they make products to how they treat the people they employ.
“If they really want to convince the public that they are a company worth having a relationship with, businesses must start building a brand that stands for more than just profit to convince customers that you really are a good company.”
Blue & Green Tomorrow has written about people’s concerns about investing ethically because it will not perform as well as traditional funds. The same can apply to some businesses when they have to think about more than profit.
Evans sees that businesses need to get used to the idea that more than just profit will be beneficial.
“It is my view that you can be a profitable company and be socially responsible”, she says.
“They do go together. You can in fact have genuine competitive advantage over other businesses by becoming a socially responsible company and we work with companies to achieve this.
“So they stand for something bigger and they are actually contributing to the wider society and helping the planet.”
Make a difference
There was one moment when Evans was 18-years-old that made her realise she wanted to make a difference. She spent three months in New York documenting the experiences and lives of young people who were clinically obese.
Evans says, “This experience had a real profound impact on my life and the direction that I wanted to take and I decided that I wanted to be able to do something that helped people”. As she was working in journalism and marketing she wanted to see if those skills could make a difference.
“So that’s when I became very much involved in social marketing. I worked with the NHS, and with charities and Government departments to see how we could try and help people to change their behaviour, change their views or lives around certain issues.”
However, Evans is aware of how hard it is to convince companies of the merits of being a sustainable company as well as a successful business. But she is optimistic.
“If you asked me now if people are choosing a brand today based on its values or its contribution to the society and the planet I would probably say no. But if you asked me that again tomorrow I might say yes because things are changing.
“There are still lots of businesses and companies out there who can’t see the return on investment, at the moment, but there are many out there who can see the benefits. And I think the ones that can and do will be the businesses who are going to have the competitive advantage in the future.”
One problem that Evans identifies is the tough economic climate.
“It’s a recession where price and profit are the things that are driving companies to survive”, she says.
“It is very hard.”
But that shouldn’t stop companies acting.
“I think the best thing to do right now is to start thinking about sustainability as the next step in their evolution as a company.”
But how long will it take before companies change their behaviour? “How long is a piece of string?” she says. “In some companies change will only occur following a crisis or when competitors have jumped ahead.”
However, she is positive, “Behaviour change can take decades but in some cases small wins can be had in the short term”.
She draws from her own experience as Social Change is currently working with 25 restaurants to help them make small changes to put healthier options on the menu.
Evans explains that this small act “has already had a real positive impact”. It was found that there was an increase in the number of people who chose the healthier dishes and increased profit for the participating restaurants.
So Evans explains that the restaurants “could see the benefit – they did something good but they also benefitted themselves as a company in the short term”.
Evans finishes with a challenge.
“I would challenge any company or business that thinks they can’t be sustainable and be profitable and say that you can from small businesses to large multi-nationals.
“But you’ve got to start today. Don’t leave it until tomorrow because that is another day that you could potentially be missing out on opportunities.”
You don’t have to start your own company to make a difference. There are a number of things you can do to help make tomorrow as blue and green as it was yesterday.
Talk to your financial adviser, if you have one, about ethical funds for your money. Or let us help you by filling in our online form.
Also consider when shopping to visit websites like the Ethical Superstore. Switch to Good Energy, using home grown energy instead of fossil fuels and carbon. And consider sustainable travel when you’re thinking about your next holiday.
Green Weddings Trend: Why 70% of Newlyweds Are Going Green
A couple of months ago, my best friend got married to her new husband. They are both very eco-conscious people, so they decided to have a unique twist on their wedding. They asked for the following:
- They arranged a carpool with their friends.
- They didn’t have any balloons. Instead they used umbrellas.
- They used plant materials instead of plastic confetti.
- My friend insisted her husband not purchase a diamond. In addition to being ecologically conscious, she didn’t like the idea of having a stone that was used in conflict zones.
My friends aren’t the only ones making these changes. In fact, nearly a quarter of all newlyweds are organizing green weddings.
Green Weddings Are Becoming the Norm
People are more concerned about green living than ever before. They are trying to incorporate environmental protectionist ideas into every facet of their lives, even the most intimate, such as marriage. A growing number of people are trying to have green weddings, which can make a big difference in reducing their carbon footprint.
How much of a difference can this make? Here are some statistics to bear in mind:
- The Center for Disease Control reports that about two million marriages are formed every year.
- Approximately 70% of all marriages have green elements today.
- This means that 1.4 million marriages are green.
There are a number ofreasons that green weddings are becoming more important. Here are a few.
People Are More Worried About Environmental Preservation than Ever Before
Green living in general is becoming a greater concern for most people. Even younger conservatives are breaking from their older counterparts by insisting on fighting climate change. According to a poll from Pew Research earlier this year, 75% of Americans say that they are very concerned about protecting the environment. Having green weddings is a good way to act on this concern.
One of the biggest changes people are making is using recycled products for their green weddings. This is explained by the research from Pew:
“Overall, 32% of U.S. adults say they are bothered a lot by people throwing away things that could be recycled. Roughly six-in-ten Americans (61%) who say they always try to live in ways that protect the environment say it bothers them “a lot” when others throw away things that could be recycled. Among those who are less focused on environmental protection, only a quarter say it bothers them a lot when others don’t recycle. People who are environmentally conscious are also twice as likely as others to say that seeing someone incorrectly putting trash in recycling bins bothers them a lot (42% vs. 21%).”
Indifferent Politicians Are Driving them to Take More Initiative
Many politicians in power have been very hesitant to take action on climate change. Many of them have openly stated that it is a hoax. These politicians are forcing people to do what they can in their own lives to make a difference. Making small changes, such as hosting green weddings, is a great way to improve the environment without waiting for political momentum.
Cost and Simplicity
A couple of the biggest reasons that people want to host green weddings have nothing to do with their concern for the environment. Running green weddings is simply cheaper and simpler than having a massive, traditional one. One of the biggest changes is that they are buying green engagement rings from the best brands.
Green Weddings Are the Future
Green weddings have become very popular over the past few years. They will probably account for close to 90% of all marriages by 2025. People that are planning to get married should look into the benefits and plan accordingly.
Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?
Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.
Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.
Fulfilling a Genuine Need
Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.
Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.
After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.
Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.
Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.
Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.
A Fundamental Foresight
Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.
However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.
They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.
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