There is no doubt that today’s – and most certainly tomorrow’s – consumers are more engaged in needing to understand the impact that a company or brand’s behaviours and actions have on all facets of the planet as a whole and on the general well being of the inhabitants of the planet – be they human or animal. Sustainability, environment, well-being, equality and lifestyle choices all have crucial roles to play not only in the protection of the planet but also in how it advances globally at a social level.
Each industry or product category has fantastic examples of businesses and individuals who have been brilliant in promoting so many good causes and yet there remains too many that are not doing enough. There are even more that are not talking about their action or goals to a wide enough audience.
I would be the first to put my hand up and say that I have not done nearly enough either in business or on a personal level in respect of sustainability and the environment – always thinking that others will sort it out and wondering what real difference could I make? Previous businesses I’ve worked in did not see it as a focal point of their values, and whilst I may have mentioned it or thought it would be good to be more proactive, I did not push the case.
I find myself now working in a new product category (beauty and cosmetics), and separately on a new project (Togetherband) that together have helped shaped my views further on what is needed from business and brands worldwide to ensure that awareness leads to real action by the largest amount of businesses and individuals as possible.
Firstly, I was lucky enough to reconnect with Bottletop (whose bags I bought many years previously for a luggage and handbag business) and they told me about an incredible project they recently embarked upon which was in partnership with the United Nations and the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The Global Goals rang a small bell – I was sure I had heard of them but had no idea of the scale of the project or what they set out to achieve. I was eager to find out more. 193 world leaders signed up to an agreed 17 goals that would help both save and advance the planet by 2030 – by engaging 1 billion people. Goals that people would need to fight for in order to achieve aims that include ending extreme poverty, inequality and climate change. A set of Goals that each and every business and organisation can use as a focal point to affect change in the best way that they can – and just as importantly, or perhaps, more importantly, to engage with their employees, customers and partners in talking about those Goals and their actions.
The Togetherband concept has a product (bracelet) of engagement at its core, that will help create a viral impact of social media sharing as well as creating further streams of communication through art, music, and documentary films launched at key cultural global events. One of the main strands of success will be partnering with businesses and brands that will engage with each and every one of their stakeholders in the most public way possible – and I will do my best to make sure that happens.
Where does the beauty and cosmetics business come into this? Well, on starting to work in this industry, I was looking at the message that the company I am working with and others were sending in respect of sustainability, veganism, etc – and also looking at the beauty industry as a whole – some brands had been mentioned in research regarding the Global Goals. In a few instances, what came to light was that brands are working with the Global Goals in looking to support as many of the Goals as possible, but to find that information would mean trawling through investor brochures, or well-hidden butwell-meaningg documents on sustainability and the environment. My issue was (and is) that wouldn’t it be better if the Global Goals were on the front page of a consumer website rather than part of an investors’ website? One of the biggest contributions a brand or business can make is to publicise the Goals and what they are doing to help support them – however authentic that support is (are they doing it to look good or because they really care?), the publicity and discussion can only be good in concentrating minds. Nobody will change their habits (including me) overnight, but we will all start to think more and naturally become more careful and selective in our consumption habits when we see repeated messages around a global set of Goals. What if the industry as a whole came together to talk about the Goals as an industry – how powerful would that be?
The Global Goals creates an incredibly powerful and all-encompassing visual and linguistic menu that each business can refer back to no matter how they are supporting the Goals. The first step is to identify which Goals the business is already targeting and then which others they want to work on. Bottletop were able to identify an impressive 12 out of 17 Goals. Once identified, the focus should be on promoting as widely and as visibly as possible the targets that have been set to meet those Goals, and then provide ongoing commentary as to progress – i.e. how much more sustainable packaging has become, or how carbon footprints have been reduced – what other partnerships or support the organisation is given to help combat inequality , poverty or more.
Togetherband provides a great physical product to help engage each other in discussions around the Goals – each month a Goal will be promoted alongside the same colour bracelets that combine with the goal – but the project should do a lot more – starting with ensuring that engagement via the bracelets, but also through events, discussions, and platforms are front of mind for all stakeholders and also by creating partnerships amongst business and organisations that may never usually partner. This will be about connecting the dots and creating viral impact.
The Global Goals have so far been well discussed amongst the elite – at big corp and government level, but it is time to really open up the discussion to a much larger audience – to not only talk with the already engaged, but those, like me who were simply not engaged enough or even at all.
I will be looking to do my bit and reach out to as many brands and businesses as possible (feel free to take the first step and reach out to me rather than wait for the call!), but it is in all our hands to ensure that the Global Goals become a common language of engagement from which we can all do what we feel is right in the context of our business and personal life.
Do let me know about businesses or organisations that are doing great things – either publicly or in secret, and likewise I will update on what I find out as part of this journey – and of course, if you want to find out more about partnerships at Togetherband…