What does being Net Positive mean and why should you care?

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What is Net Positive Impact and why should you care?

 

The last two years have changed the world’s expectations of how we do business; forever.

It’s no longer enough to ‘be a successful business’ – businesses now have to publicly commit to mean good, be good and do good, taking into consideration their impact, both big and small. 

With the increased focus on greenwashing and an increasingly savvy customer demographic, businesses also have to demonstrate how and where they are making an impact. It’s all about walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

So, what is Net Positive Impact in Business?

Having a Net Positive Impact is a transformed way of doing business on this new and brightly lit global stage.

A Net Positive Impact business gives back more  to society, the environment and the economy than it takes out. 

Sounds great, huh? That’s because it is! It’s awesome, and The Joyful’s purpose is to grow a million Net Positive businesses within our lifetime.  

Imagine that – all of us contributing simultaneously to the global economy and the UN’s sustainable development goals in our own little way… lots and lots of small businesses, doing lots and lots of good all over the world. 

Individually, we are a drop, but together we’re an ocean and can have a colossal impact. 

Your Net Positive journey starts by looking holistically at every element of your business operations: supply chain, employee wellbeing, diversity, accessibility, carbon emissions and your giving back policies. Every interaction counts, however small.  Add together every impact, whether positive or negative, and you get the grand sum of your impact. This is what we mean by Net Positive Impact.

We talk about Net Positive Impact rather than simply referring to impact because it tells a more holistic story. There can be no greenwashing when you look truthfully at an organisation’s net impact, and it emphasises the importance of every element of business practice equally. 

For example, a business may be having a tremendously positive impact in the way it treats its customers, making every one of them feel valued, but is dastardly to its employees, has no tangible sustainability policy and an extremely questionable supply chain. Are they having a positive impact through their business? We don’t think so.

Driven by its greater business purpose, a business committed to making a Net Positive Impact puts stakeholders alongside shareholders and is focused on leaving a positive legacy that prioritises people and the planet.

Why is it important for businesses to have a Net Positive Impact?

As if leaving the planet in a better place than you found isn’t motivation enough, there’s an even greater commercial benefit from being a Net Positive business.

Indeed, moving to a Net Positive Impact business model gives you a phenomenal economic opportunity. 

In its two year study, Better Business, Better World (2017), the Business and Sustainable Development Commission found that meeting the UN’s sustainable development goals – 17  areas of focus encompassing everything from eliminating world hunger to providing livelihoods and tackling climate change – could unlock trillions in value and create hundreds of millions of jobs this decade. 

Trillions? That’s an impressive number, but how does the maths work?  

There is an overwhelming and growing body of evidence that demonstrates the improved performance of Net Positive and purpose-led businesses, both culturally and financially.

Net Positive businesses enjoy improved performance due to the holy trinity of what we at the Joyful call: Focus, Faith and Fame (because we just love alliteration). 

 

Focus

A Net Positive business is laser focused in its ambition and purpose and out performs other businesses.

Reason being, with focus on the bigger picture comes increased efficiency of operations, better identification and engagement with audiences and refinement of products and services.

Having a Net Positive plan in place motivates progress, creates solutions where there were once challenges, and brings your team along for the ride.

For example:

  • The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 by DDI World found that purposeful companies outperformed the rest of the market by 42% (DDI World 2018)
  • Certified B Corps in the UK are growing 28 times faster than the national economic growth of 0.5%. Leading B Corp FMCG brands grew on average 21% in 2017, compared to a national average of 3% across their respective sectors. (B Corp 2018) 

 

Faith

There is commercial evidence to support the claim that customers are looking to have their faith restored in business and want the companies they engage with and buy from to define and articulate what they stand for and why. 

Professor Virginia Harper Ho, a researcher at the University of Kansas, says many millennials are demanding companies be more socially responsible.

The fact that millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest living adult demographic in 2019, with a collective estimated spending power of  $1.4 trillion in 2020, should give any business a reason to want to engage with their customers and foster faith and loyalty from them.

The 2019 research report “Greenwashing effect, attitudes, and beliefs in green consumption” detailed how inclined consumers are to stop buying your products if you are found guilty of greenwashing; spoiler alert, it’s ‘very inclined’!

A few more killer stats for you:

  • 64% of global consumers find brands that actively communicate their purpose more attractive. 62% want companies to take a stand on issues they are passionate about, and 52% say they are more attracted to buy from certain brands over others if these brands stand for something bigger than just the products and services it sells, which aligns with their personal values. (Accenture 2018)
  • 64% of US adults say a company’s “primary purpose” should be “making the world a better place”. (New Paradigm Strategy Group & Fortune 2019)
  • US consumers are more likely to have a positive image of (89%), trust in (86%) and be loyal (83%) to brands that lead with purpose. Nearly eight-in-10 (79%) consumers surveyed say they feel a deeper personal connection to companies with values similar to their own. And 72% say they feel it is more important than ever to buy from companies that reflect their values. (Cone/Porter Novelli 2019)

Indeed, can your business actually afford to lose trust and faith from your markets, industry and consumers?

 

Fame

Attracting and retaining the best industry talent is key to your business performance, and shouting about your intentions, actions and progress towards a net positive goal will make you more attractive to prospective employees 

According to a 2017 Korn Ferry survey of more than 1000 recruiters, candidates made final job decisions based on a company’s culture and purpose rather than the benefits package.

Indeed, Linkedin recently reported that 72% of recruiters agreed a company’s brand had a significant impact on their hiring. Accurate and meaningful representation of your brand values, how they relate to an employee’s bigger picture role within your business and the value that employees can get from working for you, serves as a beacon attracting like minded candidates and dissuading those with different values and work ethics. 

As if this wasn’t compelling enough, 27% of managers in British companies would likely accept a salary cut to work for a company that has a clear purpose beyond profit. 32% would actually consider leaving their job if a greater purpose was unclear, while more than half (53%) would if their company’s values and purpose didn’t align with their own. (Danone/YouGov 2018).

In summary, an impactful, purpose-driven business has ambitious commercial targets and works to grow its brand awareness, deliver strong financial performance and attract the brightest talent. 

 

Committing to being Net Positive is actually the smartest commercial move a business can make.

Furthermore, with increased commercial performance comes business growth and with business growth comes an even greater opportunity to make a positive impact on your people and the planet.

And the economy cannot thrive unless the planet and its people are thriving…

Net Positive Impacts ripple out from businesses, touching everything they connect with, and encouraging and inspiring more positive impacts, which in turn have an ever-increasing positive net impact on the world. 

Having a Net Positive Impact is not only the right thing to do, it’s the only commercially and socially viable way to do business today.

So, the one question for you and your leadership team is not ‘do you want to be a Net Positive business?’ it’s ‘when do you start?’: 

And we can help you get started.

​In just five minutes, The Joyful Impact Wheel exercise will highlight the barriers to impact across your business, and empower you with the knowledge to grow your business joyfully and impactfully.

Our Impact Wheel will uncover where your business can make a bigger, more positive impact on your people, your customers and the planet so you can build a profitable business with a lasting legacy.

Let’s make the world a better place because your business is in it.

Lets change the world together.

Lucy Freeborn

Lucy Freeborn

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