Why sustainability needs to be a purpose-driven journey
Just ticking boxes on sustainability is not enough. The desire to change needs to be present, businessman Paul Hargreaves, believes.
Journalist, Philip Nordentoft
Everybody is talking about sustainability, and most businesses are taking some sort of action into becoming more sustainable. But to really make an impact, to become an asset to the planet instead of a burden, you´ll need to make it a top priority. Paul Hargreaves is the founder and Chief Executive of Cotswold Fayre Ltd, and according to him, it comes down to the desire of making a positive impact on the world.
“The companies who wants success, needs to be run by leaders, who wants to create a better world – even more than they want to generate profit.”
Paul Hargreaves believes that it is necessary to go above and beyond, in order to make a change.
“One way not to do it, is by simply doing the bare minimum. Just ticking boxes can be all right in the beginning, because you got to start somewhere, but profound change is needed.”
Spend to earn
He founded Cotswold Fayre Ltd. in 1999, a speciality & fine food wholesaler supplying nearly 2,000 retail outlets throughout the UK. Last year alone he spent 200.000 pounds on social efforts that had no relation to creating revenue.
“We are doing a lot of things to improve our society, both environmentally by reducing carbon emissions and minimizing the use of plastic, but also on a social scale for example by “mandatory” volunteer work.”
For his and his colleague’s effort, Cotswold Fayre is now accredited as one of UK´s leading B-Corps. B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits, charitable giving and high environmental standards to supply chain practices and input materials.
Making an impact is also about how you treat other people. As a leader, you have a special responsibility towards your employees. This is something Paul Hargreaves values a lot.
“We have hired homeless people, former drug addicts and prisoners. Obviously when you treat people better, they stay with you for longer. For the past year, only two out of a hundred employees have left us.”
Paul believes there are a lot more to wanting a job somewhere, than just the salary.
“I believe that most people are good and want to make a positive impact on the world. We, as managers, need to make sure our employees have the best possible options to do just that. At meetings we always talk about people and planet before numbers. We have rearranged the agenda, and what we see, is people who get excited and people who speak wholeheartedly with passion. It really puts things into perspective:”
At the moment he is pushing for a new law to be passed in parliament. This will force corporations to change their constitutions, making their DNA´s about making a better planet.
Learn from others
Changing the world is not an easy task. No matter how much you desire to make an effort, you should always make decisions based on a well-researched foundation. As a member of a peer group at EGN, you can share knowledge on sustainability, workshop and test your ideas with likeminded peers. Read more about your possibilities with EGN right here.
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