The role of the government is to be reactive; they follow what the crowd wants and (ideally) provide a system of governance to effect an orderly society that promotes the appropriate and expected living standards of it’s constituents.
However, the common reality seems to be a society that waits (and complains) about what the current government is either doing or not doing to their satisfaction. We give way too much power over to a system that cannot think ahead of it’s time nor does the body, of itself, promote a higher form of living until we demand it.
According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), small business (defined as earning < $2M turnover or less than 20 employees) accounts for 33% of Australia’s GDP and employ over 40% of the workforce. Outside of using the statistics for the betterment of services provided for small business, it also means that small business, as a consolidated force, can create change in the market and society in general, however, the one issue that I have observed as lacking, especially in the Australian market, is a lack of a Cohesive Values System.
The Portland Food Truck Story
I lived in Portland, OR during the Food Truck boom. This is how it began - a bunch of artists, mostly from the Midwest of the US, looking to be around like-minded people hear about this golden city called Portland, where artists congregate to and support each other in their respective ventures. Only problem was it was hard to find a job and pay rent on time. And so the cafes were filled with the moody hipsters doodling and drinking copious amounts of coffee whilst sharing rooms and finding it difficult to sell the art they wanted to become famous for.
And in their creative genius one Airstream after another got converted to selling food, in their own way, with their own signature creative style with, most importantly in this story, the relaxed support of the local council. Portland city council did little to create obstacles to the small food truck villages popping up on vacant unused land. An industry was formed, unemployment went down, and Portland became the land of self-sufficient opportunity where you could make art and eat.
When observing what made this venture a success story, there was a similar experience with the food truck spaces you visited - riding your bike there was highly regarded, organic produce or well considered ingredients met customer expectations, communal eating under makeshift tarps were part of the experience, it was fun, and the food was well priced to feed their creative compatriots.
A strong values system so that customers had a sense of experience when they were buying food PLUS the group mentality of providing stronger support that a single business alone, started a movement. And over time the success of some of these Food Trucks turned into established bricks and mortar restaurants.
Why buy from a B Corporation?
B Lab is a non profit that provides B Corp certification and oversees the administration of complying with their values system legally. Board of directors need to learn how to balance profit with…well…being an upstanding corporate role model of best practise. It formalises and provides a measurement system for companies trying to be the change and creating recognition for the regular consumer that when they purchase from a B Corporation their dollars are supporting the change they may also want to see in the world.
You can become a conscious consumer to support companies that are trying to uplift humanity. We hear many consumers, as well as small business owners, feel a sense of vulnerability in the market. They feel that the large Goliaths of our society deem their fate but history has shown enough times, and importantly in the student movement of climate change, that we can decide what values system we will live by.
The question becomes your priority of spending, whether as a regular consumer or purchasing for your business, are you looking for the cheapest option or the one with value? I have often heard the complaint about the cost of food for home consumption and very rarely the cost of wine in a bar on a Friday night.
And then the confusion that comes with believing that the only way to make change is on election day.
You are amongst good company
Napoleon Hill made popular the common idea of mastermind groups - the coming together of individuals that, through mutual support, assisted not only their own business but the success of others. You succeeded because others did. The yogic version is called a Sangha which is the association/assembly of people praising God.
Ideas propel further in a team.
They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s an average and it doesn’t have to be five - the point of the message is that we are influenced by our environment to form our belief systems, depending on how strong your belief systems are to begin with.
You can include the businesses you have a relationship with as part of this formula - a consumer shareholder of sorts. People read the nutritional information on the back of a food packet but rarely look into the organisational practises of the organisations they give their money to. I do believe it is an important marketing angle, these days, to let consumers know how you conduct business. Creative Instagramers are showing you how the painting is done, there should be no difference with how an accounting office operates.
The new way lives behind the scenes. Breathe Architecture wanted to offer affordable housing to the inner city Melbourne market and pass on the cost savings to the consumer. One way they did that is full financial transparency and taking away what wasn’t necessary such as the display office with it’s glitz and glamour of the more profit driven developers as well as capping out for the impact investors at 15%.
Charity: Water is an excellent example of a charity with financial transparency. I saw Scott Harrison speak at a conference in the States about why he started this charity and the great turnaround his life took when he decided to focus on helping others. His story is inspiring and the culture of his organisation reflects his great love of humanity. He re-branded the face of charities bringing integrity back to the art of philanthropy.
As consumers we are finally asking for more information. Some of these great companies do well on their own but as a collective under the governance of a third party, it simply condenses their efforts across a wider scale. And the consumer gets to participate in supporting a global movement.
The BCORP Declaration Of Interdependence
We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.
This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation - the B Corporation -
Which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:
That we must be the change we seek in the world.
That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
For Your Information - here is the Australian sector of B Coporation companies. It’s small but growing. \
And here is the free Impact Assessment tool to find out where you stand on their scale.