Effective engagement is a driver for a more sustainable future
Last week Kate Clough, Partner and co-lead of Instinctif’s Reinventing Responsibility offering, spoke to Anashrin Pillay, Acting CEO at Risk Insights, for its Window on the Week podcast.
The conversation centered on why stakeholder engagement is crucial to driving sustainable change. The conversation started by giving the context of the disruption that we are currently living through. After an unusually stable 40 years (historically speaking) the world is being rocked by a global pandemic, a climate emergency, a digital transition and what we can hope to be a watershed moment for social equality movements.
All of these disruptors demand immediate behaviour change from us all. But navigating and leading this change is no simple task. Never before has there been a need for good advice and collaboration.
The problems we are trying to solve are complex: something that is good for the environment may have unintended negative social consequences, like unregulated lithium mining for EV batteries for example. What’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’ are not always clear. Alongside this, our old ways of doing things are engrained and widespread narratives decree that if there is a winner, there has to be a loser. No one wants to be a loser, so collectively we are tinkering around the edges, keeping in the ‘centre of the pack’, afraid to put heads above the parapet, engaging in inadvertent (or even deliberate) greenwashing, hoping for the best or leaving it to be someone else’s problem.
Communications teams need to educate themselves and become more aware of both the opportunities and the pitfalls. Really strong problem-solving, communication and engagement skills are critical to waking up the people on our planet so that we can all play our part in both our personal and professional lives. As we move further into the ‘Decade of Action’, communications teams must understand the agenda and the needs of their organisations’ stakeholders to create engagement programmes that will drive individual action in accelerating the shift towards a more sustainable, healthy and equitable future.
Because today, organisations are being called upon to build back better to create a more sustainable future. The ones that understand their context and adapt to take control of their own future stand a chance of survival. Those that turn today’s insight into foresight to create fresh strategies, and truly responsible business models, products and services are the ones that will thrive.
At Instinctif, we believe that companies need to take a systems approach that puts people, the planet and long-term value creation at the centre of their business strategy.
Why? Because, if we are going meet the 1.5 degree warming target of the Paris Agreement we need to take action now – not in 2045. For that we need the right legal frameworks, innovative and inclusive businesses that are generous with their knowledge, encouraging investors who understand the long-term gain of meaningful action – even when it means short-term cost and informed and supportive suppliers, customers and consumers.
To achieve that we need effective engagement and clear communication like never before.
Vision, values and purpose drive ambitious thinking and effective strategies. Engagement, partnership, collaboration and innovative thinking are the catalyst to execute and deliver on these strategies and new business models. We need to change our thinking towards competitors, challenge our fears of scarcity and understand where and how we can be better together creating the abundance of new markets and new ways of working. Crucially, we need to deliver one clear message to cut through the confusion and enable all our stakeholder groups to take action and create real change.
Kate and Anashrin talked about the need for organisations to seize control of the emerging multiple risks of our time by seeking to unlock the opportunities that are there for the taking. As Kate says, a compliance-led approach to ESG encourages small incremental changes. We don’t need to slowly become a little less bad; we need fresh thinking to transform businesses into forces for good.
To hear more from Kate and Anashrin, listen to the full interview here. To understand how Instinctif can help your business with driving engagement, read about our services here.