It’s time to RISE for growth

Abbie Walsh and Patti Alderman

There’s no denying that the time is right to grow better businesses. By working together, businesses have the power to create a healthier planet with thriving communities and a booming economy.

And according to the Edelman 2024 Trust Barometer Report businesses are the only trusted institution to build that better future. In fact, 63% of consumers trust organisations.

This is why now is the time to RISE for growth. By placing an emphasis on responsibility, inclusion, sustainability, and ethics (RISE) businesses can unlock financial value now and in the future, by making tech adoption, products, services and communications more inclusive, sustainable, and ethical.

What’s stopping us?

It’s getting harder for businesses to find profitable growth, with companies currently facing a triple threat of issues impacting their bottom line:

1.   Legislative abundance – Regulatory and policy changes related to climate, inclusion and ethical business practices are increasing, adding costs and complexity to running a successful business.

2.  Societal shifts – We’ve seen a step-change in consumer preferences with more people wanting to buy responsibly. However, many can’t afford to. There are also underserved and disengaged communities which can’t find products and services suited to them. As such, they are looking to businesses to solve the cost versus conscience issue. This isn’t limited to just a consumer point of view: employees are equally as unforgiving in their assessment of their employer’s RISE credentials.

3.  Tech disruption – The technology landscape continues to shift, with new disruptors arriving before businesses have had the chance to respond or solve recent developments first. This, combined with previous digital transformation projects that weren’t successful, means that many businesses are hesitant to take risks with innovation.

Despite these issues, businesses still have demand growth to survive, and to drive societal prosperity. The question is: how can they achieve that while facing the problems highlighted?

Tie your purpose to your commercial goals

The key to achieving sustainable growth is for companies to tie purpose to commercial values. To do this successfully, businesses need to overcome three major stumbling blocks:

1.   Silo effect – Businesses are addressing challenges, but most are approaching them in a siloed manner instead of giving the issues the wider context they deserve. For example, when thinking about net zero targets, it’s vital to address wider sustainability goals of inclusion and equity simultaneously. Similarly, DEI targets need to be set while addressing the cultural behaviours necessary to create an inclusive place to work and innovate.

2.  The X-washing trap – Many companies are falling into the trap of X-washing (green washing, purpose washing etc), effectively promising one thing to their customers or employees but then failing to deliver. Others are suffering the impact of ‘go woke, go broke’ by trying to keep up to date with the latest societal changes without having the brand authenticity to do so. Both have a negative impact on brand value and customer loyalty and demonstrate the need to think carefully before committing to promises that may be outside an organisation’s remit.

3.  Innovation wasteland – Businesses that only invest in innovation struggle to realise a return on their investment. Even when creating new products and services that are sustainable, they underperform due to the lack of consideration for audience inclusivity. This demonstrates the need to try new approaches to idea generation, supply chains and partnerships to ensure products and services are the right fit for an increasingly diverse audience.

As yesterday’s innovations transform into today’s normality, forward-thinking investors are increasingly committing to responsible business ventures. We’re already witnessing this shift with high-street banks connecting with the fintech start-up space to drive innovation solutions; and airlines innovating to create new human-centric services that address emissions reduction.

Firms that can link responsibility with value creation will seize opportunities beyond those that are immediately obvious. Ones that thrive in the space between profit and pace, humans and technology, and business and society.

How can businesses create value?

Responsibility, inclusion, sustainability, and ethics has gone from an obligation to an opportunity. Inclusion is a powerful tool in combination with sustainability while ethics holds the key to protecting your brand.

According to Backlight’s Black Pound 2022 Report there is a £4.5bn opportunity with the multi-ethnic consumer who isn’t engaged or represented fully. Similarly, looking beyond the consumer, 25% of the workforce prioritises responsible employers over other aspects of their role, presenting ample opportunities to attract the best talent.

By maximising their value in four steps, businesses can ensure they are ready to seize the ample opportunities currently available - if they know where to look:

1.       Value now - Maximise your existing products and services. Businesses must assess existing products, services, and communications to capture new segments, access untapped markets, drive revenue, and increase customer loyalty.

2.      Value next - Capture the next wave of growth. Whether a business is ready for what’s next or unsure how to move forward, it needs to identify new products and services, and find new segments and gaps in its portfolio.

3.      Value forever - The time for change is now so let’s make it matter. Change needs to be the commercial catalyst that leads to a responsible business transformation that moves beyond compliance and creates systemic change.

4.     Value for all - Empowering society. When businesses rise above industry standards, they empower people at every level and unlock the shared value from enterprise through community action.

Better growth isn’t about perfection. It’s about authentically committing to making trade-offs and beginning the journey. Building a better business demands collaboration to ensure that innovation leads to improved outcomes for everyone, not just a few.

By placing an emphasis on RISE we can establish a new status quo, where the potential value we can create is limitless.

Written by
July 8, 2024
Written by
Abbie Walsh and Patti Alderman