In recent years, many businesses around the world have been striving to do more than simply make money, and our recent B Corp certification is the latest achievement in what has been a couple of decade’s worth of work. Our Managing Director Damien Walsh shares his thoughts on why the future of business will be purpose-led.
This year has been challenging for many reasons. You don’t need me to tell you that, I know. And if there’s one thing the pandemic has really highlighted for us as a bank, it’s that we need to think about better ways of organising our societies, looking after our planet, prioritising our people, and conducting our business.
In many ways, 2020 has been a wake-up call for society. And for me, as the Managing Director of Bank Australia, my professional priority is finding ways to use our business, capital and resources to achieve the most benefit for customers, supporting and developing staff and having a positive impact in the communities where we operate.
There’s a bit of a myth in the business world that you have to either be purpose-led or profit-led – you have to pick one and do away with the other. But that simply isn’t true – profit opens up a world of opportunities for good, meaningful work and initiatives that simply wouldn’t exist otherwise.
Bank Australia is proof of how a profitable business can have a lasting positive impact. But we’re certainly not the only ones.
Last month, we celebrated becoming a certified B Corporation, joining around 3,500 organisations across 150 industries in more than 70 countries around the world making it their mission to balance purpose with profit.
I know the idea of a ‘responsible bank’ can sound pretty farfetched for those who don’t know much about us. But it isn’t just a clever marketing ploy or an attempt to ‘greenwash’. It’s hard-coded into everything we do. So our B Corp certification is really the culmination of being driven by a strong sense of purpose for decades before our certification. My colleague, Fiona Nixon – who really led the B Corp process for us – actually wrote about our history of ‘doing good’ in more depth just recently.
Today, that commitment manifests in many different ways. We don’t loan or do business with any industries that cause harm, like fossil fuels, we’ve established a customer owned Conservation Reserve (we’re the only bank in the world to have our own conservation reserve!), we actively fund community projects and organisations working on issues our customers care about, we run on 100% renewable electricity, and we even have the Clean Energy Home Loan designed for Australians who want to buy or build energy efficient houses.
I believe there will be huge opportunities to grow after the pandemic; businesses will start to change how they provide their services and how they interact with their people. As difficult as it’s been, the pandemic has given us the chance to renew the way we operate, to create a better environment for our future. A green-led recovery is a positive way forward.
The statistics, surveys and research are all beginning to tell us the same thing: people are increasingly aligning their values with the brands and companies they do business with.
With B Corp, being part of that circle of like-minded businesses, driven by a desire to do good and make the planet a better place, they become your peers. They become a network of organisations you can reach out to, to see what you can collaborate on, and what you can achieve together. They inspire you. They challenge you. They make you wonder, “Why didn’t we think of that?!”
To retain our B Corp accreditation, we need to keep working, continually implementing new practices that will benefit our staff, our customers and the planet. Using that framework as a best practice lens helps us stay on track to improve as an organisation. We’ve been on this purpose-led journey for years, but it never stops – we just keep trying to progress and to keep evolving. It’s been a good learning tool for the Bank Australia business.
Keep working, adapting and improving to increase our positive impact. We need to be flexible in our ways of thinking, and to always be open to hearing new ideas. We need to look at the things that are impacting our customers and do whatever we can to help ease their burdens. We need to make life, in all its various forms, better for all of us.
Because we can’t continue down this road of ‘business as usual’ anymore. We need to do things differently, now, and harness the power of using business as a force for good. That’s a future I’d be proud to be a part of.
What is Clean Money?
Do you know your choice of bank can have a huge impact on the world? Learn about clean money and how your banking can do good, not harm.