How to integrate impact into your business
An interview with Alan Miller from Triodos Bank
Ahead of Impact Summit, we caught up with Alan Miller, from Triodos Bank, a B Corp supporting the event. He shares insights on what they do differently and comments on the shift of global mindsets.
Triodos Bank is a B Corp, which is not something we usually associate with the banking and finance sector. What was the thought process behind that for Triodos?
Triodos has been a B Corp since April 2015 and, as a business founded on principles of sustainability and positive social impact, it was an obvious step for us to join the community. The B Corp model has demonstrated that sustainable companies using business as a force for good, whatever industry they work in, can be successful – that’s why it’s a growing movement.
For us, as well as any other B Corp, the certification helps to distinguish credible businesses that are genuinely committed to doing good.
What’s more, an audit by an independent organisation helps us to test our sustainable mission against strict international requirements in the field of purpose-driven companies.
Could you give us an overview of what the Triodos approach is when it comes to banking?
Transparency is key. When you deposit your money in a bank or make an investment, that financial institution is using your money to fund the activity of businesses and organisations. Triodos Bank will only use the money from its savers and depositors to support entrepreneurs, businesses and sustainable organisations making a positive difference in the three key areas: nature and environment, culture and welfare, and social business. We publish all of the loans we make on the Know Where Your Money Goes section of our website so you can see that your money is being used positively.
"Consumers are waking up to the fact that they can vote with their wallets." - Alan Miller, Triodos Bank
Our financial and banking services are for savers, investors and borrowers who want to change the world for the better. Since 1980, the bank has been a global pioneer in sustainable banking and using the power of finance to invest in projects that are good for people and the planet.
We’ve got a great video on our YouTube channel, which is only a minute long, and succinctly sums up what makes Triodos Bank different:
Why should businesses integrate impact into the very first steps of their plans?
It’s really important that corporate social responsibility isn’t seen as an afterthought, or worse, a marketing exercise. Increasingly, customers and other businesses are closely examining an organisation’s principles to ensure that sustainability comes from its core values.
One simple step is to integrate principles into your mission statement. Not only does this show customers, employees and suppliers that you’re serious about impact, but it also ensures that everyone in the business is on the same page and that these values will stand the test of time. That’s a really powerful tool for a business.
Equally important is that these values are communicated, debated and referred to at every stage and decision of the business’s growth – whether that’s hiring its first employees, choosing its office, or choosing which bank to work with.
Global mindsets have shifted dramatically over the last decade - businesses everywhere are expected to have a purpose aside from profit. How do you think this will change over the next decade?
Since Blue Planet II aired, individual action against environmental damage and climate change has gained a whole new level of awareness. Consumers are waking up to the fact that they can vote with their wallets. Subsequently, I think that the range of products and business ideas from values-led organisations will only improve.
The Ethical Consumer Market report last year found that young people in particular are turning towards more sustainable options. 49% of those under 24 have avoided a product or service due to its negative environmental effect in the last year, showing a real appetite to address their own impacts.
It’s important that businesses stay ahead of the trend and continue to offer sustainable and ethical solutions. Not only does it make business sense, creating engaged employees – which is a key driver of productivity – and providing resilience, but innovative solutions and business models can start changing lives, protecting the environment and building strong communities from the ground up.
We’re thrilled to have Triodos Bank supporting Impact Summit. How does collaboration tie into your attitude towards generating change?
If you look at the Sustainable Development Goals the task ahead of us as a society is huge. We all need to take individual responsibility, but also we need to recognise that only by working together can we make change happen at scale. It means that we need to all work towards the same targets, such as reducing inequality, protecting life on land and providing affordable and clean energy for all.
"Triodos Bank is delighted to support the Impact Summit as it’s an event that brings like-minded businesses and individuals together and acts as a catalyst for change. Through sharing inspiration and ideas, we can create a movement towards a fairer society while looking after our planet." - Alan Miller
On a practical level, events like this are a valuable way of meeting people who can help you achieve a business vision, whether that’s suppliers, marketing partners or financial advisors.
Triodos Bank’s Alan Miller is speaking at our next FutureX Social on Wednesday 1 May. To find out more about the bank’s business lending visit the Triodos website.
You can also grab your ticket to Impact Summit today to meet Triodos Bank at the event, along with other great exhibitors!
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