Is asking creative questions key to tackling businesses fairness challenge?

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Charles Wookey is CEO of A Blueprint for Better Business

“I recently heard that a (now former) financial services CEO was asked by his team if “fairness” should be one of their core values. “No. That’s ridiculous. Life is unfair” said the CEO.

Fairness is a recurring topic in public discourse about business. In practice, however, we are often conflicted about what fairness means in a given situation and in particular, how to translate it into the complexity of business life.”

In the July edition of Coaching Perspectives Magazine, Charles challenges readers to think about why fairness matters in business. He explores how the insights and perspective of a coaching approach can help and why it is important to think about the underlying assumptions at play within businesses about how people are motivated.

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Piffle or pertinent: Does your company have a meaningful purpose?

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Guest writer: Richard Aldwinckle, Sustainability & Purpose Adviser to Unilever, 2002-17

In July 2018 the Financial Reporting Council published a revised corporate governance code, requiring premium listed companies to “establish the company’s purpose” and ensure it aligns with values, strategy and culture. So you would think that companies without a purpose would have spent the past year busily devising and applying one to their business.

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How do purpose and sustainability fit together?

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Soulla Kyriacou, Blueprint COO 

Last November, we were invited by Ben Kellard to join twelve other experts and practitioners to explore how purpose and sustainability fit together. Today a proposed definition and one-page summary has been published at  It aims to guide leaders and contribute to the dialogue on how best to integrate thinking and practice on organisational purpose and sustainability. Our intention is to contribute to the dialogue on this pressing issue. 

At Blueprint, we believe sustainability is integral to what it means to be a purpose-led business. As we express in our 5 Principles of a Purpose Led Business – being a Guardian for Future Generations is central to being a purpose-led business. We have found that too often, the work carried out on sustainability, CSR, or focused on the SDGs, is separate to the work businesses do around purpose. The motivation for pursuing an environmentally sustainable business strategy should be part of the core business rather than being seen as an additional commitment, as risk mitigation or in pursuit of a reputational badge.

Given the climate challenges that businesses must overcome in the coming years, there is an urgent need for rapid acceleration in businesses understanding of its responsibilities towards people and society. An important factor in this is linking sustainability with business strategy, and purpose is a key way to achieve this.

Blueprint’s view on the relationship between purpose and sustainability

Our Five Principles state that a purpose led company, which acts as a Guardian for Future Generations:

  • Honours its duty to protect the natural world and conserve finite resources
  • Contributes knowledge and experience to promote better regulation for the benefit of society as a whole rather than protecting self-interest
  • Invests in developing skills, knowledge and understanding in wider society to encourage informed citizenship

How can a business best act to help achieve this?

  1. Mitigation of harms – acknowledge and seek to measure the harm the business causes, accept responsibility and take steps to minimise the impacts
  2. Innovation in processes, products and services – create new core products and services, which for example, enable customers and encourage suppliers to make their own commitments to contributing to a sustainable future.
  3. Collective action – use the influence and expertise of the business to contribute to systemic change through:
  • Joining with others to help address the damage that cannot be dealt with by the business on its own
  • Sharing the expertise gained to help others address problems that the business has not caused but for which they have knowledge that could help in tackling them.

If you would like to discuss sustainability, purpose or any other topic with Blueprint  please email us

Business has a key role to play in addressing climate change

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Charles Wookey, Blueprint CEO 

As the last week of protests by Extinction Rebellion (XR), the recent schools strikes and the hard hitting messages delivered by Greta Thunberg to MPs this week have highlighted, the world faces a catastrophic threat from unchecked climate change. Public scrutiny, and the challenge provided by informed citizenship, is a vital way in which society can hold business, and governments, to account to meet their responsibility to protect the natural world and conserve finite resources.

All businesses need to take urgent action to address the environmental challenges we all face. We welcome the decision by 24 UK business leaders to voice their support for the XR wider agenda in their letter to the Times and their new project XR Business. It is important that the CBI has voiced its support as well. Going forward, it is essential that a broad movement develops around engaging with the business community, with businesses actively taking part in initiating change and calling on their peers to do likewise. Every leader who makes a statement has the potential to inspire more to feel able to join them.

Many businesses support and are committed to playing a role in delivering the transformation XR are asking for, but in many cases much of this effort is limited to better reporting and taking action to manage financial or reputational risk. This is important but there is much more businesses can do by acting quickly and decisively to move beyond minimising harm to actively seeking to have a more positive impact. They need to innovate – for example creating more products and services which encourage and enable their customers to make their own commitments to contributing to a sustainable future.

For more on Blueprint perspective read our earlier blog Calls for climate action from across society

If you would get in touch with Blueprint about sustainability or any topic please email us