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Think Global, Act Local

By Peter Gilheany

PR agencies spend a lot of time talking about living their values, for themselves and their clients. It is an important thing to do in an industry that gets shaken by scandals like Bell Pottinger every few years, where companies have forgotten that this mantra needs to be practised and not just preached.

It was much simpler in the old days – do as I say, not as I do and use PR to plug the credibility gap that sometimes yawned between the two.

Those days are thankfully well behind us and there is a growing realisation in the business world and the PR sector specifically that we need to constantly push to practice what we preach and be open about the work organisations still need to do when the reality does not match the aspiration.

Living your values as an organisation is important, but to really make a positive impact we need to make sure there is a broad consensus about what those values are and a shared sense of the change we want to make collectively.

There are many ways to approach that. For example, we became one of the founding B Corps in the UK – the movement of businesses focused on driving positive social change. Our B Corp status has helped us to figure out how well we’re doing in the ways that really matter – financially, socially and environmentally. It puts the focus on the difference we can make as a business, both through the work we do for our clients and how we operate as a business.

But the B Corps movement, while growing, is still small. There is a bigger game in town that we believe any business, in fact any organisation, that has pretensions to live its values and make a difference needs to be part of – the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Given the scale and breadth of many of today’s social and environmental challenges, we all need to think and act big and the Global Goals provide the perfect framework for doing that. Every business, whatever its size or circumstance, can use the goals to help articulate the impact it wants to make and, just as importantly, how it will operate as it tries to deliver that impact.

As a business, we’ve picked out three of the Global Goals where we believe we can have the biggest impact:

  1. Giving people access to the products, information and services they need to support their health, and the confidence and ability they need to use it to live well.
  2. Raising awareness of the need to protect and preserve the environment and encouraging responsible, sustainable consumption.
  3. Building vibrant and resilient communities through access to fairly paid, good work opportunities for all.

Those three targets are driving our business strategy, the work we do for our clients and how we run our company for our employees, suppliers and the wider community, in short everything that we do. Whisper it, but we will do better as a business on every meaningful measure as a result of committing to these.

So, if your organisation has committed to living its values and making a positive difference and you are not using the Global Goals to help you do so, then you need to ask a simple question – why not?