Conscious Capitalism

Professor Steven MacGregor is a social innovator who has been teaching, researching and publishing about unorthodox topics such as personal sustainability and sustainable leadership. About a decade ago, he founded of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona of which he is the CEO, and for more than 15 years, he has been contending that companies should not only be money making machines. We are happy to feature Professor MacGregor as one of our Changemakers!

Part of the LAB team in Barcelona

When was the LAB founded?

The LAB was founded in 2007, when I was directing a research project on CSR and teaching on executive education programs at IESE Business School. The project was one of the first European funded efforts with a specific focus on CSR and innovation, while my teaching focused on the health and wellbeing of executives, which I viewed as personal sustainability. I felt my take on sustainability, as an aggregate of both these areas, was unique enough to take the plunge and start a company. The defining thought for me at the time was that sustainable companies couldn’t be built on people who weren’t sustainable themselves. Essentially, it’s about bringing a more human approach to business.

What does sustainable leadership stand for and why did The LAB start to develop projects and training in this area of expertise?

Most of what we’ve done in the past 10 years has been centered on the health, well-being and performance of people at work. We’ve had aspects including mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and sleep coaching in our programs during that time. Of course, we need to manage and lead ourselves better before we can lead others. We train people to be inspiring, energetic and engaging leaders who get the best out of their people. I think that many have forgotten the simple fact that leadership is about others. Considering our basic human needs is an effective way of doing that.

Can you present some of societyLAB’s current projects?

Most of our engagements tend to come in the healthLAB and designLAB. Societal issues are integrated within these projects, for example in areas such as talent management, client experience and workspace design; but scaling up societyLAB is a big objective this year. Our idea is to focus on the area of societal wellbeing. One specific idea that we’re pursuing is using behaviour change tools to nudge peoples’ behaviour in areas such as alcohol consumption.

Steven MacGregor

What are your goals for 2018?

Using more sophisticated behaviour change tools is something we’ve been looking at for several years. These tools represent cutting-edge machine learning and algorithm development and will allow us greater insight into what works in the classroom and how we can better design our work and home environments to be happier and healthier. We make the case for wellbeing at work to be a more strategic concern. More generally, we simply want to keep having an impact on peoples’ lives.

Do you believe companies are now convinced that CSR can make both social impact and profits? How do you evaluate the current state of corporate involvement with environmental and social issues?

Most of the leading companies are now convinced yes, though they may not call it CSR. There is a deeper awareness of the contract that business has with society. How that manifests itself changes from company to company. In general, organizations are realizing the key role they play in peoples’ lives; and by engaging with them more closely – be they employees, customers or the wider community -, they know they will add value to the business in the long term and protect themselves (as much as possible) from the dangers of disruption.

Horyou is the social network for social good. What is the role of the internet and social media in influencing our companies to be more sustainable and socially conscious?

Transparency and talent. Companies can no longer get away with fancy words that are not matched by deeds. The younger generation is automatically attuned to social good in a way probably never seen before and they will hold enterprises accountable to a new way of doing business, if not directly, then certainly with how they choose to spend their talents. Even the biggest and brightest companies can no longer count on brand prestige or history to attract the best talent. People want to invest their time in something bigger than themselves.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth.

Every time we decide to buy something, from vegetables to cars, we are making a choice that affects a long chain of production. We must make sure that these daily choices are sustainable if we want to build a better future.

Photo: UNDP

In Bangladesh, thousands of workers face the same daily struggle: sewing for 12 or more hours a day in clandestine factories, making only enough money to survive, while allowing for fast-fashion brands to sell their clothes for affordable prices. In Brazil, farmers use pesticides, putting profits before their workers and consumers health, and killing bees and birds without whom no healthy and natural environment is possible. Do we really want to continue to support a chain of exploitation and environmental damage?

SDG 12 is about sustainable consumption and production – and it has everything to do with our choices and priorities as individuals. However, it also needs the support of governments and international organizations to define norms and policies to ensure we build better business practices.

UNDP has raised the flag of soil, water and air pollution, and exposure to toxic chemicals challenges. Despite the many international agreements, only about half the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions that regulate disposal of waste, pesticides and organic pollutants have provided the data and information they had agreed to. Consumption and, consequently, waste, have been increasing in the last 15 years, feeding chains like modern slavery and causing health and social problems.

We can do better as a society! Apart from carefully choosing what we buy and where, we should show a preference for regional and seasonal products and brands that are committed to sustainable regulations. We should act like responsible citizens and put pressure on our governments and organizations to implement better policies that are bound to guarantee a fair production.

We can also support organizations that undertake serious work in sustainable agriculture, and subscribe to eco-conscious and fair trade conduct. On our Horyou platform, one of the most active organizations is Food and Agriculture Initiatives for Development (FAID NGO), which is committed to biodiversity and healthy agriculture, and aims to reach Zero Hunger in Benin, Africa. In Europe, Terre et Humanisme, a French NGO, also promotes agro-ecology to provide food autonomy to vulnerable communities and educate the public on safe and natural consumption.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote sustainable consumption and production in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

Con su propuesta de convertir compras online en donaciones para ONGs, WAPSI apoya el consumo solidario en España. Hoy, más de 150 organizaciones sin animo de lucro están asociadas al proyecto de una de las más nuevas organizaciones de nuestra plataforma Horyou! Entrevistamos a Arrate Sarrionandia, una de las responsables de WAPSI en Cataluña.

Campaña de Navidad WAPSI

Qué es WAPSI? Cuéntanos un poco de vuestra historia.

Wapsi es una plataforma que convierte las compras online en solidarias, sin que al usuario le cueste más. Cada vez que un usuario hace una compra en una de las más de 200 tiendas asociadas que tenemos, un % va a parar a la ONG que escoge, sin que el precio aumente.

Nuestro objetivo es hacer de un hábito cada vez más común como es la compra online, una forma de ser solidario y de que nace en un momento en el que la forma en la que se financiaban las ONG en España cambia y es necesario adaptarse a los nuevos hábitos de consumo.

Cuáles son vuestros principales proyectos?

Wapsi es un proyecto más de la Fundació Equilibri que se ocupa, principalmente, de facilitar el acceso a la educación superior a jóvenes indígenas en Bolivia, a través de microcréditos. La Fundación tiene más de 12 años de recorrido y esta ubicada en Barcelona.

Cuáles son vuestros planes para 2018?

Nos gustaría hacer crecer nuestra comunidad de usuarios: compradores solidarios, ONG y Empresas Solidarias. Nuestro reto para 2018 es que más gente conozca nuestro modelo de compras solidarias y conseguir fondos para que las ONG que participan en el proyecto puedan continuar realizando su labor.

El consumo consciente es cada vez más valorado, pero el consumismo aún es un reto, principalmente en las fiestas navideñas. Cómo estimular un comportamiento más consciente de sus usuarios?

Uno de nuestros objetivos es promover el consumo responsable y creemos que eso no está reñido con utilizar nuestra plataforma para captar fondos para una ONG.
Nuestro trabajo es acercar el trabajo que realizan las entidades sociales a los usuarios y mostrarles como pueden colaborar con ellas.

Esta Navidad, y la Fundació Mona han preparado un sorteo para premiar a los Compradores Solidarios. Ente todas las compras que los usuarios registrados en la plataforma WAPSI realicen hasta el 11.01.18, la organización sorteará un pack con libros, títeres y una visita guiada a Fundació Mona.

CEO of Kering Group Francois Pinault
CEO of Kering Group Francois Pinault

In 2012, the luxury, sport and lifestyle apparel group Kering made a bold and pioneering move in the world of corporate social responsibility as they set themselves a series of sustainability targets to achieve over a four year timeline. Not only that, but they announced they would also publish the results at the beginning on 2016. At a time of increasing pressure from discerning customers and in turn increasing competition in the area of sustainable fashion, it was done with the goal of driving the brand toward higher levels of economic, environmental, ethical and social performance.

Among the targets set out was strict monitoring of their supply chain processes by evaluating suppliers every two years, reducing carbon emissions by 25%, being PVC free by 2016, completely eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals by 2020 and having 100% of their gold, diamonds, leather and fur ethically sourced. Ambitious to say the least but the CEO of the group Francois Pinault even said that as a commercial business, investing in this reorganization of priorities and systems was a no-brainer if they wanted to continue to capture market share.

Panel discussion Parsons University
Panel discussion Parsons University

Ahead of the publication of the results at a fireside chat in Parsons University, New York, he said that “in the year 2015, sustainability is opportunity. We can create value for our shareholders, customers, employees and the planet, and that is what we as a group want to deliver”.

Pinault said that these targets have impacted on every facet of the company. There has been a complete overhaul in governance from top level down, to reflect the goals set out in the report. In addition to tracking the end product across the production line, management have been incentivised with bonuses for sustainability performance. This represents a significant sea change, where employees are rewarded for hitting targets that are not directly profit related.  

Also in a conversation with Pinault at the University was Executive Dean Joel Towers, he said that “you cannot get through a course at Parsons without studying sustainability at some point”. This is significant for two reasons .Not only is Parsons one of the leading fashion design schools of the world and therefore a key driver of trends, but the fact that students are leaving and going into their respective industries with sustainability practices ingrained as a part of any business is important.

Kering luxury, sport and lifestyle apparel group
Kering luxury, sport and lifestyle apparel group

Education facilities, like Parsons, have the opportunity and also the responsibility to cultivate a belief system in their students where they realize that in order to succeed in the marketplace of any industry of the foreseeable future, they will need to appreciate consumer demand for sustainability. Francois Pinault concluded: “We will enhance and expand our sustainability efforts and strive to create broader environmental and social value, proactive in our contribution to solving global challenges and helping catalyze change”.

As Horyou is the social network also trying to connect the people of the world to catalyze change, we commend Kering for their efforts so far and wish them continued success.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

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