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Breaking Ice On Plastic

Wellbeing Is Incompatible With Late Payment

Beware of the companies who spout a credo of wellbeing while failing to step up to the plate in dealing with their own stakeholders. That includes paying tax, paying invoices in a timely manner (especially to micro businesses and SMEs) and setting policies that promote employee health, safety and care.

A frequent response to being challenged about late payment is: “This is how big companies work.” But it’s often large companies that put smaller ones out of business: the corporate payment cycle leads to the small company’s cashflow crisis.

A 90-day window to pay an invoice on works already delivered is barely workable for most SMEs, let alone the micro businesses (those with less than 9 employees) that make up 96% of businesses in the UK. SMEs (including micro) make up 99% of businesses in the UK (there were 5.7million in 2018) and matter greatly to the eco-system of economy, society and communities.

“it is folly to think responsibility and influence begins and ends with a compartmentalised tick box.”

The UK Government is trying to reform the system of payment in recognition of the importance of small businesses to the economy. In October 2018 a press release ‘Ending late payments to small businesses’ outlined these ambitions and the Government’s own commitment to pay 90% of undisputed SME invoices within five days of submission.

It acknowledged: “Some large businesses use late payments and extended payment terms to exert control over small businesses in their supply chain”, and promised: “The Government will now seek the views of the UK business community on how best to ensure small businesses are given a fair deal.”

Whilst the increasing focus on wellbeing from many quarters is welcome, it is folly to think responsibility and influence begins and ends with a compartmentalised tick box that extends to product and employees – but disregards everyone else from society and governance to suppliers, the environment and the community. They all deserve fairness and consideration, and over time, the companies that fail to honour these basic policy measures will undermine their own position, especially if they identify as a ‘wellbeing’ anchored brand.

Breaking Ice On Plastic

An Ocean Plastics Field Trip for Corporate Executives Outside Online, 8 August 2019, Rowan Jacobsen

Crossing Oceans In Search Of Common Ground.
“The subtropical island of Bermuda does not see many icebreakers, but on a warm May day, Dave Ford is standing on one, welcoming his uneasy guests aboard. Technically, the RCGS Resolute, 400 feet long and eight decks high, is an ice-strengthened expedition ship, one class below an icebreaker. But the choice still seems inspired, because as the factions of environmentalists and plastics executives arrive, the chill on the ship is palpable, and the only way Ford’s vision of some sort of Paris Accord for plastics is going to happen is if a whole lot of icebreaking goes down.”

Through the Well Intelligence lens…

What happens when you put together leading activists and the senior executives of consumer goods and packaging companies aboard a small ship and sail them out to one of the world’s biggest rubbish tips of floating plastic? And the Greenpeace and Nestle reps are bunkered in the same small cabin just for added piquancy? This account of the world’s most unlikely environmental summit is fascinating not just for the anecdotes and the exchanges that take place, but equally for the exploration of a new kind of issue engagement that is based around experience. Imagine if you could apply this approach to every kind of conflict, so leaders of fast fashion brands were enticed to work in a Bangladeshi sweatshop for a few days. Or even the managers of your local fast food retailers could spend some time finding out about teenage obesity? Some leaders turned down the invitation but many others didn’t – and those who showed up seemed to be transformed by the experience. Could there be a smarter way to promote vital causes and resolve intractable issues in society than conventional protest and reputation management? This could be the blueprint.

Why Pragmatism Outguns Hysteria In Solving Global Issues

Division is rife on many global issues. From Brexit to climate change, over-tourism to gun laws. The response is frequently divided between an ostrich-like approach of ‘head in the sand’ on the one hand, and passionate activism on the other.

What ultimately matters is the welfare of people and planet. The solutions to these challenges are not simple and in most cases are polarising. Activism is necessary to shine a spotlight on the facts and the urgency, but a ‘project fear’ approach doesn’t serve anyone well, on climate change in particular. Hysteria turns people off, no matter the urgency and the undeniable nature of the problem.

So how do we change?

“Hysteria turns people off, no matter the urgency and the undeniable nature of the problem.”

Finding a narrative that resonates in rational, measured terms is the key to creating a supportive and responsive movement around any of these issues – just as it is when we talk about wellbeing priorities. What does it mean and what (exactly) do we need to do?

For these big-ticket issues, it comes down to money, lobbying and strong legislation; but that doesn’t exclude businesses or even communities from taking the lead in defining a desired environment for people to work, live and play in.

When smoking in public was banned in the UK in 2007 it was the economic argument (that more customers would be attracted to clean air spaces, particularly in restaurants) that pushed the policy over the line, rather than clear health evidence that passive smoking also causes cancer and respiratory illness. The result was overwhelmingly positive; businesses fell into line and health stats in relation to smoking improved.

A recent article in the New York Post advocates a more balanced, objective approach to how we deal with climate change, and the same principle can be applied to most divisive issues. In the case of climate change, the biggest issue is cost. A report commissioned by the New Zealand government found that reaching net zero by 2050 would cost the country more than its entire current annual national budget every year.

Innovation is critical. Making green resources cheaper means more research, development and a narrative that people can relate to, rather than being scared senseless.

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