Tribe Intelligence - August 2021

Aug 31, 2021

With the growing call around the globe for responsible corporate behaviour, and the demand for companies of all types and sizes to balance profit with the public good, this month’s Tribe Intelligence Research will identify actions that Tribe Members and Partners are taking to move towards a more sustainable future, and provide advice to help others become more sustainable. 

We asked our Members & Partners: What challenges do you face within your business (if any) in order to move towards being more sustainable?

Surprisingly, the businesses who responded to the survey don’t face many challenges to become more sustainable, other than being tasked with designing sustainable packaging, using recyclable materials, using long lasting products and tightly managing budgets to prevent over spending. 

One third of survey respondents explain that they are in the process of becoming  B-Corp certified to achieve the global gold standard of corporate sustainability. Becoming B-Corp certified means that businesses are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This requires a 360-degree examination of everything your business does and how you do it, to be part of this community of leaders driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. In the words of one of our Member agency’s “Challenging, but well worth it.” 

Others explain that they support full sustainable initiatives with  FSC and ISO governance. Becoming FSC certified shows that your business complies with the highest social and environmental standards on the market.

With limited challenges, now is the time for your agency or business to start preparing for the future!  

In question two, we asked: Are you finding that your clients and prospects are more aware of, sensitive to and reacting to issues of sustainability than before the pandemic and if so, are they asking for your help with their efforts?

Interestingly, ALL respondents explained that their clients are looking for more sustainable solutions since the beginning of the pandemic, with most of them asking for help with things like sustainability policies and platforms. Cost is still a factor but is not as prevalent as it used to be. 

One Member agency explains that they have grown their business significantly over the past year due to client demand for their sustainability-orientated information products and services.

Over in Spain, one of our Member’s has recently designed business cards in 100% sustainable sugar cane paper. Their client now has something immediate to talk about when they meet customers. In retail, all materials must be recyclable, not made of plastic (only PLA), no straws etc. In general, in Spain, they are witnessing a lot of consciousness around sustainability, with our Member agency explaining that “everybody recycles everything at home”.

In other parts of the world, clients are sensitive to these issues but are not yet taking big actions. Only 17% of respondents stated that clients are not yet asking for their help. 

It’s to be expected that clients are more aware of sustainability issues since before the pandemic. This is confirmed in a recent  BCG survey of more than 3000 people across 8 countries, which found that in the wake of the pandemic, people are more concerned about addressing environmental challenges. Some 87% said companies should integrate environmental concerns into their products, services and operations to a greater extent than they have previously.

For those markets in which clients are not yet taking serious actions to address sustainability or asking for help, preparing sustainability policies and ideas that can support clients will leave you well placed to respond quickly to clients’ needs in the near future.

Lastly, we asked our Members & Partners: In your opinion, what actions should communications agencies and businesses be taking to move towards a more sustainable future?

Based on the survey comments, we have compiled 10 pieces of advice to help agencies and businesses to become more sustainable.

1. Take a hard look at your company to make sure you’re one that does good in the world, as well as making money.

2. Be honest – no greenwashing. 

3. Don’t run down the ‘digital only’ route. Work towards effective use of substrates and materials to achieve tactile sustainable client journeys. 

4. Always use sustainable materials in your business.

5. Don’t travel for meetings unless it’s essential.

6. Balance working from the office with working from home to reduce fuel pollution, energy consumption, reduce resources used to keep large office spaces running etc. 

7. Make sure to use the resources in your business efficiently eg. Set the air conditioning to 21 degrees rather than 15 degrees and recycle properly.

8. Compensate for your company’s CO2 emissions. Check out  Bilobay, the brainchild of Tribe Member agency Dagré, providing CO2 emission calculations for all fields within the communications sector to help you optimise your campaigns!

9. Ensure that communications around the subject are truthful, objective and grounded in science and data.

10. Apply for B-Corp certification to enable you to take real action.

Not only will becoming more sustainable help the environment, it will also help your business. You can become more efficient, cut costs, improve your reputation, help you to attract and retain employees, achieve better growth and more. 

At the end of the day, there are lots of possibilities for businesses to be more sustainable, and many resources out there to support you. We hope this short list of advice will help to inspire you on your journey towards a more sustainable future. 

If you would like to discuss the findings from the research or find out more about Tribe Global’s network of independent, award-winning communications agencies and business partners, please reach out to Elaine Miller at:  

Tune in at the same time next month for more insights from the Tribe!