Hi, I’m Brigit Douglas, ORB’s new Membership and Marketing Assistant. I graduated from the University of Cambridge in July with an English degree. I’ve been biding my time somewhat, trying to find a job which speaks to my values. It proved hard to find something that allows me to be creative and write, with a meaningful overarching narrative attached to output. Then, I met Jill Poet, CEO of Organisation for Responsible Businesses, at a ‘Sustainability and Green Jobs Fair’.

 

Green-baiting

 

I won’t reveal the location of this fair, but the dupe they pulled off is worth mentioning. The poster in my inbox had a picture of the planet on it, littered with reduce, reuse, recycle symbols. Cliché, but still appealing. And yet, when I walked in, the room was awash with big chain restaurants hiring hospitality staff. Having glanced at their banners, I could tell you all about employee discounts. Press me on a single ‘green’ commitment they’d made, and I’d stammer.

They banned single use plastic straws over a year ago (insert casino/chain pub/chain restaurant name here), you’re not going above and beyond basic compliance!

To be clear, at this point, I kept exasperated remarks lodged in my head. Recruiters were there to hire staff. They didn’t need to act as defence lawyers for vast and faceless companies. The main body I was questioning was the council who’d hoisted in these chains.

Slapping the word ‘sustainability’ on the promotion would jolt the attention of ‘Gen Z’. We get a bad rap (‘shallow’ is a frequently made accusation), but we’ve been dropped from the cradle of education into a bizarre economic landscape. Plenty of us experience climate anxiety in spades. Of course we’d flock to a fair promising sustainable employment opportunities. An awful lot of us in the 16-24 age bracket were there, wandering stupefied from table to table.

 

Authenticity shines through

 

I had almost made my way around the entire room when a banner caught my eye. It had the ORB belief that ‘Doing Good IS Good for Business’ emblazoned on it. The sight of some green leaves with raindrops on them was balm to my eyes. Especially after the screaming reds and oranges of a chain I won’t name. But as anyone who’s doing their homework on the Green Claims Code knows, nature scenes can be deceiving too. So, I sat down and asked Jill about the organisation.

Upon hearing ORB’s mission, I felt free to be myself – I’d found the real deal in a room crowded with pretenders. I expressed my shock to Jill about the blatant greenwashing in the room. It was like finding an oasis of good sense to come across her table. I felt compelled to prove myself useful in any way that benefitted ORB. As any interviewee knows, this is a welcome sensation. Instead of knowing you’ll have to siphon off a part of yourself to go to work, you feel motivation in your core.

 

Why ORB gives me hope

 

  • Jill has a pragmatic, reasonable air paired with palpable determination and gusto. This makes for a harmonious blend. When she detailed some of her exciting ambitions for ORB’s value-led vision, I trusted her off the bat.

 

  • Thinking in wholes and systems is a great way to consider business. So why shouldn’t businesses take real responsibility for their big picture? Environmental, social and local impact sends ripples outward. Good or bad. Any SME that does commit to bettering their contribution deserves to stand OUT for that fact. ORB membership signals that your business takes pride in standing for responsible principles. Completing the Responsible Business Standard course* is a step further. Gaining RBS certification on top, is even more watertight.

*I spent my first week at ORB working through the Responsible Business Standard course in depth. My thoughts on it can be read in my second blog post.

 

  • It’s understandable, but hopeless, for SMEs to point at giant corporations and back to their own venture. ‘Well they don’t make the effort’. ‘What difference can my small business make until they reform?’. Let’s get empowered! 99.9% of the UK’s business population is classed as an SME. If we can slowly but surely band together, we’ll join forces to influence a mindset (and so, culture) shift. Leading by example will change consumer patterns and the standards they demand from corporations in turn. Isn’t it much nicer to know you made ethical business decisions because it felt like the right thing to do, not because you were forced to?

 

  • ORB encourages you to start from the beating heart of your business and work outwards. Appearances fool some, but when no ethical substance is found behind a ‘business front’, rumblings of mistrust carry all the way to boycotts. Browsing the Responsible Business Directory entries is great way to locate value-driven businesses. I’ll be getting in touch with current members soon to offer a writing service. We can further flesh out directory entries, so your responsible message is clear.

 

  • This movement isn’t driven by fear. Generally, people don’t like to get told off, they like feeling good (weird, that). ORB isn’t here to scold you. No one has it all figured out. Showing commitment to make the necessary steps will place your business within the current tide turn. The feel-good factor of ORB is clear. Your business benefits when it aligns with compassion.

 

Meeting the community

 

As you can tell, I’m very happy to have this role at ORB and I’m looking forward to speaking to members in the New Year. On a personal note, I’m also passionate about:

And for fun, I’m trying to get better at knitting because all I manage is scarves… of varying widths and lengths.

Feel free to connect with me on either link below.