How to Build a Team for a Better World? September Catalyst Conversation Insights

Every few months we bring together a select group of Network Members for an in person Catalyst Conversation session at our Manchester Headquarters (similar to a roundtable). This month was centred around the topic of building a team for a better world.

It allows our invited members to draw upon their expertise and years of experience to offer their unique perspectives on the topic, that we can share with the rest of the Better Business Network. 

This month we invited: 

Hannah Cox, Founder of betternotstop, a Sustainable Impact Agency and the Better Business Network!

Simon Ursell, Founder and Managing Director of Tyler Grange, an environmental planning consultancy firm.

Jonathan Berry, Director at Tyler Grange, an environmental planning consultancy firm.

Donald Moore, Managing Director and Chair of One+All, a schoolwear manufacturing company.

Corin Bell, Executive Director at Open Kitchen, a sustainable catering company who invests all profits into tackling food insecurity. 

Simon Lewis, Corporate Partner at Brabners LLP, a B Corp certified law firm.

Ed Hobbs, Regional Operations Manager at X+Why, a flexible workspace provider 

By sharing this knowledge we can guide our Members to use these insights to prepare for their future as a purpose driven business 

We discussed:

  • How to hire:  how can a purpose-driven organisation effectively and ethically recruit the right people that align with the values and mission of the business? How to look for the right candidates, assess candidates and ensure the process is ethical and fair while considering the progressive EDI aims + values of your organisation.
  • How to retain: how can and should a purpose-driven organisation operate and support its employees? What employee benefits should you offer, how you can build a fair and respectful workplace culture, best practice on people management skills. 

What were the key takeaways? 

(read to the end if you want a list of policies to consider for your business)

  • Most Members agreed that as a purpose driven business, you should assess candidates based on their values and make this a critical part of the application process (rather than hiring based on experience and hoping they assimilate into the culture). 

This does not mean that they need to have experience in another purpose driven organisation, but they need to align with what matters to you and your business purpose and mission. 

  • Equally, a common opinion shared was that it was just as important to help employees change roles, progress or even leave the business if it was what was right for that individual. There is no point keeping an employee in a role that they are not happy in, as they will simply disengage and not deliver the same quality of work. 

One Member argued that actually helping an employee to move on when the time is right is beneficial to the business overall, as it gives you an exceptional reputation and means you will attract candidates of the highest calibre.

  • You have to invest in your employees, trust them, engage with them and allow them to engage in the decision making process in return. It is not a ‘cost’ to treat your employees as they should be treated, it is morally and ethically right – but also an investment that will reap benefits for your company.

All Members agreed that paying your employees properly, ensuring they have a truly fair work life balance, encouraging professional development and allowing them a genuine say in the decision making process will get the best out of your employees. In the long run, investing in your employees will show your business off as the force for good that it is, attracting the best and brightest candidates.

  • One crucial factor that the Members agreed upon was the concept of ‘radical candour’, or genuine transparency and honesty. It is central to making your employees feel respected and in return, open enough to have a discussion about where they can improve if they aren’t delivering in a non-judgemental or ‘kid on the naughty step’ manner. 

The return is also true – being receptive to criticism of your leadership style and management practices. 

  • Having a diverse workplace is difficult for many in the purpose driven business sector, which is overwhelmingly white and middle class. One solution included using anonymous CVs to ensure blind recruitment practices to avoid unconscious biases. 

One business had set up a social mobility group that created ‘insight days’ which meant local children could access and learn about their workplace, hoping to encourage children from all backgrounds to feel like that industry is accessible to them.

Others had sought out experts from the local VCSE sector who can help reach disadvantaged communities, looking at paid internships and apprenticeships for entry level job roles, rather than simply advertising on Linkedin and other places which do little to break out of the traditional ‘purpose driven mould’.

One member asked: are you as inclusive a business as your purport to be? Have you got an awareness and understanding of the differing needs of the range of religions, ethnicities and social classes we have in the UK. For example, accommodating different prayer routines, allowances for suitable work clothing and covering travel for the first month until payday are all worth reflecting upon. 

Members of the Better Business Network have access to our online members area which signposts them to businesses, tools, resources or workshops to help them with all the topics discussed above. If you would also like to be part of a community that cares, consider joining the Better Business Network today. 

What can you learn from this discussion? 

Some policies that have been implemented by those in the room that are worth considering for your business are:

  • Low pay differentials – always view decisions from the perspective of the lowest paid in your company. There should not be a big discrepancy between the highest and lowest paid worker in your organisation
  • Employee Ownerships and Profit Share
  • 4 Day Working Week (with no reduction in pay)
  • 8% Pension Contributions so employees get a real living pension, and can have a decent quality of life in retirement.
  • Eliminating all unpaid work – including time spent at ‘voluntary’ events that eat into employees free time
  • Good annual leave allowances. As an example, the Better Business Network we have 28 days annual leave, plus bank holidays and we close between Xmas and the New Year which doesn’t come out of our holiday allowance.
  • Options to buy and sell annual leave
  • Anonymous CVs for Blind Recruitment practices 
  • Use recruitment agencies that support your values – Disrupt are a B Corp recruitment firm and came highly recommended by one attendee
  • Anonymously survey your staff on everything, you can’t fix what you don’t know. Ask them what they need, ask them what they want and ask them what you can do better – and be sure to genuinely listen and work to resolve the issues that arise
  • Financial literacy education – the cost of living crisis is severe and many employees may be struggling unbeknown to you. Issues like debt prioritisation can make a huge difference to quality of life
  • If you operate a business that is traditionally lower paid and want to support these workers, consider interest free loans. Many lower paid workers resort to payday loans at exorbitant rates, and businesses can usually access finance at a much more affordable rate

Thanks to those Members who joined our Catalyst Conversation on “How to build a team for a Better World’. 

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Better Business Network and getting involved in events like this, you can apply to join here or reach out to our Community Manager James Dady for more information.