Many of the companies that supported our Indiegogo campaign are active participants in the sharing economy and we wanted to hear more about their companies and perspective on the sharing economy. We’ve asked each company to answer the same questions and we’ll be rolling out the answers over the course of the series.
What’s your name?
Dr. Clare Hall, Director, Profit Through Ethics Ltd.
What does your company do?
We champion businesses striving to be as fair, open and responsible as possible. We enable the public to identify and support them, too.
When were you founded and how big are you?
The Profit Through Ethics project has run since January 2011. In January 2013, the project unveiled its proposed new brand/platform/identification mark/business ranking/social movement, which is Responsible 100. Profit Through Ethics Ltd is the social business behind both the Profit Through Ethics project and Responsible 100. Profit Through Ethics Ltd was founded in 2003. Our team currently includes two full-time workers and four part timers.
How do you define the sharing economy?
Loosely. In fact we think in terms of a sharing society. One where the problems of over-consumption, pollution, waste, poor use of precious resources and other negative impacts on the environment and social equality are remedied through a wide range of interactions and relationships. We help sharers to identify and support other sharers. For example, a business may sell its goods and services in the traditional, single owner/consumer way, but its customers seek out and buy from that company, rather than its competitors, because of its sharing values and ethics. We help companies to prove they operate as openly, honestly and responsibly as possible because we believe these are critical attributes for growing numbers of sharing-minded consumers and employees who wish to help build a better business.
How does your company contribute to the rise of the sharing economy?
We provide tools for business and the means for people to reward and incentivise sharing, values-driven behaviours. Responsible 100 combines an internet platform for the disclosure of trustworthy business information and an identification mark. We will also periodically publish business rankings.
How do you build community?
Given it is a grouping of individuals and organisations focused on carrying out a social change, Responsible 100 is a social movement (albeit a very new one). Its purpose is to create a business that serves people and planet. Success relies upon collaboration and collective action. It relies upon a community of engaged individuals and NGOs, or “critical friends,” as well as transparent businesses that are willing to open up to scrutiny and to serve the interests of all their stakeholders.
For this community to be successful and vibrant, all its members need to be able to benefit themselves by benefiting each other. Responsible 100 achieves this when business members gain commercial advantage, individual members gain increasing influence over corporate practice, and NGOs and campaign group members ensure their key issues remain firmly on the business agenda. In this community, participants can support each other toward our shared objective. The ability of our brand to unify its various participants and the power of our processes and platform are key factors. We have exciting plans for rolling out Responsible 100 and growing this new community in 2013.
How does your company reduce consumption and stimulate economic growth?
To benefit from participation in Responsible 100, businesses need to be able to publicly justify what they do. We have worked with leading NGOs and campaign groups to develop 43 questions which examine a wide range of social, environmental and ethical issues. In providing answers, every business has the opportunity to explain how it is reducing consumption while stimulating economic growth. While it is unrealistic to think a business can possess a perfect set of policies or practices, there is a clear, legitimate and growing expectation that it can explain how it operates. In 2013 and beyond, this means a business must explain how it is managing to deliver the goods and services we all need, while decreasing its burden on society and the environment at the same time.
But herein lay enormous opportunities for business. Responsible 100 aims to create a race to the top – to enable businesses to compete on the ambition and impact of their social and environment innovations, as well as on price and quality. In the future, we can expect leading businesses to gain commercial success without damaging society or the environment. Indeed they are likely to be able to improve them, for example, by sucking up various kinds of pollution or reversing social decline in the course of their day-to-day operations. When the businesses best serving people and planet become the most profitable, we will improve our world.
Can you share a recent milestone your company has achieved?
We have taken the two years’ worth of consultation and collaboration gained through the Profit Through Ethics project, and the eight years’ worth of R&D which preceded it, and created Responsible 100. In its first few weeks in the public domain, it has been received incredibly positively.
What’s your biggest challenge?
Achieving critical mass. To provide value to participants, we need a critical mass of businesses, partners and individuals in the movement. Meeting this challenge is integral to success and thus has been a key focus in the development of our strategy for growth.
What is your favorite thing to share?