Taking A Stand: Challenging structures through good business

In an era embodying the spirit of activism, how can your business challenge and redefine the norm in order to benefit our world and our people?

Our BareAll event welcomed four game changers to talk about their journeys redefining how we relate and make a difference to our structures, businesses and ourselves.

Nolan White, Belu

Belu is a water company with a difference, the difference being the reduction of environmental impact and using profits to fund clean water projects. They believe there’s a better way to do business, make profit and have a positive impact on people and the planet. That’s why we love ‘em.

Belu are up against it in terms of the competition. But punching above their weight comes easily when they live by their values:

Belu values

  • We balance our impact: environment first
  • We’re good for our customers and partners
  • Ethical and transparent
  • Not afraid to be different
  • Investing not spending
  • We all take accountability

Belu have found success in their shrewd, unwavering attitude to ‘good’ business:

  • They stick to their guns: as a UK brand they stay local (water is sourced in Powys, Wales).
  • As an ethical brand they look to innovation to boost results.
  • They’re smart with how they approach marketing: with low cost, high impact campaigns, social media has really helped them boost their visibility.
  • Engaging the right target audience has given them strong relationships with the corporate community.

In addition to being an incredibly successful business, Belu is an award-winning social enterprise. Social enterprises are required to invest at least 50% of their profits into social purpose, Belu invest 100%. They partner with WaterAid and have committed to partnership until 2030 aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To date they’ve given over £3M, and aim to make £1M net profit in 2018.

Belu do well because they stay true to who they are, have clear guiding principles and know themselves. They have a strong digital presence and a well-targeted and executed strategy. By creating a brand that’s honest, hard-working and beneficial to all, they’ve changed the model and found success.

Oliver Heath, Sustainable Architect

We’re approaching a new frontier in sustainable design; we’re moving towards a more carbon-aware, human-centred way of doing things and Oliver Heath, Biophilic design expert believes this is how we’ll improve the human connection to nature.

By 2020 stress-related illness will be the primary cause of sickness. Most of us spend our lives indoors and 90% of the uk now live in an urban area with no access to the great outdoors. It’s had a significant impact on our mental health. Many of us never have the opportunity to switch off or find a place in nature to be happy, calm and relaxed. And that’s where Biophilic design comes in.

Biophilia is the innate human attraction to nature and natural processes. Biophilic design replicates experiences of nature in design to reinforce our connection. It has been proven to improve work life balance, alleviate stress and reduce absenteeism. So how do we do it? Oliver has three key steps:

  1. Improved connection with nature
    Implement real sensory forms of nature i.e. water features, visibility of the outdoors from the workspace, plants in the office, natural light as much as possible.
  2. Natural analogues
    Create an environment with an evolving sense of nature i.e. using natural materials to build spaces, or recreating the ‘feel’ of an outside space with furniture, wall colours, glass walls, art etc.
  3. Human spatial response
    Give workers space to be quiet, or sociable, to energise, relax and restore. Open plan offices feel light and spacious, but make sure there is room for privacy and comfort. Encourage breaks and outside time if possible.

Biophilic design has changed the way we operate in physical structures at work, at home, at play:

  • In educational settings children learn faster, test results are improved and there’s less sickness.
  • Hospital stays are reduced by 8.5%.
  • Hotel guests pay up to 23% more with a view onto nature.

And if it’s good enough for Apple, Google and Amazon (all using Biophilic design to attract the best talent and retain staff), then it’s probably time to move your desk closer to the window.

Livia Del’Anna,  Mr Organic

A young brand determined to change the world through organic food, Mr Organic believes wellbeing starts with good food.

Food is fuel that powers our machine. What you eat affects your mind (thoughts), body (actions) and emotions (feelings). Livia noted that the norm is processed, ‘toxic food’, not natural, nourishing, organic food. And that’s why Mr Organic exists – to redefine the norm.

It’s not just what organic food contains, but what it doesn’t contain that’s important. Modern organic farming practises benefit the whole chain, from people (healthier, less pesticides, less hormones etc) to planet (soil quality, environmental impact, wildlife), while conventional practice reduces minerals and vitamins in the food, giving you less for your money. Maybe you won’t taste the difference but you will feel it.

Mr Organic’s involvement in the community means they’re changing more than the food landscape:

The Felix Project Charity
An estimated 870,000 children in England go to bed hungry, which is why The Felix Project saves food and changes lives. Working with charities, the aim was to feed the hungry with food that was going to waste.

Whole Kids Foundation
Mr Organic collaborated with a school garden project, educating children as to how their food is grown. The level of awareness was surprisingly low, as one child put it, ‘It’s not ready to be picked yet, there’s no plastic on it!’

Good Things Come in Trees
The Mr Organic pasta, as well as being very yummy, also supports sustainable farming and each time a bag of pasta is purchased, Mr Organic plant some trees. As if we needed another reason to eat carbs.

Supporting animal sanctuaries
Their delicious milk chocolate spread won a good food award and they decided only to provide products to clients that didn’t exploit animals. In January of this year they opted for a fully plant-based range of products.

Pandora Paloma, Rooted London

It took a kidney infection and being hospitalised for our last speaker to realise the importance of slowing down in life. Pandora Paloma of Rooted London took us through her experience of working in a fast-paced PR firm and feeling undervalued to the detriment of her health.

Now a specialist in intuitive living, Pandora works with corporate and private clients to encourage a more balanced approach to life. Sound good? It certainly did to us, we were rapt. Here are her 8 Top Tips:

  • Breathe
    Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth (try to get a longer exhale). Honour your breath and its transformational benefits. Just five minutes of quality breathing can reset your stress response and release toxins from the body.
  • Work with purpose
    Check in with yourself – what’re you striving for? What are your goals? Having a clear purpose makes it easy to stay on track. If something’s not sitting well in your heart, re-evaluate – is this your purpose? Is it contributing to your ultimate objectives?
  • Quit Comparing
    Comparisons rob us of time. The habit can never be overcome because there’s always someone better, younger, faster. Remember this journey is YOURS, don’t drive towards a success that isn’t authentically you.
  • Digital Detox
    Try going offline one day a week. This is one of the most positive habits for your mental health. It clears space, builds creativity and resets your busy brain.
  • Rest
    In our ‘DO MORE’ culture, our achievements and successes are never enough and the first aspect of life to be sacrificed is our rest.
  • Set Boundaries
    The ultimate act of self care is saying ‘no’. Burnout comes when you accept responsibility for everything (parenting, bossing, friending). Know what benefits you and say no to the rest.
  • Self Care
    Feel good about yourself. Often. Go to the pub with friends. Eat chocolate cake with the papers on your own. Have a (long) bath. Your glass half full isn’t helpful to anyone.
  • Be Kind
    Pandora truly believes if we work with kindness, workplace stress will reduce dramatically. It takes more energy to be an ass than it does to be one of the good guys. Try some random acts of kindness and feel your karma get stronger.

And if this event sounds right up your street and you want to come along to our next BareAll get in touch with Corrina.