Introducing thenetworkone’s Sustainable Development Group

Environmental and social issues are everywhere right now. From advertising campaigns to supermarket shelves, Netflix to politicians clutching nervous bunny rabbits, it seems like everyone is trying to make the world a bit better. A bit more sustainable. This is undoubtedly A Good Thing.

And yet, what does it all really mean? How do we separate good intent from green washing? Genuine positive impact from glossy sustainability reports? If you’re in the communications world, your clients are looking to you for answers right now. But do you know how to respond?

It was these questions that led a group of agencies within thenetworkone to come together as the ‘Sustainable Development Group’, pool their knowledge and experience, and seek out some answers. The forthcoming series of articles is the first fruits of that engagement.

Over the next 12 weeks we will publish a series of thought-leadership pieces which invite you to engage authentically with the sustainability agenda. We are starting today in the hyper-local context of your own office, and 10 simple things that you can do to improve your organisation’s own footprint. Over the coming weeks, we will slowly lift our eyes to examine corporate purpose, explore concepts and frameworks like the Triple Bottom Line, B-Corps and my own Future-Fit Business Benchmark, before exploring how to connect corporate purpose, brand purpose and strategy – and ultimately the overarching question of what it means to effectively communicate ‘sustainability’.

There is one word that connects this verbal smörgåsbord – action. All of our authors are united in the view that it is no longer acceptable to just talk about sustainability, it has to be deeply, truly, completely embedded in every aspect of how you do business. Virtue-signalling that you think climate change is important, or that Black Lives Matter, but without action, doesn’t cut it. If it’s just words, your stakeholders will see through you in a moment and you risk your reputation (and balance sheet) being left in tatters. Or you can brave it out and ignore those bunny-hugging urges all together, but don’t expect the Gen Zs and an increasingly aware (sorry, I just can’t say ‘woke’) consumer base to be queueing for your services.

We very much hope you enjoy this series, and are challenged and provoked by the various viewpoints. TNO’s Sustainable Development Group has an open door, and we welcome any fellow explorers / travellers to come join us. But most importantly, we want these articles to inspire change – only together can we create a truly flourishing future for all. So, I’ll close with a personal challenge: in return for reading these articles, why don’t you commit to making (at least) one change within your organisation, big or small? And then come tell us what you did – the authors could ask for no greater “thank you”.

Martin Rich

Co-founder & Executive Director, Future-Fit Foundation