By Subathra Vaidhiyanathan
Images by Giulio Mazzarini
Thanks to the combined efforts of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg (among others), sustainability has gone from being a fringe issue in society to being one of the dominant global issues of our time. The stakes are just as high for business also.
Finlays has an incredible history stretching back to 1750 – the definition of a sustainable business! But to keep operating for another 270 years, sustainability will have to drive everything we do. To think about sustainability as a strategy that operates in isolation is to miss the point. You can’t silo something that touches every aspect of your organisation, and increasingly drives a company to be fit for the future. That’s why at Finlays, we’re working towards becoming a purpose-driven business, embracing sustainability-oriented thinking and creative, human-centred innovation.
What is a purpose-driven business?
In purpose-driven businesses, the values that underpin a company are there in every department, and every boardroom decision. Like ‘design thinking’, this moves away from focusing on ‘band aid’, short-term solutions, to thinking about creative, integrated strategies over the long term.
In the words of Greta Thunberg, the question isn’t only “do we have the budget for this?”, but also, “have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?”. Many believe sustainable issues relate to protecting the planet. This is true, but there is another layer too. “Sustainable” issues relate more to sustaining human existence, including making sure we have natural resources to support our business into the future.
We don’t just do it because it’s the right thing to do, but because thinking long-term is precisely what will make our business successful long-term. This is what makes it truly sustainable.
Becoming a purpose-driven business at Finlays will not only help us remain profitable as a business today, but puts people and the planet at the heart of what we do, making sure we will continue to thrive 200 years from now. We have an inherent understanding of this at Finlays, where one of our core values is being sustainable, alongside being trusted and innovative.
We need now to embed these values in everything we do. More than that, sustainability is key to achieving the other two. This means looking beyond short-term profits to create sustainable long-term social, economic and environmental value for our stakeholders, customers and for the world at large. It means making every single decision through the lens of long-term thinking.
Finding the win-win-wins
One way that we are looking at long-term growth in Finlays is through our vertically integrated supply chain. Having greater control over our supply chain not only helps keep our costs down, but also gives us an enormous responsibility to ensure we’re creating and sharing value at every stage, stretching from our own farms, right through to the end consumer. This makes our supply chain one of our greatest strengths for our customers, offering transparency, traceability that reduces risk, and ultimately, trust.
As the global consumer grows more discerning about where their food and drink comes from, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of an integrated supply chain. We have seen how blind-spots in supply chains can lead to unforeseen human, environmental and reputational damage. When those across our supply chain win, then our customers win, and so do we. We promise our customers transparency and traceability to make sure that we don’t have our own blind spots, and that we continually improve our environmental and human rights record. It’s about proactively creating win-win situations.
The role of business in driving change
Collectively, businesses have the power to play a key role in making change happen, as well as a responsibility to do so. And they should do so eagerly, not only because it’s best for the world at large, but because it’s best for their own long-term prospects. And we cannot do this alone. Collaboration is key to driving long-term sustainable change and creating meaningful impact. That is why we partner with stakeholders locally and globally to drive forward our Sustainable Futures strategy.
Finlays isn’t perfect – no business is. But the road ahead is an exciting one, and one we want to bring all our colleagues and customers along with too. Transforming into a thoughtleading, purpose-driven business isn’t something we can achieve overnight. It’s something we need to do collectively and strive for each and every day. There is certainly strength in numbers. The more people who join us on this journey, together, the stronger we’ll become.