Our business development manager Martha summarises the key topics and action points…

The first Better Business Summit was brilliantly envisaged and put together by Hannah Cox, the founder of #betternotstop and the Better Business Network, to create a call for action for purpose- driven businesses.

As the business development manager at Circular DS, it was really enjoyable to meet a variety of businesses and entrepreneurs who share our values and targets. On an extremely cold day in Manchester, the Better Business Summit created a warm and welcoming atmosphere with an agenda focussed on sustainability and inclusivity. We were encouraged to bring our own lanyards, a delicious vegan lunch was served (if only I had the recipe for the cauliflower curry!) and the wildflower seed paper informed attendees that the Manchester Business School no longer provides paper and pens for conferences, instead use your own or do without (I have accumulated too many of these pens in the past!).

The incredible speaker line-up provided engaging, optimistic and insightful talks. The programme was facilitated by BBC Presenter and founder of iWoman Academy, Ngunan Adamu, who expertly focussed the conversations on difficult questions while keeping a positive atmosphere throughout the whole day. The talks focussed on critical topics from bringing nature to the boardroom, funding, values in business, individual as well as institutional change, equality in growth and opportunity and prioritising which actions to take.

The focus on action was refreshing.

Rather than providing general hints towards collaboration and making change, the choice to end each talk with one specific action we can all make today really drove a sense of individual empowerment.

Yet one key question came up, who do we work with?

Defining your customer base is a common dilemma when working out how to pitch your business.

Do you only want to work with those customers already associated with the cause and values you strive for? Or, do you want to try to create change or at least encourage small steps in businesses not willing/or not focussed on the cause?

The answer appears to be both.

Sharing knowledge is the best way to start change and a key place to start is with businesses already invested in improving the way we live, work and consume. We must recognise that the change we are demanding is significant and these entrenched issues require collaborative answers and a combined approach – as such it is important to work together with likeminded business towards a common goal rather than compete with one another.

The Better Business Summit demonstrated the impact of asking one key question – what would nature say?

Placed next to the speakers throughout the day was a chair decorated to represent nature – the silent stakeholder that has been absorbing our carbon outputs. This visual representation of nature highlighted the need to embed sustainability, diversity and inclusion in every business in every team, at every level, every day.

Raising questions around sustainability, equity, diversity and inclusion issues to those businesses which do not prioritise these issues will start the conversation and underline the need to change.

We need to start somewhere and a helpful starting point is to always consider if the environment, the voices unheard and the voices suppressed could speak:

  • What would they say?
  • What would they ask?
  • What would they want?
  • What would define their strategy for sustainable growth?

I look forward to attending the next Better Business Summit to continue to ask these questions, encourage action and change how we do business.