"We are delighted to launch our new partnership with BEE Midtown, which is the first business network of its kind in the UK to commit to bringing its members together to work collectively for the Sustainable Development Goals. This offer gives Midtown businesses the opportunity to be pioneers in London and is designed to enable hyper-local action on global issues and create a point of collective representation in the capital."
To anyone who joined us at the first event of our fifth annual Big Ideas Exchange one thing will have been absolutely clear – engaging in collaborative and collective action will be of utmost importance to businesses that want to experience long-term and sustainable growth.
Alexander Jan, Chairman of Bee Midtown, began the evening by welcoming the audience and our panelists James Gomme, Director of the Sustainable Development Goals at World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and Spencer Craig, the CEO and co-founder of Pure. They were joined by the chair for the evening Emily Auckland, Network Director of the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD).
Before the discussions began, Emily showcased a new partnership between BEE Midtown and the UKSSD that has been designed to enable local businesses to work together to develop solutions and accelerate progress within the SDG framework. The theme of collaboration continued throughout the night, as the panel recognised that the challenges the SDGs look to address cannot be solved in isolation.
Alexander highlighted the role of business in this process, stating that “it seems to me that businesses must step into places where governments have typically acted.” James echoed that sentiment, claiming that in recent years stakeholder expectation has shifted and now people expect action from businesses. He argued that the SDGs “won’t happen without business” but at the same time “business also needs the SDGs”, as without a sustainable society and environment they will be unable to continue operations.
This brought up one of the biggest questions facing businesses in Midtown and indeed across the world; what is the relationship between profit and purpose? “Profit and purpose do not need to be mutually exclusive,” claimed Spencer, explaining that if businesses align their values with those of younger generations, who are the consumers and employees of the future, they will be able attract more customers and win the war for talent. If anything, he argued, purpose can drive profits.
As the evening drew to a close, a sense of excitement was palpable. Yes, the challenges that the SDGs look to address might be daunting but coming together and learning from peers at events like the Midtown Big Ideas Exchange truly helps. For businesses looking to ensure sustainable profitability, collaboration is undoubtedly key.