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How to tell if you’re purpose-washing

Most of us are to some extent purpose-washing. That’s because it’s tricky in a complex system to make every decision fully inline with our beliefs. Sophie Turton is an expert at helping impact-driven organisations put their words into action.

Sophie co-founded The Joyful, a brand and marketing agency for purpose-driven businesses. Her work involves helping businesses of varying sizes create a net positive impact, and is a champion for individuals’ agency in creating change.

Things to consider

  • A lot of businesses are trying to do right, but are are the mercy of external forces.
  • What feels in purposeful alignment in one culture may not work at all in another.
  • Net positive impact means that even the smallest organisations can have an impact.
  • Small to medium sized enterprises make up 99.9% of the UK business population (gov.uk, 2021).
  • Human beings need to feel they have a purpose.
  • Even those who preach the gospel of good intent still makes mistakes. Pobody’s nerfect, but we can strive for better by owning our mistakes.
  • Every time we use our voice or stand up for others, we push larger companies to make better choices.

Links

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Occasional updates about new webinars, courses, and other things we create to make your podcasting life easier.

Transcript

00:00:00Mark
I'm gonna see how, if I'm gonna be distracted by this cat or if I'm gonna make him go away. Go on. Off you, off you go.
00:00:05Sophie
Made him go away with your mind waves.
00:00:08Mark
You're listening to Ear Brain Heart, an experiment in showing up. I'm Mark Steadman and I was the sort of kid to whom you could never say things were just so. I always wanted to know the why behind the what, and I feel like even more keenly today, especially when it comes to language.
00:00:30
Helping me dig beneath the surface of words, like purpose and impact is Sophie Turton, co-founder of the Joyful, a marketing and communications agency for purpose driven businesses. I think Sophie's probably the living embodiment of the spirit of the podcast as her work and the whole name of her business. Is around doing the hard things and asking the difficult questions, but holding it a little less tightly.
00:00:59
This was a great chat and there's loads to take away from it, but it all begins with me trying to get to the bottom of what do we mean? When we talk about purpose.
00:01:10Sophie
It's interesting because when you actually look at what purpose means, everything, especially businesses has a purpose, especially businesses. Um, otherwise, you know, they wouldn't be, they wouldn't exist, and generally their purpose as a business, legally, generally your purpose is to make money for your shareholders. So it, I definitely find it interesting when we talk about purposeful businesses or purpose led businesses. Cause it's a little bit of an oxy, not an oxymoron. Sorry, but it's like,
00:01:42Mark
Totology?
00:01:43Sophie
Yeah, an ontology. It's just saying what it is, it doesn't tell us anything more than that.
00:01:47Mark
So is it then about saying what the purpose is behind the, the actual sort of stated? Yes, we, we have to exist to make money. I guess the purpose then is defin. how we deliver on that purpose. you know what I mean? Like it just, the it's sort of the purpose behind the purpose, I dunno.
00:02:05Sophie
Absolutely. Yeah. And, and we speak a lot about purpose beyond profit. So, you know, yes, you are here to make a profit or you might not be, there are a lot of, um, nonprofit organizations, um, at the joyful we work with, not for profit charities and very much for profit organizations, all of whom are purpose driven organizations.
00:02:27
Um, so it's all, it's about having a purpose beyond profit. We speak a lot though, in terms of impact, because actually purpose is one thing, but it's really about what kind of impact you're making and impact on a social systemic environmental level, across all areas of your business. To me is so much more interesting than, than talking about purpose.
00:02:53Mark
Do you find companies or, or organizations are coming to you with. The sense of, we have a purpose, we want to make a particular impact, how can you help us? Or are there aspects where people are trying to, or companies are trying to find their purpose maybe as a new organization or as one that's sort of trying to reconnect with itself?
00:03:13Sophie
That's a great question. And I think there's for us in our experience, it's kind of a mix of the two. Um, we work a lot with businesses who have a really burning sense of purpose and a sense of, of being up to something in the world that's beyond just selling a product or service and they have so much passion and so much drive just don't know how to articulate it. And it's interesting cuz we are communications specialists and I've experienced this myself of, almost like the passion becomes so almost overwhelming that you can't see through it to understand how to extrapolate the meaning from it enough to be able to articulate that to somebody else so that they get it in just like a couple of sentences. Um, we work with a lot of businesses like that.
00:04:02
We've also worked with some bigger businesses, global businesses where they really identify an area where they want to be more purposeful and, and really niche into an area where they can make a real difference, a positive impact. They just don't know how to, to break into that or how to position themselves within that. And what's interesting with those businesses. Because they're operating on a much larger scale across different cultures, and that's a really big thing as well. When we talk about this, cuz we are coming from our cultural idea of what this means, which is not universal at all, or planetary really, uh, I dunno what Martians think. Um, and you know, and so they're really trying to walk their, walk their talk, however, a lot of the time they're not managing to do that because they have old habits or they're getting pulled into an old way of doing business, which again might be out of their control, cuz they're working with businesses that are very much in that old paradigm.
00:05:06
And that's where I think purpose washing, it's an important thing to talk about and it needs to be approached with, with a kindness, because I think a lot of businesses really are trying their best and at the same time are at the mercy of external forces. And so that's where there's sort of this two sides of it. It's like, are you trying your best and constantly looking to improve and, and live to let's say purpose or have a positive net, a net positive impact, or are you using it as a way to manipulate people to think that you're doing what you, what, what, you know, that consumers are looking for these days, because you've read in the Kinsey report report that tells you that that sort of, that consumers are looking for, but actually you dig beneath the surface not very far and you realize that everything about your organization is doing quite the opposite.
00:05:56Mark
There's a lot in there.
00:05:58Sophie
Yep.
00:05:59Mark
I wanna go back to, the idea of our cultural sense of what purposes or what impact is differing from others. Where have you found that sort of, that disconnect where you are assuming that, well, this is what we all mean, and then you're like, well, no, it's not what we mean.
00:06:16Sophie
Yeah, I think it's, it's also, when you look at the, the kind of cultural ideology, um, so we can look at the US and China as two environments in which I know. A fair bit about because I've lived in both of those countries and worked in both of those countries.
00:06:33
Um, the us is very cutthroat when it comes to, um, employee, there's no employee rights, there's no rights actually generally for a lot of people in the US, and that is the norm and also not okay. Culture, you know, it's, it is the norm. And I think businesses go over there and can get trapped in that way of, of employee treatment. For example, a client might, might have a US office and be working with US based large businesses. If you wanted to have your business be, um, very flexible to your employees, which to me would be a very key part of being a purposeful business is how you treat your employees. It's not just about your product and service, it's everything you are doing and being an integrity to your whole system. And you wanted to have say a four day week, because you've identified that that's a really great way of treating your employees, that might be possible in places like the, or the UK and other parts of Europe, where this is becoming more mainstream. In the US, this is. Really not how they do business in a lot of places. And if you are working with traditional businesses who aren't, you know, tech startups in, in Silicon Valley and who have very traditional ways of doing business, you might wanna do one thing, but your customers and your clients are totally not on board with that. And that could really impact how you can grow your business.
00:07:59
And so that is the sort of things that we see our clients having to deal with of how do, how do we have a unified approach across all these different countries and work with businesses who don't have that same approach?
00:08:12Mark
That's where it feels like the idea of the, the important word, when we talk about net positive impact for me being net. It's not that sort of that pressure that everything you do must you must be above reproach or beyond reproach in all terms. It's like, no, we we're, we're allowed, we're allowed to screw up, but we're trying for a, we're striving for a, uh, a better, uh, outcome.
00:08:35Sophie
Exactly. And we, the Joyful have been talking, we've stopped talking so much about purpose and started talking about net positive impact. Because not only as you say it, it kind of allows for this evolution and it's so important because none of us have it figured out, like literally none of us have it figured out, um, and it's all about being in, in the, in the investigation. And on top of that, it also stops people, businesses talking about having a positive impact and only looking at one specific area of their business. And a, cuz actually you could be having an amazingly positive impact on your customers. There's one business that I can think of perfectly for this. Amazing customer service horrific experience, working with them horrific impact on the environment. Horrific chain of production.
00:09:26Mark
Can't imagine who that would be. Alexa, stop.
00:09:30Sophie
I mean, who could that possibly be? Um, but would you say they're a positive impact business? Like they have, there are areas of their business that has an immensely positive impact, however, their net impact when you add everything together. And I love that as well, because, you know, for those small businesses like our business, we might feel like we can't have a positive impact because we're too small. But then when we start to look at it in the way of net positive impact and every single interaction in every single part of your business, having an impact, you start to understand, actually we all have the potential to have, you know, have a massive impact, especially when you add us all together.
00:10:12Mark
I am reminded a little bit of the, uh, US sitcom, The Good Place. And there was a realization that they came to in, I dunno, series three or something where they were trying to re reevaluate the system by which humans are judged. So the, the spoiler, the through arc within, uh, the series is this idea that no one has been admitted to heaven in hundreds of years, or the good place. Everyone's gone down to the bad place. Uh, every single person for hundreds of years. And one of the, the ideas that they came up with, because the show was, um, yes, it has comedy writers, but they also did a lot of research with philosophers and, and thinkers, and people into ethics.
00:10:56
And they came up with this notion that the world is much more complex now. So it is far harder to make the good decisions that add up and give you the good points and put you in the good place, because there are so much, you know, we, we can think of it in terms of hypocrisy, we can choose to get a particular product ordered from the company with a smile on the box. But so many of us are aware that this isn't, this is not great. We kind of know all these things, but it's really hard to be able to constantly make the right ethical decision, everything you buy, just because the world is so complex. And I appreciated that they bring that up.
00:11:31
And I think what I like about the idea of the net positive impact is, is that allows businesses to, or organizations to operate under the same kind of precept. That like, yeah, the world is complex. We are part of a big ecosystem. We all have to interact in different ways, and we're all just sort of try trying, trying out well. Those companies that want to are trying their best.
00:11:55Sophie
Yeah, exactly. And I'm always reminded of the Maya Angelou quote, do the best you can until you know better, and when you know better, do better. And it is frustrating because we all know better now. Had, uh, you know, many, many, many, many, many reports from people who really know better than ours, about the dire situation that we are in. And we are all as consumers complicit in, in that. And at the same time, as you say, there's, there's so much nuance to it. There's so much complexity to it. And I think that can create a sense of inertia. Like what can I do? I'm just one person.
00:12:33
And when you think that our, our economy in the UK is, is, is I think something like 98%, small businesses, 98% of people who think they're too small to make a difference. I add that together and you make a huge difference. And I, and that's where we really. Like the Joyful, where we're really focusing of like, you know, yes, you, the chances of getting it perfect are slim to none because of the complexity of the world. And there's still a lot that you can do. And being open to that is such a beautiful way to exist. And there's such a beautiful energy to put that out there in the world. Um, and to sort of help that we've created, we are calling it the Impact Wheel, which looks at all areas of business practice, um, and gives you sort of a set criteria of where you might be able to score yourself across each of these and, and questions you might wanna ask yourself if you, if you dare to get really honest, because it's uncomfortable and we've had to do it ourselves. And then you start to see I'm really performing in this area where I've put lots of my time and energy. And I'm underperforming in this area, which might be something really uncomfortable. Like for us, it was like, we thought we were doing a great job with our team and that they were really happy, asked them a few questions and it realized, and you realize, oh, there's a lot more we can be doing here.
00:13:53
And so rather than beating ourselves up about that, we then have a measurement to, to kind of measure our growth and success against. Okay, right now we might be scoring, say five out of 10 on employee happiness as an example, let's in the next few months, get to seven, eight. We can grow, you know, and it's just all about sort of a holistic approach to growth and, and making impact across all areas.
00:14:19Mark
Do you think the idea of Impact and purpose leads to happier founders?
00:14:30Sophie
I think human beings very much need to feel like they have a purpose. And I absolutely think there's an, an awful lot of studies that show that human beings that live with a sense of purpose are much happier. And, and there's, you know, other things you can compare this to, like, for example, addiction recovery, something I'm very, very passionate about. Um, A lot of that is, is about finding a purpose beyond yourself, beyond just your kind of individual needs as a, as a, as an animal.
00:15:02
So yeah, I do think that that founders who are running a business with purpose are, are happier and also a lot of the time, dissatisfied because, uh, the, the goalpost is constantly moving and it's so nuanced. There's so there's no blueprint for it.
00:15:22
It's I mean, I was watching a documentary recently about the men who formed America, like Carnegie and JP Morgan and on all these kind of cutthroat ruthless men who just went for it. And I was just thinking to myself, I'm a terrible entrepreneur. Like my, my drive to want to make the world a better place really is at odds with what businesses are supposed to be, what the foundation of a business is. And that's quite challenging sometimes. So there's like so many different sides to it, and that's the issue when you live in a nuanced world is there's always, there's always lots of different sides to the story.
00:16:01Mark
I think that that concept, that, that idea of being. A terrible entrepreneur, because you do things that aren't cutthroat that can stem from all sorts of things. You know, it, it doesn't necessarily have to be about purpose or even net. I think probably it does connect to net positive impact. Cuz if I think about that with, with some of my decisions that I've made, I I feel like I probably could have made easier decisions, taken easier route and probably made a lot more money, but I sleep a lot better at night knowing that the people I work with, um, and the people I seek to help are those that aren't necessarily being served. You know, they're give, they're being given bad advice. They're being told to mint NFTs and to do various other sort of, kind of gross things. And I would much rather sit here and try and figure out how to make some money and keep a roof over my head, but also know that I'm not lying to people and I'm not selling people on something that I don't believe in. Um, and so I guess that is net positive impact.
00:17:15Sophie
Oh, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. It is. And, and it is turning the whole system of capitalism. Not so much on its head. I think it, it's not about not having a capitalist system. It's about ethical capitalism and creating products and services that people actually need, and that will make the world a better place. And, you know, maybe not a hundred percent need, there's lots of things that people want, but at least not manipulating them into thinking that they want it.
00:17:46
And so I think there's a huge amount of room for growth for businesses who do think like that. It's just, maybe the, the growth is, is kind of, it's not quite so linear, um, as, as your, as the traditional concept of capitalism is, and you are right. Like it does, it does help us sleep better at night.
00:18:06
And also it's not even just that it's like, I believe like as human beings within evolved consciousness, weirdly we've really become. The parasite of the world. Like we are the only animal in the ecosystem that does nothing but destroy. We have no place here. We have no purpose in the ecosystem of the world. And I really, really feel like it's our responsibility to find that purpose and use our immense brains and energy to at least right some of the wrongs that we've already done.
00:18:40Mark
And I guess there's an argument there and perhaps I'm playing devil's advocate for no reason, but, uh, maybe there's an argument there that, that people say, well, my, I wanna make lots and lots and lots of money because I want to be able to put that money to good use. I always think of, um, make a lot of TV references, but I think about The Wire and this, uh, this guy who sets up a gym. Uh, If I remember rightly he gets a bunch of drug money, and he uses it to set up a boxing gym for kids who are at risk of joining gangs. And, and you just think. Yeah, like, there's a great reason to make a bunch of money. Um, not that you know, but again, it's like that line. It's that non-linear thing, it's the, you know, that, that this is not the story of someone who decided to, to start a gym, but it is absolutely the story of someone who, who has ended up doing that and has ended up having a net positive impact on the world.
00:19:29Sophie
I think that's interesting cuz then it comes also back to intent. So when he was first doing his dodgy dealings, his intention wasn't, I'm gonna get, I'm gonna do this, go to prison, then come out and then start this gym. Like he, maybe you could say that he had some kind of an awakening and that was what brought him to, to having more purpose. And I think, I think that's the kind of key thing. It's it's and again, this. Is something I think is important for businesses who are listening, you might go, oh my god, I, I, you know, what if I'm making all these mistakes and I don't even know it? And my answer is you probably are because we're human. And I mean, I can't even tell you how many mistakes I've made with the best intentions. It is so much about that intention though. And then when you realize, oh my gosh, I I'm, I've made I've, I've done this thing. I've had this impact and it's not. And it's been a negative impact it's then how you choose to deal with that? That matters, I think. And I'm not saying we should all go out and sell drugs, go to prison, but I do think that that there's an opportunity for redemption always in, in our, in our practices. And an opportunity to wake up. I think that's what it is. It's about waking up, realizing I as an individual anyway, even if I don't run a business, have impact in every single thing I choose to do. I, as a leader have impact and influence. So that's even more. Of a responsibility and I absolutely have then the choice of how I'm going to use that responsibility. And that's, to me again, it's really empowering in a time when everything will tell us that there's no hope. It's about finding that hope and working together to, to create a future. We actually want to live into.
00:21:15
And I think there's, there's a well known, uh, phrase, which is do something every day that scares you. We could also have it and it's like just little micro things. We could also have it be, do something every day that, that makes a difference to somebody else. And it can be something as small as like, saying hello to the person who's serving you in the shop. Like the amount, the difference that that makes to that person's day, when someone asks them, how are you? Like, you know, really makes an effort is huge. And like, yeah, there are things we can do and how we're we're buying and, and being aware that just pressing a button and makes it easy for us is actually having might, might be having an impact and how we can change that as well.
00:21:58Mark
So for those who are listening and I, I would count myself among them, certainly from time to time who are hearing a conversation and thinking, okay, so got this idea of purpose and net positive impact. How do I know if I'm walking the walk or just talking talk? How do I actually know that I'm putting my money where my mouth is in terms of purpose and.
00:22:22Sophie
I think that's a great question. Um, the first thing is to be in, in the conversation, like in the investigation, that might be another of those buzzwords, but it's something that I really like the idea of, of like getting inside of, of the idea of it and digging around and really asking yourself some, some honest questions.
00:22:43
Um, how we went about doing that was, uh, we didn't audit of our whole business practice. Um, so that included all of our suppliers. It started basically as a way for us to get to be a carbon positive workforce. So we had to look at every area where we were emitting carbon and reduce that as much as possible, um, before we then looked at any kind of offsetting and in that process of doing that. So our, our intention was to. Become as green as possible. And in our process of doing that, we realized how out of integrity we were across so many other areas of our business. This was basically the beginning of our starting to think about things in terms of net positive impact, our creation of the impact wheel, our working with businesses to help them to get an understanding of their own impact. Because we realized we had essentially been talking a great talk. We're marketers at the end of the day, like to think we're quite good at that. And there was a lot about our business that was out of integrity to our message and we didn't even know it. So we were like, okay, well that means if that's the case for us, that's probably the case for a lot of other people.
00:23:52
And I'm not gonna say that there's that still is the case for us. Of course it is because we are a service business. We work with people, people are infinitely complex. So there's also, there's gonna be things that we don't realize that we are doing, that we are doing. That's having an impact on people.
00:24:08
What the difference between then and now is that we are now very committed to constantly reviewing it, constantly being in the investigation, being in the conversation, talking to our people, talking to our suppliers, looking for new opportunities to change suppliers, to smaller providers, to more greener alternatives, which is very challenging when you work online. Always looking for ways to use our influence, to, to spread messages that might help other people being really honest and authentic about our own struggles so no one listens and goes. Oh, I can't do that. And realizing that, of course we all make mistakes and we all can. Um, and so through that audit process, it was, we started to realize that there was some key questions that we could be asking ourselves.
00:24:54
And so that's where I would say that we could all start. And if you're asking yourself, am I purpose washing the answer probably to some degree is yes. I think we all, we all are because we are, none of us are perfect. So it's really about understanding. Where, where you're out of integrity and then making a commitment to try to restore that and keep working at it and keep reviewing and keep working and keep reviewing.
00:25:21
And then also talking about your, your mistakes as well, openly, because again, the whole idea of purpose washing is really about trying to manipulate people into thinking that you're doing one thing when you are actually not. And the best way to avoid doing that entirely is just to be honest about your mistakes.
00:25:39Mark
Does it help us or the world or our businesses, or just our psyches to think critically and listen critically or watch critically for purpose washing in larger organizations? Does that help or are we just gonna sort of make ourselves frustrated?
00:25:57Sophie
Yes. I think it helps a lot because I'll give you an example. Um, and if, if you want any more information, there's an amazing blog that our head of purpose, um, uh, her name's Lucy, she wrote, um, a blog it's on the joyful website called What is Greenwashing. And I had no idea. Basically when a company says that they've used recycled materials, recycled plastic for making their clothes. I thought that was a great thing. And I was really pleased with myself for like changing where I was shopping for that. And she found that actually. Um, that was actually worse because you take the bottles out of the recycling production of bottles and turn them into clothes. There's nowhere else they can go. And I was like, oh, okay. So they could be in the recycling, uh, circular economy of bottles for infinite amount of time. Don't quote me on that. I'm actually not a plastic expert. However you take them out. They might have just had one round of recycling, they're turned into fabric once that pair of leggings or what have you can no longer be worn they're into a landfill.
00:27:09
And so these things are, again, I'm not saying that. Clothing companies who do that and are intentionally doing that apart from, I do think that quite a lot of the bigger, fast fashion, specific clothing companies are deliberately trying to make consumers think that they're doing that they're changing into being more green when that is the biggest pile of purpose washing rubbish, because they are fast fashion and fast fashion in its very essence cannot be green.
00:27:39
So it's, you know, it's kind of thinking, really interrogating. Everything I think is very important because then we can make different choices. And then we can think about, oh actually, rather than spending a hundred pounds on three items of clothing, that's whether or not they're recycled or not is irrelevant, that's gonna last me for only a small amount of time. I'll put that 100 pounds to a small, local, like really brilliant maker. That's gonna last me for years. And it's just those kind of decisions make all the difference. And, and I'm kind of a big believer that these big organizations that have so much power need to be brought down. And the only way to do that is for us to stop shopping at them. We need a revolution, mark.
00:28:22Mark
We do we, we, we do, but it's hard, Sophie
00:28:29Sophie
I know, I know don't get me wrong. You're like, you're not gonna nothing but hemp. And like, I'm definitely, definitely, uh, responsible for, for many, a landfill item. So, you know, I don't wanna give the impression, like I'm kind of preaching in any way. And I'm saying this to myself, like, we all need to be more conscious of our impact and even, and, and it's challenging, cuz even if those of us who are experts in this still make choices that have a negative impact because we're so conditioned to do so, and it's easy. Well, what about people who really haven't ever had access to these ideas? Can't blame any of us? It's we're all part of the machine.
00:29:15Mark
Yeah, completely. Ignorance gets a bad rap sometimes because we talk about ignorance as if things have been ignored and that's not necessarily an active thing. It's sometimes we just, those things just haven't crossed our crossed our paths, you know? Um, and it's not the same as ignoring something. And, and so yeah, you know, our, our, our job as, as people who, who not necessarily know better, but who, who have got some ideas, these little moments of influence and the ways we can do it by normalizing things rather than preaching, because there is so much preaching.
00:29:48
And one of the things that I wanted to to get to actually is the it's so important for us to be able to be wrong. And for that to be okay, And it's one thing to call out a large organization for, you know, a big corporate for their hypocrisy. It's another one to call out a, a smaller business who's, you know, just trying to do something and maybe they've, they've made a mistake. Um, but we don't have, we don't create and is a different conversation, I think, but we don't create enough time, room, space for people to be wrong, to sit in their wrongness and be wrong. We, we go straight to well, now that's the end of you, you know, I'm, I'm certainly not, um, going to go on a tirade about cancel call cause that A, that doesn't exist. And B that's a different thing. But that sort of outrage that we have means that com that companies, people, communities, organizations don't have that time to go, oh, right, okay. We did this wrong. Sorry about that. Now we understand what we did. Let's work to fix it. It's just straight to the shame machine.
00:30:53Sophie
Yeah, I agree. And I think shame is a really huge issue that we have. Um, it's certainly in our society and I think globally. We, it's so destructive. It's so toxic and, and nothing can be created from that space. And I agree. I don't think there's any room for shame here. It really is just about doing, doing better and like, and, and holding our hands up when, when we haven't got it right.
00:31:21
And I love that. I mean actually Lizzo, who I love very, very much. She's a great example of that. Recently, she, she made a, a slur against, um, disability in one of her songs, not realizing that's what she was doing because apparently in the US that's not what that means. And she was called up on it and she immediately changed the lyrics of her song and, and apologized and, and took responsibility and showed, showed that she was listening.
00:31:48
And I think there's kind of the room for wanting to be listened to, which I do think is where a lot of the anger and cancel kind of mentality comes from. And I understand that. And at the same time, I think there needs to be a bigger platform to going, let's have a conversation and hear each other and move forward together rather than making one right. And one wrong. Cause as we've already explor. Today, like there is no, it's never black and white like that. It is so nuanced and I wouldn't really necessarily say right and wrong fully exists. It's a spectrum. Like everything else.
00:32:22Mark
I, yeah, I think of, of the, the world that we exist in now is just being made up of, of lots and lots of tiny little pieces. And what we have is the opportunity to look at some of those little, those little building blocks that make up our little, our own lives and our own little ecologies and ecosystems and worlds, and be able to just look, you know, pick out one of those blocks and go is this, is this the best thing right now for, uh, is this serving the world the best way it can do, and it doesn't have to be more grand, uh, or, or as grand sounding as that, it can just be like, let's just look at this little bit here. And this is this piece actually, you know, am I, or am I buying from McDonald's because I feel better now because they've green washing campaign about how all their plastic cups are being turned into children or whatever it is that they have or
00:33:17Sophie
It cuts turned into the Happy Meal toy.
00:33:20Mark
Yeah. Yes. Um, and, and the, and the, the meals then turning into playground and yeah, and, and, and sure, great. Um, but you know, neatly avoiding sort of anything else that the organization might be doing. But it's, I guess it's it's yeah. We have these opportunities to look at these little pieces every now and again, when we've got space and time and just go, yeah, that one, we, we might be able to make a better choice for that particular block. Don't have to uproot our whole lives. We can just pick these little pieces and go, eh, maybe we could do something better with.
00:33:53Sophie
Yeah, definitely. And I think that, you know, that's one message for consumers and we are all consumer, we all consume. Um, and then the message for businesses. I do feel like it it's stronger than that because. I'm really, really, really, really, it's not even that, I believe it. I know it, all of the data shows it that businesses are the reason that we are in this mess globally, environmentally, socially, it's all because of businesses. Everything that exists in the world, that is a, is a damaging thing, a toxic belief system actually has, if you trace it back has been a marketing campaign somewhere or another. And I, therefore, if that's the problem, then it must also be the solution.
00:34:39
So if, you know, for example, with businesses who have their, their practices and their belief systems and the way they treat people on the chain of production or in their own offices, if they changed that and they started to people with respect as the first thing, like let alone all the other stuff, um, that would, that would have a huge shift. And I, and so I do, I really do believe it is crucial for businesses to operate from, from a place of positive impact in all areas of their business. I don't think it's just a nice to have or just something that customers have realized that, oh, actually, the world is in a bad shape. I wanna know I'm buying from a company that cares. Oh, great, just put a nice, another marketing campaign out there to show that we care, but actually all of our services or our practices are really, are really damaging. It's absolutely crucial.
00:35:40
And I think for customers, really our impact can be in how we cool, uh, businesses out on their, their practice, especially big businesses. Uh, this is more me talking about big businesses. Cause I think on the whole small businesses really are being the change.
00:35:55Mark
there's a to, to go with the sort of big business thing, there is a, I think that came out a few years ago that, uh, people in Apple circles have, have brought up a few times and I. There's good reason for it. There's this lovely, uh, investor call, um, that Tim Cook, the CEO of apple was on, uh, and they're looking at various things and they talk about new accessibility features that they've launched and someone on the call, one of the, I guess, investors or analysts asks, what's the ROI on, on this, on this inve on this accessibility feature and Tim Cook, the mild managed Tim cook, um, in a, in a, in a, in a forceful tirade, says, well, hang the bloody ROI. Um, and his whole point being the Apple, actually as a massive organization, as a massive corporate entity gets to make choices that are just for the public benefit, just for public good that don't have to have an ROI attached to it.
00:36:54
I'm not absolving them of anything that, that they, that they do otherwise. But just to know that there are, there are companies that do exist. Because I, I have that cynicism sometimes I just think, well, this giant faceless corporation that there are no, you know, it's, it's a moral, but I think it's worth sort of looking at both sides of this. There are the companies that are seemingly having a net negative by treating their workers poorly, when the stats show that actually, if you give people breaks, you increase productivity. On the other side, there are, there are also entities that do make decisions because they are for people.
00:37:33Sophie
I mean, I would be, I would be cynical and say that actually it's more than likely to do with the fact that Apple has realized that a large. They could tap into an, a previously untapped audience by having their products accessible. And I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing and comes again back to the power of the consumer. Because ultimately businesses will do whatever they need to do to retain their revenue. And if consumers shout loudly enough and vote with their pound and say, I am not supporting you anymore while you do what you are doing, those businesses will change their practices. And it doesn't actually really matter if the only reason they're doing that is because they need to appeal to their customers as long as they're doing that.
00:38:25
And I think that's the key thing. It's like the purpose, the purpose, washing story is saying you're doing something, but then actually acting differently. I really care about how are you acting? And the reason why you're doing that, isn't really the point. It's the fact that you are doing that. And the impact that you're doing that is massive.
00:38:44
So for us as consumers, every time we choose differently, or we use our voice to say, this is unacceptable, or we stand up and we're in ally for others who maybe can't use their voice in the same way, and say, it's not acceptable that you are not accessible or that you are not representing diversity, whatever that might look like, then every time we do that, we are, we are pushing them to make choices and to take different actions.
00:39:11
And that again, and I talk about revolutions all the time with my clients, cuz I'm really interested in working with businesses who wanna start mini revolutions. And with that it's about galvanizing. Galvanizing your communities to take action, working together to make a big difference. And, and even if all that is, is just writing a tweet about how Apple needs to be more accessible of those tweets and they will be more accessible, a hundred percent.
00:39:36Mark
So this is Sophie Turton. Uh, I'm not gonna keep you long with the admin. Uh, just to say that if you want to check out, there's so much that we talked about in this episode is I think you're getting the gist of it. And that's still a little bit more to go as well. Uh, but if you want to know, uh, if you want to know more, if you want to check out, uh, Sophie and the Joyful's work, then you'll find all the links in the show notes. You'll also find all of that along with a full transcript at earbrainheart.com. And if you like what I'm doing over here, then, uh, on, uh, Sophie's episode page, you can drop in your name and email address, and I will occasionally email you with useful things that I'm doing to help us communicate better and use our voice to create impact in the world.
00:40:23
But, , uh, it just remains for me to, uh, really profusely thank Sophie. Cause it was, it was such a lot of fun, uh, and, uh, really useful conversation, I think, but, uh, but we're not done. And I had to ask, given what we've been talking about, given the weight of some of the subjects, given the trajectory of the world. Is it getting better?
00:40:45Sophie
When we first started the Joyful, it really was, it was quite, I'm not gonna say it was revolutionary cuz it wasn't and we made so many mistakes. Maybe if we'd come at it differently, we might have been a bit more revolutionary, but we were definitely in the minority of, of businesses who were talking about this and our community was, was quite small in terms of, of PE of businesses talking about the importance of having a positive impact. And in the last, definitely three years that has escalated massively. And there's so many reports out there that have been created in the last couple of years that show the sentiment of the people, the consumer, the power really is the power is in the hands of the consumer, ultimately, that, that things are changing and that, that people, individuals want to see actual ethical practice. And, you know, things like purpose, washing, even being a term, people understand greenwashing is a lot older as a term, it shows that people are, are getting savvy to being manipulated and they are looking beneath the surface. Uh, and I think. Really exciting. And I, I can only see that that will continue to grow. And as that continues to grow businesses who historically haven't really given that much of monkeys about the impact that they have on people in the planet will be forced to change their practices. Um, and I I'm really excited by that.
00:42:19
Um, and I, and again, I don't. It needs to be like down with you. I think it's, let's all change together. Let's all be part of making the future, being responsible for how the future looks together, big or small. It, it doesn't really matter. We all have power in that. Um, so yes, I think it is getting better.
00:42:38
it getting better? Fast enough? I dunno. Um, I think that's, you know, that's to be seen. And I do think generally as, as, as kind of a society, there's a lot that can be done on many different levels, which I think is more of a, a systemic responsibility. I don't think governments are taking action quick enough in every respect that needs to happen. Because again, it's not black and white, it's not as simple as saying businesses just need to change. Like, governments also need to understand the sentiment of the people and why it's so easy to manipulate people into whatever it is that, that these companies have manipulated into, which is kind of spans a whole range of different things. Um, and also they need to have much, much stricter rules on plastic. Like, much stricter rules on plastic, because that to me is insane. Like why are we still going to a shop? And we see nature that has its own packaging. Our day wrapped up again in packaging? Like, what, how is that legal? I mean like, are we gonna change the world in this conversation? No, probably not, but I
00:43:57Mark
What if we did, what if, what if this was the one? What if this one was the one that did it?
00:44:02Sophie
What if the governments were listening and they were like shit, maybe it was that simple to just create a law that banned single use plastics. It's that simple.
00:44:15Mark
Well, this has been, um, a revelation. This has been, uh, the, um, the ongoing, um, an ongoing movement. And, uh, and, and I appreciate that. Um, where should people, uh, go to, uh, find out how they score on the Impact Wheel and find more, uh, about the work that you do and, and connect with you?
00:44:35Sophie
So you can find us @wearethejoyful on all social channels and wearethejoyful.com is our website. Um, on there, you can find a whole load of resources about these topics that we've these many topics we've discussed into such a short time. Um, and you can also find a download there to the Impact Wheel, which you can fill out, and then I'd, I'd love to hear what, what you come up with with that. Um, and also just connect with me as well. I'm, I'm really keen to continue having these conversations and, um, would love to hear what's resonated. Um, I think we've, we've really gone in there, Mark.
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