What's the future of sustainable business?
I don’t have the definitive answer but I’ve spent two decades exploring the possibilities.
Growing up as the daughter of a teacher and social worker, babysitting for all the rich private-sector families in my neighbourhood, I thought my parents had missed a trick; business was clearly the way forward. I’d heard most CEOs have an accounting background, so decided to become an accountant, rise the ranks of some multinational and live life as a high-flying businesswoman.
A year in finance at a blue-chip multinational was enough to teach me that working for such an organisation would not fulfil me - that experience put me off the private sector for two decades.
After four years of public-sector consultancy in London, I got into International Development, as trusted advisor to the Minister of Finance of Malawi. I devoted the next decade to public service at home and abroad, specialising in sustainable development of African economies. Incredible experiences, high potential for impact, but in terms of fulfilment, still something was missing.
In 2017 I got the opportunity to jump ship back to the private sector and put my money where my mouth was and test my theory that business was the real sustainable solution to economic growth and development. Intrepid Travel - a company with strong values aligned to my own - had shopped around for a way to mission-lock its core values past its founders’ tenure, measure its social and environmental impact and roadmap an improvement plan whilst growing profitably. B-Corp was the only movement that fit the bill.
I used the B-Corp framework to measure three African businesses in my portfolio against the standards, gaining points for positive impact where due, and gaining ideas for improvement where it made sense for our business model. After a year of improving our levels of positive impact, the company certified as a B-Corp and joined the movement, committing to make Board level decisions considering ALL stakeholders, not just shareholders i.e. a triple-bottom-line approach to business (people, planet, profit).
After two decades as working as a consultant, trusted advisor, and director for other organisations, I have started my own venture, using my consulting, advisory and coaching skills to accelerate the impact of good business and champion its leaders.
If you're a leader or change-maker in your organisation and would like to find out more about using B-Corp to measure and improve your social and environmental impact, as well as long-term profitability, get in touch and let's expand your triple-bottom-line.
Mehalah Beckett is a consultant, coach and trusted advisor passionate about people, the planet and empowering others to inspire positive change. She coaches purpose-driven leaders to impossible goals, hosts Masterminds for hungry entrepreneurs and guides businesses through B-Corp. What can I help you achieve in 2021?