Tag Archives: CSR

Better business for all

On April 20, Gong Communications founder, Narda Shirley joined other signatories to the Better Business Act at the House of Commons to lobby MPs for a change in the law. If passed, the Better Business Act would amend section 172 of the Companies Act so that businesses are legally obliged to consider all stakeholders. As it stands, company directors are accountable to shareholders with profit maximisation as their primary fiduciary duty.

 

 

This change would mean companies are no longer able to pursue profit at the expense of workers, communities or the environment. It could help transform the way we do business and free decision-makers to act in favour of balancing in long-term interests, rather than chasing short-term financial gain.

Better Business Day kicked off with a panel discussion featuring CEOs from graze.com, Pukka Herbs and Ella’s Kitchen, moderated by Financial Times journalist Joy Lo Dico. Innocent Drinks CEO Douglas Lamont, co-chair of the Better Business Act Campaign, told the audience: “We must remove that hiding place for directors that all they have to do is maximise profit in today’s world. Companies must now balance the interests of people, profit and planet.”

Mary Portas, the campaign’s other co-Chair added her remarks and shared anecdotes about her early career as a young female company director at the luxury retailer, Harvey Nichols. She reflected on the role she and other company Directors played, believing it was their responsibility in the ‘80’s ‘greed is good’ culture to encourage consumer consumption of brands without thinking about the effect on the environment or the workers in global supply chains.

The campaign has already gained over 1,000 supporters, including The Body Shop, Oddbox and Virgin StartUp. It was initiated by B Lab UK, which serves the growing community of UK-based companies which are certified B Corporations.

Gong founder Narda Shirley says. “We know from the work we do with our clients that lots of businesses are already acting in a way that takes care of their employees, communities and the environment. But the law has not kept up with this change in business culture – that is what we’re trying to address with this act.”

One of the key actions of the campaign is to get signatories to write to their MP. There is a template letter on the Better Business Act web site that cites a survey of members of the Institutes of Directors as finding a majority think the current Companies Act focuses too much on shareholders and not enough on wider stakeholders.

It also references Research by the Better Business Act which shows that companies run in line with the principles of the Act can expect faster growth in turnover and headcount; greater levels of employee retention and diversity, and higher levels of innovation.

The same research found that 76 per cent of people in the UK want businesses to be legally responsible for their impact. They think that business has a responsibility to protect the environment and the majority favour brands that do good in the world.

At Gong, we urge businesses to add their voice in calling on the government to change section 172 of the Companies Act to make this official. Let’s ensure that all businesses are held to account and are legally required to make decisions that benefit workers, communities and the environment, while delivering profit.

To join the campaign, click here.

Gong Communications Impact Report 2021

As a B Corp, we are required to report on our impact.

We are pleased to share our 2021 Impact Report, both in terms of the work we do and the clients we are proud to work for and also to reflect on our own activity.

It might not be the punchiest of reads, but it reflects the core pillars of the B Corp movement, reporting on our efforts to contribute to society, how we play our part in the wider community, the environment and how we use resources, our suppliers and who we choose to work with, and our most precious commodity, our people, and how we operate as a business.  We hope you enjoy reading what we’ve been up to as much as we’ve enjoyed doing everything in this report.

Click on the image above to download Gong Communications’ B Corp Impact Report 2021.

If you’d like to get in touch and find out more about our work, email us at info@gongcommunications.com

Unlocking the wildlife economy

Africa is taking the lead when it comes to realising the potential the wildlife economy has to offer. Home to abundant wildlife and diverse habitats, it is perhaps not surprising that the journey to unlocking and diversifying the wildlife economy begins on this continent.  


 

Investing in natural infrastructure is a win-win. It means habitats can be restored, species saved and jobs created. It benefits people, nature and business alike, but governments and policy makers often fail to see nature as a key strategic asset. Instead, conserving wildlife is frequently viewed as a direct threat to economic development.   

Helping to turn this view around is the School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) at the African Leadership University in Rwanda. Its Director of Research Sue Snyman says the economic value of wildlife in Africa is still not recognised. To remedy this, SOWC has published a report on the State of the Wildlife Economy in Africa to show governments in concrete terms just how much the continent’s natural capital contributes to the economy.  

The report focuses on the ‘Big Five’ activities of the wildlife economy: ecotourism, carbon markets, forest products, hunting and fishing, and game ranching. Snyman hopes the research will encourage governments to invest more in nature.  

 

HOW DO YOU PUT A PRICE ON AFRICA’S WILDLIFE?

Traditionally, the wildlife economy has centred on ecotourism. In Africa alone, the wildlife safari industry is estimated to bring in between US$12.4 billion and US$42.9 billion in revenue. In 1981, our client African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) helped found one of the most famous ecotourism projects on the continent – the Mountain Gorilla Project in Rwanda. Thanks to its work, the mountain gorilla population has grown from only a few hundred at its lowest point to over 1,000 today – giving them the dubious honour of being the only great ape species whose population is increasing.  

The project has been such a success that it is now facing another problem: a lack of space. The gorillas are so numerous that they are frequently roaming outside the park boundary, putting them in direct conflict with people. The Rwandan Government is planning to expand the park by 37.4 square kilometres, increase tourists’ viewing opportunities and invest more than $70 million in social housing and infrastructure for Rwandans living around the park. This will provide jobs for more than 7,500 people in tourism, construction, agriculture and service sectors.  

 

WHO BENEFITS?

 This is the wildlife economy operating at its best. A system where everyone and everything benefits – wildlife, habitats and people alike. But the Covid-19 pandemic threw this, and many other ecotourism projects across the world, into chaos. When the tourism industry shut down, it became very clear that the wildlife economy needs to diversify if it is going to survive.   

One way to do this is to find other uses for species. Developing a sustainable wild meat sector through game farming (think ostrich, crocodile, antelope) can bring benefits to local communities, like food security, and even to the environment if it is done in the right way. So can game ranching – if management practices are up to scratch. The South African government is working with experts to explore the potential for a certification scheme within the ranching sector.  

Hunting remains a highly emotive topic. Some countries, like Kenya, have banned it altogether. Others, like Zimbabwe, focus on foreign hunters rather than locals, and countries such as the UK have plans to ban the import of hunting trophies from Africa. Francis Vorhies, Director of the African Wildlife Economy Institute (AWEI) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, believes that 2022 needs to be the year we start a serious conversation about hunting. To this end, AWEI will be researching the role wild harvesting – including hunting – can play in conservation and economic development.  

It can be easy to forget that the wildlife economy is about more than just animals. Traditionally, definitions exclude plants but according to Gus le Breton, CEO of African Plant Hunter, that is wrong. Plants provide both the habitat and food for wild animals and are integral to the wildlife economy, he argues. In his vision, Africa is the new frontier for natural ingredient research. 

 

WHAT IS THE GLOBAL IMPACT?

The FairWild Foundation is trying to ensure that plant species, such as the baobab, rooibos, myrrh and frankincense, are harvested and traded responsibly. It has already certified 25 species from 14 countries. Newly appointed CEO Deborah Vorhies says she hopes the scheme will grow the market for wild-harvested plants and at the same time conserve landscapes and enhance local livelihoods.   

Plants and trees also form a central plank to another facet of the wildlife economy – carbon markets. Last year Gabon became the first African country to receive payment for reducing carbon emissions by protecting its rainforest, which covers 90 per cent of its territory and captures more carbon than the country emits. So far Gabon has received $17 million, the first tranche of $150 million from the UN-backed Central African Forest Initiative, by showing it has reduced deforestation.   

Private sector interest in natural climate solutions has also grown significantly. French multinational Danone, for example, has invested €3 million in a project to restore a mangrove forest in Senegal, which is expected to capture and store around 600,000 tons of CO2.  

Relationships between investors – be they from the private sector, governments or UN agencies – and those on the ground delivering conservation need to be nurtured if the wildlife economy is to blossom. In March, we helped AWF do just this at an event for more than 50 guests from the sustainability, finance and investment sectors and expert speakers from AWF Rwanda, Wilderness Safaris and FSD Africa, at the Royal Geographical Society in London.  

 

If you are a charity or startup business seeking investment and require PR support, please contact our expert communications team direct at info@gongcommunications.com and we’ll be in touch.

B Corp Month 2022 Part 3: A celebration of 10 international companies #BehindTheB 

PART 3: HOW CAN OTHERS B THE CHANGE?

In the finale of our 3-part series zooming in to focus on 10 inspiring international B Corps, we’re heading out East Asia to spotlight 3 more certified organisations. Gong’s B Corp Committee member and Senior Account Executive, Ryan Witton, acts as your guide to the final fab three.

If you missed Part 1: Where it all started, click here for the full blog.

To catch up on Part 2: B Corps all over the world, click here.

TREE PLANET

Tree Planet began life as a simple tree planting game on smartphones in South Korea and led to the planting of over 1 million trees in areas suffering from desertification like China and Mongolia. Now environmentally conscious individuals can plant trees by ‘adopting’ a pet tree that will sit in one of Tree Planet’s many themed forests. 

Tree Planet aims to plant 100 million trees worldwide by 2050, and more recently began its ‘Make Your Farm’ project to introduce environmentally friendly and sustainable coffee production methods to independent farmers. 

 

MYCOTECH

In West Java, Indonesia, Mycotech binds agricultural waste with mushroom mycelia to literally grow 100% natural building and textile materials. These eco-tech building materials offer effective heat insulation while its leather-like durable fabrics are animal-free and used in a variety of fashion apparel like shoes, wallets and bags. 

Mycotech has a strong circular economy model, re-using, recycling and composting its side streams and waste products, with very little entering landfill at the end of the process. The company-wide mantra is, “Change is a choice – and we choose to take the steps forward towards sustainability.” We’re with you Mycotech! 

 

ETHIQUE

And last but by no means least, we head down to NZ to meet a cosmetics brand based out of Christchurch, with a core guiding principle: healthy products, made with sustainable, naturally derived ingredients. Ethique eschews plastic bottles and harsh chemicals and instead produces super dense beauty product bars. These types of solid cosmetics have a long shelf life and can be used endlessly due to a high concentration of ingredients. Ethique advises consumers that their solid bars last up to 5 times as longer than their liquid alternatives with the added bonus being chemical and preservative free – great for all budgets, skin types and local water quality. 

 

That’s a wrap! We hope you’ve enjoyed following us on this virtual trek to meet just 10 of the amazing7 4,700+ B Corps across the globe. If your organisation is on a mission to make positive change for people and planet, access B Lab’s free eLearning toolkit at https://gongcommunications.com/gong-tapped-for-danone-and-b-lab-employee-engagement-brief/ 

B Lab is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.

Gong launches a Refugee Press Office

GONG LAUNCHES A REFUGEE PRESS OFFICE TO EXTEND REACH OF AGENCY PRO BONO RESOURCES TO A GREATER NUMBER OF SMALL CHARITIES  

Gong Communications today announces the launch of its Refugee Press Office, building on its existing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and B Corp commitments. 

Gong’s refugee press office will act as a pro bono PR and communications resource for refugee charities without professional communications support, helping them to communicate their stories effectively, amplifying their voices and reaching changemakers and campaigners via introductions to key journalists. Gong will provide expert media relations support for up to 10 charities per year through this initiative. 

Project lead at Gong, Hannah Hughes said, “As part of our B Corp community effort, Gong donates 160 hours of PR and comms support.  In previous years we’ve successfully worked with organisations such as Refugee Support, the African Entrepreneur Collective, and Uganda Conservation Foundation, securing coverage in influential international titles such as The Economist. This year, when we sat down as a team to choose which one charity we wanted to support, the issue of refugees and displaced people felt the most urgent. It proved too difficult to choose just one and so the idea of running a press office service that focuses on refugee issues was born.” 

Refugee charities interested in learning more about Gong’s press office service can view the webpage here: https://gongcommunications.com/refugee-press-office/ read more in the flyer here and contact us for an initial conversation.

Why become a B Corp this B Corp Month?

If you’re considering becoming a B Corp this B Corp month, you will already know the importance of putting purpose at the heart of your organisation. Here’s why we became certified as a B Corp back in June 2017 and continue to be proud members of the B Corp community today.

Becoming a B Corp

Our mission is to help purposeful organisations communicate their positive impact. As a sustainability PR agency based in London and Kenya, we know that purpose is what drives business forward and defines it. By becoming a B Corp, we wanted to hold ourselves accountable to the highest standard of overall social and environmental performance and transparency – to our colleagues, to our clients, and to the world.

Gong’s commitment to #BetterBusiness

The process to become a B Corp is rigorous but companies starting the journey may find that they don’t need to change significantly. This blog outlines some of the changes that we made, and how formalising some of our existing practices helped to embed them throughout our company DNA.

These practices hold true today. In our latest company Impact Report, we outline that to play our part in shaping a better future, we look for clients working to solve the ‘wicked’ problems facing society and the planet and use our expertise to help accelerate their impact.

Alongside the big themes such as renewable energy, food security, ethical investing, ESG, carbon markets and climate risk, we are also privileged to work in sectors such as diversity & inclusion at work, global health and economic development. Being a B Corp and being independent means that we can say ‘no’ to certain types of brief. We can’t in good conscience work for big carbon emitting organisations with their heads in the sand that aren’t committed to a Net Zero future. This is important to everyone at Gong.

Good Governance at Gong for #BetterBusiness

As part of our company impact assessment, we track our clients’ focus in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We aim to work with more changemakers and innovators using business as a force for good.

Board diversity is important to us. 80 per cent of our Board are women and 40 per cent are from Ethnic Minority backgrounds. We are committed to bridging the social mobility gap prevalent in our industry.

B Corp benefits

If we haven’t yet convinced you that your business should become a B Corp, here are a few more benefits from joining the community:

  1. Improved impact, through participation in working groups and sharing best practice with other B Corps
  2. Collaboration through partnerships with other B Corps
  3. Networking opportunities at exclusive community events
  4. Support from B Lab on global issues
  5. Recruitment and retention benefits by engaging employees in your company’s mission

So how do you certify as a B Corp?

First businesses must measure, manage and report their societal impact using the B Impact Assessment, which looks at five key areas:

  • Governance
  • Environment
  • Customers
  • Workers
  • Community

Businesses need to score 80 points or more to certify, considering the impact of decisions on all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

Once certification is complete, you will have joined more than 3,800 B Corps worldwide. We look forward to welcoming you to the B Corp community!

Positive impact stories: B Corp month

This week, as part of B Corp month, we are charged with telling a positive impact story from among our network.

One of our favourites is from our partner, the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC). This wonderful collection of business accelerators supports local entrepreneurs to drive job growth across Africa. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Collective has been disbursing business resilience grants from a special relief fund (established with help from the Mastercard Foundation) to support entrepreneurial refugees in a Rwandan camp. This is in addition to the business training and financial support that they provide in the normal course of events.

We were lucky enough to be able to support the AEC in communicating some of the refugees’ stories – including that of Karasira Mboniga, who runs a food and money transfer business – as part of our corporate CSR work. Most notably, they were covered in The Economist in a feature entitled, “The world’s toughest business school – the challenges of being an entrepreneur in a refugee camp”, which you can read here. The grants provided by the AEC proved a lifeline for the entrepreneurs who needed to support their families during this pandemic, whilst also avoiding debt and maintaining stock for customers when supply chains suffered.

The fund has already helped almost 4,000 entrepreneurs; 91 per cent of the businesses that were closed have since reopened. On average, the ventures have managed to increase their staff by a third within a month of receiving a grant. Now there’s a positive impact story.

As a proud member of the #BCorp movement, we support #BetterBusiness, believing that it is vital to use business as a force for good. With other B Corps like us, we aim to create an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.  What’s your positive impact story?