Purpose and profit
2:21AM Aug 13, 2020
My name is Kelly and I'm a studio event and events manager at Springload. We are Wellington's largest independently owned digital agency, but I'm going to leave it to Robin Marshall, who's going to be presenting soon just to tell you a little bit more about us. And I'm really excited to be here today and to be bringing you our first event of the day. We have five wonderful speakers from five wonderful companies sharing their stories and talking about what purpose and impact means to them. We'll then be unpacking things a bit later and we'll hear from each speaker about overcoming any boundaries from balancing purpose and profit.
In case you were wondering, 'what is B Corp?'; the B Corporation are for profit companies that use their power to bring about positive change in the world. B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and public transparency and legal accountability to balance profits and purpose. The B Corp community work towards reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. B Corps consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, their customers, their community and environment and with the understanding that we are all interdependent and responsible for each other and our future generations. So we're going to delve further into some really practical insights and tips around some of these topics throughout the day in all of our webinar sessions.
For our session now, I'd just like to acknowledge all of the companies speaking today have been through the B Corp process which does take a bit of resource and we do understand that not everybody, everyone is able to do that, especially in the current economic climate. But our aim today is that we'd like to provide you with some inspiration and insight into purpose driven business. It is possible to have a viable Value driven business. But we'd also like to address the tensions that might occur when combining profit and purpose. We hope by sharing our stories we can offer some understanding of the value of purpose and inspiration on how you can create this in your own business. And that profitable doesn't have to be a bad word, you can help by reinvesting into purpose. So next we'll hear from each speaker for about 10 minutes each, and kicking off. First we have Miranda Hitchings, co founder of Dignity. She won't be attending our panel session, but we'll have a couple of minutes for questions if needed directly after her presentation. And so over to you, Miranda.
Oh, thank you. I'll just try to make sure that my sharing of screens works well. Is that working? Can you see the slides? Yeah, or is it? Yes. Okay, cool. Okay.
Um, well, kia ora. I'm Miranda. And so today I'm going to be talking about Dignity and how we have prioritised profit and purpose for our business journey. So basically my co founder Jacinta and I started dignity about four years ago. And I'll give you a brief overview of of our of our founding story, because that is really where our purpose came from. But Jacinta's also going to be talking about it this afternoon in a separate seminar as well, but in more detail. But basically, we started because we were seeing reports of students missing out on school because they didn't have access to period products. And this was really heartbreaking to see. We were seeing this issue and we were thinking what we could do. And so we did work to find out more about what was going on and discovered that it was bigger than we realised. Not only were students missing out on school, but for many this means that they were facing long term educational disadvantages. Because if students don't go to school, they're more likely to not do as well and have fewer opportunities in life, exacerbating the cyclical and gendered nature of poverty.
So even though it was a seemingly small thing, supplying period products, it actually had huge consequences. And it made us realise how ridiculous it was that this was an issue, and that no one was doing anything about it, and that it was imperative that free product was getting out there quickly to those who needed it. So we decided to see what we could do. And we toyed with the idea of fundraising, but at that time, the issue was that this wouldn't bring sustainable ongoing support to people that needed it. And ultimately, it wouldn't solve the problem in the long term. So we decided we need to come up with a business model that would enable us to deliver products in an ongoing way. We talked to people everywhere about their periods and basically saw that there was a theme among many women. It was unfair that we were having to pay around $15,000 over our life just to have a period. At the same time, we were also seeing a discussion around gender equality and workplace well being was also growing. And additionally, when we were having these discussions with woman, they were talking about how much a nuisance a period can be at work, having to hide, you know, period products up sleeves as you walk across the office and things like that. So we decided to create this buy one give one model, where businesses would pay for not only products for their staff, but also for students without access. This proved to be a really successful model. Since inception, we've partnered with around 25 organisations to provide 28,646 period period products to people without access. Bit of a tongue twister I think, that sentence. Which has been really incredible. It's seen a reduction in school absenteeism and self reports of improved happiness and confidence.
Additionally, this ethos has helped us - oh, sorry. But the great thing about this model is that it's advancing purpose and profit made an active decision to be commercially minded, meaning we have a sustainable profitable base to work from, which gives us more options. It has allowed us to hire a general manager Anika, and we also have Sophie as well who's a paid staff member too. That's meant that we've been able to grow our impact in a measurable way and we can also achieve this really well through this paid and impact reporting too. And we've also now expanded our impact beyond students to help other members of society as well, because period poverty doesn't just affect students, it also affects other populations. And we now also have an impact base where people can donate through us as well. And additionally, our impact is multifaceted. We get to not only support people without access, but we also get to help with the gender issues at a corporate level too, which we wouldn't have had had we not decided to take a commercial approach.
However, we have faced some dilemmas regarding purpose and profit in our journey. At the beginning when we had no money - so Jacinta and I started this when we were students at 20 and 21 years old, and we only had about $150 to put into the organisation and we were trying to find a supplier of products. We found that we could get incredibly cheap imports through China through Alibaba. But they were really made of plastic and there was lots of issues with shipping them to New Zealand and the carbon that would be required with that. And we had to make a call at the starting point, before we had any customers. Before we knew if the model would even work, we decided that we didn't want to operate if we were going to cause more harm to achieve the outcome that we wanted. So even though it was more expensive, we decided to partner with organic initiative, a female led New Zealand based company that provides biodegradable pads and tampons. However, this value of cause of deciding not to cause more harm to achieve our outcome has been a big part of who we are, and has also helped us guide our business decisions along the way too. And it's the reason we're able to be a B Corp today.
But for instance, this came into play when deciding whether or not to add reusable products to our range. When we first started we only had access to single use products like pads and tampons, even though they were biodegradable, and it was around this time that menstrual cups and eventually period underwear also started to gain traction. And we decided that even though it would reduce the amount that we could sell, because obviously single use products, people need to purchase more than reusables. It was the right thing to do from an environmental perspective, but we did it. On a similar vein, it was also a motivator for supporting and encouraging the government to provide funding for students. Although it potentially reduces our role in the community, this work will ultimately bring a better outcome for all and we don't want to just be a tick box exercise.
Additionally, this ethos of deciding that we, you know, don't want to do harm in the process of doing good has also helped us being young business owners before we even started the business at 20 and 21. I'm 25 now, but having a strong stake in the ground to guide my decision making has meant that we've now become living wage employers and we try and operate as as environmentally as possible, offsetting where we can't reduce our carbon. And so not only has being guided by purpose helped us create a really good company with really strong foundations, but it's also helped us become good businesswomen and grow alongside that too.
So, overall, for us, it's important that we equally view profit, profit and purpose together. Obviously, we can't do what we do if we don't earn money. And I also think there's an issue - for many charities, we're facing charitable burnout. If you don't earn an income, you can often have a lot of passion at the start, and it can fade away if you don't, if you can't also live a good life alongside it. But we wouldn't, but we don't view profit as our core driver. It works as a supporter of our overall goal to create a positive impact on society. But overall, we're using an integrated thinking approach and system in everything that we do. And while making these decisions is not always easy, it's not always clear what the right things to do are and sometimes you definitely don't have a choice, I think having a strong set of values really helps in several ways. I also think people want to work with us because we genuinely try to do the right thing all the time, and I don't think we would last, we would have lasted as a business if we couldn't. And I think it also trickles down into our culture. Because I, I genuinely believe there's no point creating a positive impact if in the process we're making people stressed and unhappy. So it's been really valuable for us in having this really strong values led business.
But I do think we've had a benefit in being a small business and having these values from the start. And I do understand that potentially this has made it easier for us to do it. But I don't think that this means that becoming a values driven business is unattainable for larger organisations, or transitioning organisations. And I know it might take longer and there's definitely a lot of internal politics that can be required to try and transition a business, but I think we've seen it out there. So with organisations like Good Energy, even though there is you know, it's complex, but we're seeing them transition from a business that was just purely profit driven to now putting investment into the electrification of cars and things like that, so I definitely think it's achievable and the right thing to do and better for business. So that's me. Thank you, everyone, and I'll pass over to the next speaker.
And thank you so much, Miranda, what a beautiful story. So interesting to hear about how you started out and have grown from those really strong foundations and how it's sort of like, the profit is alongside your values, which are sort of like helping you grow those. And yeah, just, yeah, fascinating to to hear about the reduction in school absenteeism like that must make you feel really excellent. And yeah, and give you lots of inspiration to keep going. And yeah, move your company further. And that's excellent. I'm not sure if we've had any questions submitted? No, I think we will move on to our next speaker. So, now we have Laura Caccioppoli from Red Vespa, who's going to talk to us next. Laura, over to you.
I'm happy to step in. I just saw Brooke's message about sleeping babies so I wonder if he wants to go next. Just to make use of the quiet time!
Sorry, do you mind if I...?
That's all good, sleeping baby trumps everything.
Awesome. Over to yourself Brooke.
Thank you Laura, thank you so much for that and kia ora everyone. I have a little four month old pēpē that's just gone to sleep so I thought I might take advantage of instead of bouncing him off speaking so yeah, I really appreciate that, Laura. And so kia ora, I'm Brooke and I'm from Sharesies. Ke te harikoa ahau e tēnei ra. I'm really happy to be here today and speak a bit about Sharesies and our journey. I'm going to attempt to share my screen so just bear with me for a second - let's see if this works.
There, you get to look at yourself, enjoy that while I just sort it out
Can you...what can you see at the moment? Can you just see yourself?
We...it's just loading your presentation book and so good work
Awesome - and can you see it without like speaking notes or something, not that there are any but...it looks all good? Cool! Yeah, yeah. Right so yeah I'm from Sharesies and we're based here in Wellington too and it's great to be able to speak alongside other amazing Wellington businesses. So really appreciate being part of this today. So I thought what I'd cover is quite similar to what we just heard two of us go through - who we are and why Sharesies started, why we became a B Corp and how we kind of track our impact. And so here we are, um, Sharesies started in October 2016. And at that time, there was heaps of media about millennials and smashed avocado and never being able to buy homes. And, and there was really no hope to be able to grow your wealth here in Aotearoa. And at that time, Sonya, who you can see pictured here, the other wāhine came up with the idea behind Sharesies. She's like, "what if we could democratise investing? What if we could find a way that people could develop their wealth with small amounts over time?" and, and we all got into a room and really believed that we could make that happen and there could be a way and that the financial industry didn't need to be that scary and didn't need to feel that opaque and we could make it way more transparent. And so the seven of us got together and what was great about us getting together is we had all the skills we needed to get a highly regulated business kinda off the ground.
We have finance, design and developers and customer experience kind of research. But what we did is we spent six months doing pure customer research before we even really dived into what the product could look like or what it would really do. It's like, well, what are Kiwi's attitudes towards money and investing and how can we make that how can we make money a more positive how can we have a more positive relationship with money and be able to grow their wealth. So we really all came around the common ethos that really everyone deserves the opportunity to grow their wealth. So our purpose here at Sharesies is to create the most financially empowered generation and when we say generation we don't mean age specific, we mean people who want to engage with their money online in a fun and, and connected way. So the first our first vision in order to make this purpose come to life is to give someone with $5 the same investment opportunities, if not more opportunities as someone with $500,000. So really helping more and more people get access to investing, feel really confident and motivated when they're investing and to get their voices into companies and really, hopefully, start to really create socially responsible companies throughout the world. And through it people have more of a voice and participation. And so that was our vision. And what we did really early on too is we knew we were, we knew we were creating more than just a product that customers would, you know, track with when you are creating a business and we really wanted to create a you know, a business that really had a positive impact. That was that was - we didn't want to do if it wasn't gonna be, you know, didn't have a positive impact. And so we all sat down and really thought about well, what what type of business do we want? What are the values we want to have in our business and what are things we want to see? And what are the things that we want to see created in the world?
And so early on too the founders set our values, which is to chase remarkable. And so to be bold, take those risks, set new benchmarks, question why the industry is how it is and look at new ways to really make it more inclusive. And this is a really key part of what we wanted to create here at Sharesies. Then 'in it together' is a really important value of ours to. Quite often, at the intersection of finance and tech, those two kind of cultures can be simultaneously, okay, I guess associated with quite individualistic cultures, you know, where you, you've got to win. And really, we wanted to create a culture where everyone was in it together. But my personal win is the whole team's win and their win. You know, it's all about us really striving and being in it together in order to bring our purpose to life.
And then the other value that we really live and hold really dear is 'always care'. And that's really care for each other, we wanted to create a company where, you know, our people really felt connected to each other and felt cared for and that they could care for themselves. And that, you know, work is only part of who they are, and making sure that they get to be who they want to be, but also really deeply care for our investors quite often. You know, there's this fear that balance of profit and purpose comes into play. You see a lot of people in the financial industry really just focus on the profit pools rather than actually focusing on the value that they can create in people's lives. And so that was a really important aspect of what we wanted to create too and they really hold dear and what we really make sure we live up to every day, both individually and and as we grow as a team. So, yeah, we started as seven and now we're a team of seventy, this is a bit of an old team shot, we need to we've been growing pretty rapidly and um, yeah, got to got to get a new team photo really. And we're hiring quite a bit at the moment too. So we're really, really investing and making sure we can create the most financially empowered generation.
So that's a bit about Sharesies and how it came to be. And I guess I just wanted to kind of touch on why did we become a B Corp and that might have been quite obvious through what we just, what I just kind of talked through there. But really, you know, I think we had Andrew speak, who's the CEO of Australia, New Zealand last week, and you know mentioning that there are a lot of companies out there that do green washing or you know, say that they're socially responsible and might you know, donate money, but not actually have really robust processes in terms of how they keep their people, their community, their customers, have good governance. And we wanted to make sure that we were creating a business that is a force for good. And that really, that really was always striving to improve and chase remarkable in terms of creating a really remarkable company. And so being a certified B Corp is a really important part to that. So, you know, it's kind of we're a highly regulated business with a lot of audits and we see this as another really important certification that, you know, everything we do is for our purpose and our people. And we're always striving to improve and see how we can have more and more of a positive impact and the, the B certification is a really important aspect of our business and will continue to be.
So then looking at our impacts we think about well how what are ways that we can really make sure, what are our reasons why we started? And how can we make sure we're always tracking towards those impacts? And then how are we making sure that we're continuously improving and so we've broken our impacts down into six areas. And I just thought I'd take you through those six areas, and then what we've been doing to to meet the impact that we're wanting to create, and then also areas that we know we need to improve, and we'll end on that too. So the first impact that we really measure, and you can see it's right there in our vision too, is to create equal investment opportunities. And what we're really proud of at Sharesies is we brought one cent investing, one cent investing in to Aotearoa. And that was really important, because when we did all that research, it really rang true that a lot of people felt like you needed heaps of money to even just get started or to even be able to grow wealth. And we wanted to flip that and go actually, you can start with anything as little as a cent, and it's also really important that one cent investing to to make sure that we really, really removed the barriers to investing. And that was a key one. Other barriers that people felt that they needed to know heaps. And another barrier was pretty much the branding out there. If you Google investor today, still, you won't see people that look like me or, or the majority of people in New Zealand. And so it's really important that we wanted to really strip away all those barriers and redefine what wealth development was. And it was a key first step. We also introduced kids accounts, and we have thousands and thousands of kids now who can grow their wealth. And this is really important because we wanted to make we wanted to find a way where we could help intergenerational wealth occur too and that transfer and make sure that we're helping that transfer of knowledge really young too, helping kids really understand how to be engaged in investing and over time use their voice there too. So we're really proud of being able to connect to Aotearoa.
We, on our platform, I know I haven't spoken to it much yet, but essentially, we have thousands of investment options, or soon to be thousands actually. We have managed funds that we offer so that New Zealand companies, I'm sorry New Zealand funds that so you can invest in Pathfinder managed funds, which are socially responsible investment options too. We also have all of the New Zealand stock exchanges on our platform too. And we wanted to make it really simple and easy to get the key information you needed to know to help you feel really informed and confident with your investment decisions. And in a couple of weeks, we'll also have thousands of investments because we're opening up access to US shares too and we also have plans to get into offer Australian shares too. And that's really key about creating that access. So anybody with $5 to $500,000 to millions can access all of those investments in one place. And we started to hit the streets too because what we learned through that research is that there's a lot of taboo around money and we wanted to spark conversations and get people talking about, you know, sharing tips and tricks. As soon as we open up those conversations, you remove that kind of opaqueness of the financial world and people can start learning and growing and, and feeling more confident with their financial choices. And so getting out there on the streets is a really important part of what we do too. So now at Sharesies we've got 188,000 Kiwis who can call themselves investors. And today they've invested over 550 million through, they've got over 550 million in Sharesies at the moment. And it's really great to see that we've been able to provide access today.
So the second part, the second impact, we really want to monitor is like yep, access is one thing but how are we making sure we're really having people feel confident and motivated when it comes to investing. And so what we're really proud of is that we've kind of flipped the stats that was there in the financial industry. I mean, before, it's predominantly the majority of investors are over 60, male and live in Auckland. The majority of our investors are under 40, the average deposit is less than $500: $270. And we've got near gender 50/50 gender engagement. And we want to be tracking more in terms of the type of investors we bring and making sure that we're creating a really inclusive investor experience. We also in order to make people feel really confident, motivated, we launched this thing called auto invest so that people could create really good financial habits really simply. And so that's where you can put money away every payday and watch your portfolio grow and that helps you build that confidence. Like there's something happening for me without me having to make the choices all the time. And we've found that to be really really popular too. And everything we do, every new launch we do, we always, you know, everything is run through customers or potential customers. And we're really proud of the fact that we've got nine out of ten customer rated, kind of customer experience from, from what we're doing because everything is about 'are we making this really simple, easy, are we providing access and are we helping people feel more confident and motivated'. And we we write a lot of blogs that are available to anybody at any time to help demystify this whole world too.
So the third key impact is making sure that we're investing in building a really sustainable business. And that is in a lot of aspects of what we do. But I guess the key one is around the regulatory world. We are regulated by the Financial Markets Authority and the New Zealand Stock Exchange and we really see that as really important for for people to feel that trust and safety, but also for us to make sure we really enjoy working with our regulators and making sure we, we know we have the same intentions at heart. And so it's really great to work with them and make sure that we're always working with both of our systems to make sure we can do what we do. We invest really heavily in our people. We've won awards on that and we provide wellness leave, but really, it goes back to that 'always care' value I was talking about before and making sure that our people really, really feel valued and connected to what they're doing and why they're doing it and to each other. The area that we want to do more and more on is investing in our in Aotearoa communities. We do things like lunch money and share clubs where we try and get those conversations that maybe are stuck in boardrooms of listed companies out into New Zealand, into New Zealand and for anybody to listen to and so we've started podcasts where we interview CEOs and really try to make sure that that's accessible but there's so much more we can be doing in the community space which we'll be doing. The environment is another key and our last kind of impact that we really measure and again have a lot more to do. We have quite a little environmental impact, but that will grow as our people grow and as we scale across the world. We have Method recycling bins, which you'll be hearing from soon and and we also deal with KaiCycle and Wellington and Tiny Plastic Factory to make sure that everything is recycled as much as possible or and that we're minimising our use too, and we have a real strong component for people to naturally get to work either from biking or walking and a lot of our team do that and it's really important to making sure that we're creating a healthy lifestyle and reducing our impact on Papatūānuku. So that's all I've got for now. I'm really stoked to be here and happy to help any Wellington companies who are keen to get involved in this and become a B Corp and talk through what it's like. I'm happy to take any questions now but I know we've got space at the end. So kia ora and thank you for your time.
Thank you so much, Brooke. And what you can achieve in between naps is amazing. Yeah, and lovely shout out to Method there as well. Loved that bit. And yeah, wow. I can really like speak to your, your inspiration for starting up, which was those like, all those news reports at the time for the millennials about you know how their financial futures were not so great. And yes, I feel very empowered by you guys. And yeah, it's awesome to hear your story and very inspiring. Thank you very much. And I think next we will move, we'll save the questions for the end. But we'll move straight on to Laura. And she is the Business for Good Champion and she's from Red Vespa.
Thank you. And I don't have any slides, so you'll just have to stare at my face for a while while I talk. And so yeah, as Kelly said I'm the Business for Good Champion with Red Vespa consultants. We are a specialist business analysis consultancy with offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Probably not the kind of organisation you would traditionally associate with balancing profit and purpose but that kind of ethos and that of business for good has actually always been present with Red Vespa. So back in 2003, when Richard Gibson founded the company, his vision was to provide the best possible experience for his clients, but also for his consultants. And since then that vision has grown to incorporate our communities and also our environment. So our work in this area is guided by our 12 Business for Good values. I won't list them because we don't need to, but you can view them on our Business for Good website, which is just businessforgood.co.nz. And those values are based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. So there's a clear pathway back to something bigger, but they represent the areas that we feel we can have the most impact in. And they also feed into Red Vespa's strategic pillars, which guide our overall business strategy.
So how do we balance profit with purpose? There are lots of ways. When it comes to our clients, because at the end of the day, without our clients, we can't do any good, we've got an expert sales squad in place. They operate on the value of care and empathy. They are expert listeners. And they work, they focus on working collaboratively with our clients rather than simply prescribing to them. And they actively pursue companies whose values align with our own. And so that's a clear way that the business for good values come into play for our sales team and for the companies that we choose to work with. And for our consultants, one of the key factors for us is ensuring that their well being is always front of mind. And it's a vital part of our relationship with them. And we encourage them to grow as people as much as as business analysts. And we have a team of people and cultural advisors across the country whose sole aim is to ensure the well being of our consultants, bearing in mind that our consultants spend a large amount of their time out on client sites so we don't see them every day. That becomes really, really super important. We won the Employee Experience Awards Business of the Year a couple of years ago, which has been awesome for us. But what was really more, the best part of that was actually taking the feedback that we got from it and being able to learn from that and grow again from it. And we provide opportunities for connection as much as possible, again, because it's because they're so widespread, bringing everyone together as much as possible is really, really crucial. So we host shared lunches in our offices, tribe gatherings (which is where we kind of bring people together to share knowledge about various different topics), generally on an annual basis we'll host bigger events to bring everyone together in one place. Not so much this year, for obvious reasons, but that's the general plan. And with regards to the environment, we've got a carbon measuring reduction and offsetting programme in place with a view to reach reaching that carbon neutral by 2030. We've undergone a number of waste reduction initiatives too so we also have the Method recycling bins in the office. So Method, doing great things in Wellington. And we're constantly looking for new initiatives that will help us to improve our impact on the environment. So it's, you know, we haven't kind of just said, "Okay, we've got the recycling bins, that's it." We're going to keep looking, we're going to keep trying to improve. And the community aspect of things is for me, I think, where investment really shines. And we've got a number of initiatives in this area, the first of which is Your Kingdom.
I have a beautiful copy here. And this was written by our former Head of Wellness and Social Purpose, Jamie Gibson. And it's an easy to read book which uses traits from the animal kingdom to provide advice and guidance for predominantly young people, but it's actually applicable to anyone on how to kind of navigate life in general. So we've donated over 2000 copies of Your Kingdom to schools and community groups across New Zealand. And we've also delivered workshops and this year we've got a website under development as well. So we'll be able to add hugely to the impact that we can have with it. We have something called The Good Project, which is our newest addition to our Business for Good toolbox. So The Good Project allows Red Vespa to use its core competency of business analysis to work with community based, not for profit organisations who might be in need of that kind of assistance. What we've kind of found with our research is that a lot of these type of organisations have fantastic ideas and they have a great vision but they're not always the best run organisations so we can go in there and we offer our services at a reduced rate to help them just kind of streamline and get things on track and make sure that with the resources they have they can focus that on doing their own good. And so we've done two Good Projects so far. The first was with Comcare, which is an organisation in Christchurch that offers mental health and addiction services to the people of Canterbury. And we just really recently finished one, working with Scouts to help them streamline all of their IT systems. Because they've got huge growth plans over the next few years, they need to be able to service a growing number of people. So we've helped them to figure out how they're going to do that. And we have a community partnership with a wonderful organisation called Lazy Sneakers. Lazy Sneakers were founded by a young schoolgirl Maia Mariner. They connect used reusable sneakers to donate them to kids who don't have them, to give them opportunities to take part in sport. And so we became their first CBD collection point and we also collect sneakers from Auckland and Christchurch too, pass them on to Lazy Sneakers and they distribute them in the community. And that initiative also led us last year to actually purchasing brand new shoes for the Porirua Heat basketball club in place of our client Christmas gifts. And that's something that was really well received by our clients who appreciated the fact that they were using that money to go and do something worthwhile with it. And we also do a number of kind of smaller one off things with a real focus on trying to match with the values that we hold as an organisation but also the values of the people that are within the organisation. So for example, last year following the Christchurch terror attacks, we worked with one of our team members who is part of the Muslim community down in Christchurch and donated grocery vouchers to a number of families that had been directly affected. So it's a fairly small thing, but it's a really meaningful thing that we know is having a positive impact. We had a number of our team shave their heads this year for Shave for a Cure. This was started by one of our consultants emailing our CEO and saying "Oh, do you think Red Vespa could sponsor me?" and she went back and said "I'll sponsor you and I'll also shave my head too!" So we ended up with a team of 10 people across the country all shaving their heads. We had planned to do events to celebrate that, but of course COVID, so we ended up with a video, video of it instead. But we raised over $10,000 for Shave for a Cure, which is just incredible. And then to celebrate International Women's Day, obviously a real important thing, we donated toiletries to a charity called The Aunties, which works with women that are affected by domestic violence. So lots of different ways that we're kind of having an impact in different areas.
And for us having the B Corp certification has been really, really useful in terms of helping us mature our thinking in this area. To the point where we kind of felt it was really important to start talking publicly about what we were doing. And so we do that through our annual impact report, which we've just recently released the second ine of. And again, you can find that at businessforgood.co.nz. I sound like I'm a salesperson now, but that's where it all is. And we know that to be able to encourage others to, to join the Business for Good journey, to join B Corp, you know, whatever kind of term they want to use, whatever they want to brand it as, we have to be transparent about what we do We have to be held accountable for that, whether we've had success or a failure, we have to be able to talk about that and we have to be open to learning from others. And what we found off the back of that is that the more we talk about it, the more we find people who are really willing to engage and to get involved themselves. And yeah, so that's, that's kind of a little bit about where we're at. Obviously happy to take any questions at the end.
Thank you so much, Laura. And yeah, what a fascinating insight there and really interesting to hear about that continual learning process that you guys are going through and in all those aspects that you're doing, and also incredible creative ways that you managed to, you know, drive your values and reach out and help the community as well. Yeah, really inspiring. And thank you so much for sharing. And I'm also really looking forward to your webinar later in the day. I think it's at 12 o'clock and all about diversity and inclusion, so it'll be good. Cool. Thank you, yes, so next up, we have the much talked about Method Recycling company and Lee Bright, Marketing Manager is going to talk to us from there, so over to you Lee.
Awesome, I'll just get my screen here. Is that sharing correctly? Oh, here we go.
Awesome. So hi everyone, my name is Lee and I'm from Method Recycling. It's really great to be here today to talk about Method's journey through purpose and particularly compared to some of these wonderful organisations we get to talk with today, we have a different point of view being a company that produces our own product and really having an impact on that. So I'm going to focus a lot on that and how Method really drives impact not only in our own company, but for our customers and the New Zealand recycling system. And so obviously we can't go past starting with our founding story. Method began with our co founders Steven and India Korner, a kiwi couple who were driving around New Zealand selling generic bins out of the back of a van. They bought a Total Bins franchise because they wanted to start a business for their growing family. But they continued to see organisations that wanted to make a difference, without the tools to really be successful, particularly in a time where we're spending so much time and money designing workplaces that are beautiful and effective, bins are really an afterthought with bins put under desks and into cupboards really not encouraging people to separate their waste or really think about it in any way. So the Korners, with backgrounds in engineering, product design, graphic design and commercial leasing got to work and spent three years researching and designing a product that was not only beautiful, but behaviour changing for the modern workplace. And so from that Method's mission was born: to transform the way modern workplaces recycle, but really leaning on design principles and using considered thinking for all that we do. Sorry. So our mission today is to empower workplace communities to create a more sustainable tomorrow. And this builds on where we started because as we've gone, we've really been able to identify areas where we can really have a bigger impact, more than just providing a product, but helping improving education and understanding and passion for recycling in organisations.
So Method's grown rapidly - in the five years, we've now got offices in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney and London. And particularly as a business in the waste space that produces a product, we believe that we need to be leaders in areas of impact and not just accepting the status quo, but taking active steps to drive change which can really be magnified as we continue to grow as a company. And the way one of the best examples of this is our process to introduce recycled materials. So most of the organisations that have spoken today have really started with a mission and a founding place, but our process in terms of our products has really been developing as long as we've been existing. But we've always known where we wanted to end up and where we still want to end up. So often when people make products out of recycled materials, organisations, rather, they either import recycled materials or use mixed recycled materials, where with Method, we've really focused on keeping our product pure PP. And in fact, last year, we made our 60 litre bins from 50% recycled PP, all from post consumer materials here in New Zealand so that's around 1.3 million ice cream containers from Hokonui and Christchurch, which is a really amazing impact. And we really believe we have a responsibility in New Zealand with the size of our business to continue to drive the recycling industry. And so with the release of our 20 litre bin earlier this year, we actually designed the product to incorporate more recycled materials. And we're nowhere near finished. Currently we're at 50% and in our 60s and 70% in our 20s but we've got another hard yards to do in terms of the coloured parts of our products because they're harder to source recycled materials from. But we intend on keeping that New Zealand focused and using our power and size to find a way to get these materials that we need, but ultimately keeping our products recyclable again.
Product stewardship and maintaining ownership and responsibility for everything that we produce is a massive part of who Method is. And as long as we've existed, we've taken back old bins and if they're still in a usable state, we'll actually refurbish them and donate them to organisations that are not for profit, charities or other well meaning organisations because there's no point in recycling product if it's still usable. And if the products are beyond use, we send them back to our manufacturers who chip them down and turn them into new bins again. And this is a really amazing feat for us and it's taken us years to get here, but to have a recycling industry that's in disarray, and often in New Zealand, we've actually managed to create a circular product right here on our shores, as well as being able to ship recycled materials overseas. So we really know that we're able to make a significant impact in this area, and continue to do so.
We'll also continue to use our resources to educate those around us and help our clients to educate their team. There's a massive knowledge gap around what is recyclable, what we do with our recycling and where it goes at the end of life. So we always try to be transparent about where our materials come from, and try to help bridge gaps for what goes in bins and where it might end up. Because at the end of the day, sometimes it's about choosing the right product instead of choosing not to purchase. And at the end of the day, our customer success is our success. Intrinsically those two things are linked with our mission. We get to work with some amazing organisations and as we've seen today, a lot of people are very proud of their bins, whereas traditionally, that's not a thing that people were talking about. So it's really great to see people becoming empowered about recycling, and being able to use their strengths to push for change. So as I mentioned, Method's purpose in the beginning was based on the principles of design, which is really born out of the principles of our founders, Steven and India, really focusing on reducing waste, considering the lifetime impacts of everything that we produce, and really being human centric and behaviour changing in everything that we do to our products, in our office and with our shipping and using a considered thought process for all those actions. So as we strive to be the best in our industry, we believe the best thing we can do is to work with those who are best in their fields for our needs, such as some of the people on this wonderful call today. We try to find organisations that have similar values to us, such as our contract manufacturers who are introducing solar panels to help offset their electricity production, and chipping down our old bins to make new ones. B Corp in particular has been a really great tool for finding partners that have the same value for us, particularly B Corp in New Zealand, seeing such a close community of organisations, and knowing that while we may do completely different things at the end of the day, intrinsically our organisations bear down to a point where we're trying to use our business as a force for good and not seeing profit necessarily as a bad thing, but using it to push what we're doing even further.
So as Method is a small but mighty team, we're about 20 around the world, we know that the best thing we can do is use the voices and the skills of our team to further the purpose that's in that organisation. When Method became B Corp certified, I myself was a junior employee and worked with another junior employee to champion getting Method across the line. And it was quite a phenomenal task. But through that we got to find the areas we can improve and create plans for it. And now we get to see the impacts of that in the business today. And what we believe is that often purpose and drive already exists, in every business inside your employees, and if you enable your team to act upon that, then they can drive change while also feeling productive in the business, and that their values really matter. It's something that we say to our clients often, within an organisation of any size that there's usually at least one person who's really passionate about recycling and it's beneficial to everybody to allow them to express this in the workplace, create change and really empower the team. And ultimately, at the end of the day, we believe that sustainable business practices and purpose driven business practices are just good business and it's part of what's helped Method to grow around the world and become a real strategic pillar as we know what we stand for and the impact that we get to make. So that's me and I'll pass back to Kelly and a massive thanks to the entire team at Springload for organising this today.
Thank you so much, Lee. That's very kind. And yeah, what a fascinating talk that was. Beautiful circular products and I just love how you have, it's a waste collection product that causes no waste. And I'd like to be the first person to put my hand up to say that if you need anyone to eat ice cream and create more tubs and yeah, and some like really good pieces and some really good advice there for our webinar attendees about looking inward to your team for the purpose and drive that already exist in them and empowering them to to be able to go forward with that. I think that's a really great insight there to pass on to everybody. And yeah, so thank you very much. And next up, we have Robin Marshall, Head of Innovation and Impact at Springload. Over to you, Robin.
Tēnā koutou katoa. Hi. Can you see my presentation? I'll just pop it up. There we go. Yeah, hi, I'm Robin, I'm the Head of Innovation and Impact here, as Kelly just said. I was born in Scotland, but I've been living here in Aotearoa now for 15 years. And I think probably just wanted to express my gratitude for what an amazing place we live in with our treaty and our beautiful natural world world here in Aotearoa. So thanks for joining me. Let me tell you a little bit about what we do and who we are. Springload is a digital agency founded 18 years ago by our CEO Bron, who is on this call, you can see her circle there somewhere. And our mission is 'to make the things that matter, better'. So what that means is we use human centred technology to create websites and mobile apps and that's for customers including Massey University, Climate Change Commission, ACC, Xero, Kiwibank, Ministry of Education, and lots of other organisations, some, some large, some small. We're based here in Whanganui a Tara, in Wellington and we've slowly grown over the years to now about 75 employees. So, in 2018, we merged with another local tech business called Touchtech and that's how I fit into the picture. So I was one of the founders of that business. So, and the important thing about that merger was that that merger was successful because of our shared values. So at their essence that was just about very simply treating people with kindness and doing good work. But it's a great foundation for us to move forward from.
So we're pretty aware that the digital businesses are actually quite privileged when it comes to sustainability. We've got a really simple supply chain, we don't consume any base materials other than, you know, office equipment, coffee, craft beer, and, but we and we have the luxury of being in a growth industry. So paying a living wage is very easily achieved when you've got competitive industry rates. So the thing is, with that, though, is we can't use that as an opportunity to just be complacent and say, "Oh, this industry is fine". In actuality, this our industry, the digital industry has potential to be highly disruptive to people's lives and well being. And still, although Springload's doing really well here, our industry in general has a really poor gender representation with only 23% of our people identifying as female. And when it comes to when it comes to carbon, actually, that's interesting, too, because we're as guilty as any for flying to meetings and, you know, I think the industry generally likes to brush over the fact that actually the internet and all its associated gadgets have been reported to produce as much as 3.7% of global CO2 emissions. So every, every email, every image, every webpage, you know, that is consumed generates carbon and that percentage, that 3.7%, when you think that that that the airline industry is responsible for some similar figure, that's actually a significant share.
And so, we're able we're privileged to be able to address these things right now, in this hugely disrupted world thanks to COVID, because the you know, being a digital business, we're lucky to have come through in pretty good shape. Yeah, the digital technologies have also been identified by the United Nations, I'm sure you've seen the Sustainable Development Goals, or if you haven't, these are the sort of 17 areas where goals have been set for improvement in terms of sustainability around the world. And different sectors have different abilities to have impact on that and digital technologies, when used well, have one of the greatest technologies to impact. So if but if they're used irresponsibly, you know, we can displace people from their employment, we can erode people's privacy, we can use technology to drive a wedge between the diminishing rich and ever growing poor.
So, the question is, how do we balance that? How do we make sure that we are on the right track to drive us towards the shining future that we all want and not committing ourselves to a less equitable world? So well the way we see that is that we see digital technologies as an amplifier so that we can we can use digital technologies to amplify good or not so good, but we would rather choose good. And B Corp has been a really great framework for us to think through the various aspects of balancing purpose and profit. And it's given us some ideas of how we can deliver impact but also we use, you know, similar to some of the other presenters, we view our impact in sort of five prongs. So we've got role modelling which is becoming a B Corp and talking about it like today, and continually working on our diversity and inclusion and on our carbon footprint and talking about it. By the way we engage, choosing the people that we work with. By creating things that contribute to the community, so whether that's digital products or open source tools that we can share with the world. By partnering, so working with experts, sorry, working with organisations that and projects that create a better world and then finally supporting, which means sponsorship, or our reduced rate for social and environmental good projects. So gender diversity is something that we're particularly proud of at at Springload, the Springload whānau is far more representative of gender than the rest of our industry, which is really nice. And that's through a lot of hard work and careful experimentation with the recruitment process. And communicating clearly the business that we're trying to create to the people we're hiring. So we've pushed our business to have a much more representative gender diversity so we use techniques like salary moderation to ensure pay equity, and we have a programme called Grow, which you can see our cohort on the screen there, which is developed by our team to introduce women and non binary people who have never coded before or have very little experience in coding and to introduce them to the opportunities that a career in technology can bring. And that's a really interesting one from the merger too. So the two companies, at Touchtech we did had a group called Rails Girls and at Springload there was one called Django Girls and we joined those people together to create Grow, which was very cool. So, in terms of carbon, it's pretty amazing to think that Springload's now been carbon neutral since 2008. So with annual auditing taking place, we offset 100% of our primary carbon emissions and recently with the help of Carbon South, who hopefully you'll get to see talking today, we've been directing those offsets to projects which not only offset the carbon but have flow on effects to supporting communities in supporting communities. We also plant a native tree for every invoice that we send out so we are now proudly carbon negative or climate positive, and we do that with our partnership with Trees That Count. And I have to say that this work is work that our wonderful Clare Everett, who as I'm sure some of you know is on this call, has spearheaded and she's done an amazing job on that.
Perfection here is elusive, though. We're really aware that the websites and apps we produce for our clients create secondary emissions through their use. And one of the really interesting things that we learnt recently was that a software developer, just on a random piece of software that he worked on, realised that by reducing a file size by just 20 kilobytes, because it was being loaded on 2 million websites, that small change saved three tonnes of global carbon emissions. So you know, that's something that's an example of amplification. So small changes that we can do can be amplified to have huge impact. So this is an area that we're exploring at the moment, looking at how we can move more of our websites to be hosted in regions with sustainably generated power and produce websites that just consume less energy. And also, we also have Method recycling bins, just to complete the set. So yeah, choosing our clients is something that we do carefully. We've developed a client match matrix to make sure that the businesses we work with aren't only good for our bottom line, but also that they align to our values. We have to recognise that all active, all economic activity really has some negative effects and so we don't want to be working with those who are who are refusing to change their behaviour to address those negative effects. And we also champion accessibility of the websites we build to ensure that all people have equal access to them. So we do this by creating open source components and tools and sharing them with the global digital community so that they can do the same thing.
And staying ahead of the curve in our industry means experimenting with new technologies and methods, which is something I get to do and is really fun. And we get to do those experiments on self driven projects rather than just for our external clients. And so whenever we try and do whenever we do this, we try and find how we can find projects which create change for good. So, some examples of this would be a hack day where we invited people with projects in the social good space that we could help them push forward, we experimented with artificial intelligence to create a little tool that identified recyclable materials, and in the transition from level four to level three, we created a contact tracing tool for the Covid-19 pandemic ahead of the government one that was produced, just to help people get back to business safely. And so and, you know, we're looking now to experiment with improving digital inclusion for people with disabilities and projects to help drive a positive recovery for the Whanganui a Tara economy.
So we've still got a long way to go. The B Corp assessment has identified for us a whole bunch of areas for improvement, not just the ones that increase our points, actually, because I think someone mentioned a tick box, a box ticking exercise, we also don't want to see it as that, what we want to do is use it as a framework to find changes that we can make to our business to make it more awesome. And so we think we can truly make a difference if we choose to do the work that we that we have identified. And so particularly for us, that's improving our diversity to be more representative of society, the carbon stuff that I was talking about, and of course, looking to further change the way that governance is structured for the business to make sure that that purpose that we have is embedded into the company's future no matter what happens. So um, yeah, sorry, gone a little bit over, but I'd just like to sum up with a bit of a message of optimism. I think this movement, the B Corp movement is really gathering momentum. It's, it's great to have all these people here today and to hear it being talked about more and more. I think each successive generation of people is demanding more and more ethical and sustainable behaviour and, you know, I'm lucky to be exposed to new graduates and my children's friends and those and people that I come into contact with through work and family life who are younger than me, and I just, I can't help thinking there's this tidal wave of change coming and it's going to be hard for businesses to claim leadership in the space in the future. And I think that's great. You know, the world needs good strong leaders, but it also needs the people to hold them to account. So thank you very much.
Thank you so much, Robin, very inspiring talk there and yeah, some really great points for everybody and you know about, I think the I found the most fascinating thing the about the amplification that we're doing and yeah, something that you think might be a small change can actually have a large effect. So that's really something great for everybody to take away and consider consider from this webinar, I think and also around improving our diversity and inclusion at Springload. It was good for everybody to hear maybe, how about how we are going about that through our education and targeted advertising for our job roles. Yeahreally great, thanks, Robin. And I think next we will move on to more of our panel discussion, we're going to unpack a bit further and look into balancing profit with purpose and have you overcome any boundaries balancing purpose and profit. I thought we could maybe start with Brooke? I see that you're back in between naps, Brooke. Would you like to speak to that question?
Yeah, sure. I mean, um, I mean, so far on our journey it really hasn't felt like something we've had to really, really balance. You know, like everything that we've chosen to focus on, has been really for that purpose or like bringing our vision to life. We, you know, we more we're more a capital intensive business than a profitable business I guess. So, I guess for us the way we've looked at it more as like, where we raise our capital from and making sure that we're, when Sharesies is growing and we're raising capital that we're raising it from people who are really bought into our long term vision and, and really care about the B Corp values too and making sure that they're investing for a better future. And so like, we've been pretty targeted with who we've bought into this journey with us or not and I think that's probably helped. But in terms of like prioritising initiatives, you know, really it comes down to, you know, I believe, you know, you hear companies talk about, they've got to capitalise on that value. But I really believe that if you're creating value for customers and society, value will be created through that. And so that's really at the heart of how we prioritise I guess.
Excellent, thank you. I think there was a little question earlier that somebody had asked, how did you fund the initial six months research?
Ah taking me back hey! So part of that I was still, some of the founding team was still working at the campus we were working at that time, so that was Xero and Kiwibank. And then also we didn't earn any income at the start, but we joined an accelerator when we first started off and they gave us $20,000 so that, most of the research we did ourselves and then we were able to get access to this, like 3000 kiwis which helped kind of quantify the qualitative ethnographic research that we had done. I also saw a question from Emily, if you want me to answer that now too or should we? Regarding so yeah, we're offering all of the, we're offering you know, US shares, New Zealand share and Australian shares and the question was, so what, what are you doing? Are you only going to offer socially responsible investment options? And this is something we talked about a lot when we started Sharesies and continue to do too. But really, what we've found is that to be, there's environmental, social and governance criteria out there, but there's not a really clear standard that a lot of companies have implemented and so our plan is that we will offer all of the investment options, make it really clear which ones are really investing in their environmental, social and governance practices and and hopefully what we hope to see is that through the power of people investing in what they really care about and what they believe in, we will start to see the change. We also know that there are shareholder activist groups that actually go and target, say fossil fuel companies and really build up a collective there to help drive change from the inside. So our our ethos has always been to provide choice, but make sure that people really clearly understand what they're investing in. And that's our current stance on it.
Okay, thank you so much for that Brooke. And Laura, perhaps, would you like to speak to that question for Red Vespa overcoming any boundaries, balancing the purpose and profit?
Yeah, it's a it's a really interesting one. Because you kind of think about companies that have these kinds of purposes and you think that that's where all the money goes, but the reality is that you know, Red Vespa and everyone else, we have to be a profitable. company in the first place to be able to do the good. So we're super fortunate here that the Gibson Family Trust which owns Red Vespa are all intrinsically good people who want to who believe in Business for Good and they want to see that happen. So in terms of attitudes within the business, we haven't had those barriers to face, which has been awesome. And obviously, there's a financial implication to what we do, you know, things like carbon offsetting, you know, there is a cost for that, and we have to balance that out. So I think in terms of kind of making sure it all works, we just have to be really careful about how we plan each year and how we plan our work for the year. And yeah, I'm the kind of person who comes up with, sees a good idea and "I want to do it now, it's amazing!" We can't do that, we have to be realistic with the funds that we have available. And you know, of course this year, every business on the planet has probably taken a hit to one extent or another. And so we have to factor those things in. So I think it's just about being really, really careful with how we plan things and working out exactly what we want to do. And having our Business for Good values really helps us there as well because those are the areas that we can focus on without kind of getting distracted by things that are outside of that.
Fascinating, thank you very much, Laura. And Lee, perhaps you would like to speak to that question on behalf of Method.
Excuse me. Yes. And as I mentioned before, we generally believe that sustainable business practices are just good business. And when it really comes down to it you barely, probably really sit down and go, okay, is it purpose or profit? It's built into the way we do things and the way we consider our options. Because at the end of the day, profit isn't just money in the bank, it's an engaged workforce, it's creating advocates with your customers and and all those other things that tie into what makes a business and that without profit, we wouldn't be able to invest back into the systems that we're a part of and continue to grow and improve and invest in our communities. So it's really a matter of how your business thinks, rather than a dichotomy of 'is it purpose or is it profit?'
Thank you, Lee. That was great. And, yeah, Robin, on behalf of Springload yeah, would you like to speak to the question?
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's an interesting one, because I remember someone saying to me, once, you know, if it's if it's hard to stick to your values, then they're not really your values. And I think that's, that's really true. So, for us, yes. It's just good business to treat our staff well, that's a really big part of what we believe in is that if you treat people well then the rewards will come. Also that, you know, when choosing who we work with, which is a big part of where we can control how we use these digital superpowers to amplify good or bad, we have to be quite selective about that. On the projects that we work on that's, and that's been really interesting. So we've turned down a couple of very large customers recently, where we just didn't feel that the the values were something that we could, that we wanted to be promoting. And what I was really pleased to see that was during the recent Covid pandemic, that question came up again, and, you know, people working in senior leadership who are looking at assessing that it's pretty much unanimous that, you know, everyone agrees that, that the values are very important. So I think that's I think that's critical. I think as time goes on as well, and I think I saw Lee touching on this a bit before is, I think the future, we're going to see changes in our economic systems that encourages good behaviour. It's quite interesting just to see when you look at, say financial markets and some of the businesses that haven't gone well recently, they're sort of not necessarily sustainable businesses either. And so I think as I like to think that as time goes on, that we'll see businesses which engage in the kind of circular economy that that reduce their impact will be more profitable businesses in the long term and they'll deliver better outcomes, not just financially but in all those other capital, social capital and natural capital as well. Yeah.
Fascinating. Thank you, Robin. Really picking up on yeah, just sticking to your values. Sounds like a really good top tip from everybody you know? And yeah, and it gives you a strong foundation and a good base to keep going. And yes, we only have two minutes of our session left, and we have a few questions and I also need to do a little wrap up as well. So I think that the best thing for us to do will be we will answer any questions after the session and just email you all a link to a little video of that so you've got all of your learnings and specific questions answered that you would like to take away. And yes, for our wrap up I would just like to say thank you so much to all of our speakers,you're so inspiring and you're yes, some wonderful advice and information for everybody to take away and think about and hopefully people can get some, some inspiration and I've got some really practical things that they can take for their own businesses and companies or just their personal lives as well. I am feeling incredibly inspired right now. And yeah, and some yeah, great insights, information inspiration. And perhaps we'll see some of our attendees at our other webinars that we are running all throughout the day. And we'd also love for you to join us for a few drinks and nibbles in our Splringload event space that we are running from 5pm today. We will just post the link in the chat to that if you would like to get a ticket. And of course, we will have our Method bins, beautifully collecting our waste for them and we've got Dignity in our female toilets. We are going to be providing some beer from and the B Corp company Sawmill, and we've got Garage Project beer from the CoGo app who is, CoGo are also another B Corp. And most importantly, our lovely B Corp community will be there on hand and on hand to answer all of your questions. And yes, so feel free just to click on the link we've just posted and you can get yourself a ticket for that. And cool. That's everything. Thank you very much. And if you're keen to learn more about being a B Corp you can head on over to bcorporation.net. And I think we've got a link posted in the chat for that too. And yeah, thanks again, everybody. We are bang on time at 11:20. And maybe see some of you for the next session.
Cool. Thanks for coming! Bye guys.
Thank you. Thanks, everyone. That was amazing!