I must admit it felt strange working on this report during the pandemic – reflecting on our achievements in 2019 when the world felt like it had completely changed. Did this make the report irrelevant? Not at all–but it did force us to pause and reflect on what was important – both personally and professionally. The title of the report “Toward a Shared & Durable Prosperity” was aspirational–these goals are more relevant than ever. What follows are some reflections on writing a report when the world has turned upside down.
Lessons From Preparing an Annual Report in a Pandemic
- Purpose Matters More than Ever. As a Certified B Corporation we know the value of purpose – it’s what sets B Corps apart from other companies. In fact the title of the report was inspired by the B Corp motto of “a shared a durable prosperity”. This resonates more than ever as the pandemic is shining a light on those two themes – durability and sharing. Businesses that are durable – built on solid business models that take care of people and planet are the ones that will survive. Sharing is something that comes naturally to B Corps; its in their corporate DNA.
- Strong Relationships Matter More than ever. Our existence as a company is built on relationships – with our customers, our staff, our vendors, our board and our communities. Nothing we accomplished in 2019 was possible without these trusted partnerships. In the midst of the pandemic, these relationships will be absolutely vital to survival.
- Be Self Sufficient, but not Sufficient in yourself. The pandemic has exposed the fragility of modern business–from the danger of long supply lines now suddenly cut or just in time inventory that seems like a very risky strategy. A lot of businesses will start to look at returning to some old fashioned values of being self sufficient – whether this means making more things in your own shop, having more inventory on hand and more cash in the bank – even if this is the opposite of what they taught in business school. Another old fashion value will hopefully also make a comeback — looking out for our neighbours and people in our communities who are struggling to get by.
- Not Business As Usual. When the world stopped at the beginning of the pandemic a lot of people were able to stop and listen and think about what was important. Covid has exposed the inequities in society-low income and racialized communities have been hit much harder; we need to address this as part of the recovery. There are many variations of the “Just Recovery” –but it boils down to rebuilding our economy to provide for the needs of all while living within the Earth’s planetary boundaries. Oh yeah, and not killing ourselves working 60 hour weeks!
- Focus on Value Creation. One thing the <Integrated Reporting> format does really well is show how the six capitals–manufactured, financial, human, social, intellectual and natural–are used to create value. Every company needs to know what they do well and focus on that; and then pivot to serve new markets exposed by the pandemic. For Ecotone our focus is on bringing a sustainability lens to our client’s software implementation projects as documented in this interview with Chris Henry about our role in The Centre for Social Innovation’s digital transformation project.
- Blurring of Professional and Personal. By now we’ve all seen most of our colleagues children on various Zoom calls; lets just admit that we are all human beings with personal lives. Its time to stop splitting ourselves in two before walking into the office. We need to bring our whole selves to work; there may be some baggage but there is a whole lot of creativity and passion that we’ve been leaving at home. And if the trend to more remote work takes hold-it will be about bringing our work selves home!
- Self Care. Now more than ever we need to take care of our bodies and our minds. That is why Ecotone is a proud founding member of The Roots Collaborative, a co-op of sustainability professionals focused on integrating personal wellness with sustainability.
So thank you for taking the time for me to explain how our 2019 Integrated Report is still relevant; I hope it was convincing. Now I hope you will read it! But more importantly I hope it will spur you to action –how can you make your company better while serving your community and protecting our planet. It comes back to purpose; what are we put on Earth to do?
Finally, I wish to thank everyone who made this report possible – our customers, our staff, our board, and our fellow travelers on the road to flourishing. And finally a big thank you to our marketing partners – Hobe Hosokawa – for their great work on strategic communications and graphic design.
Tout est possible…