Be the Butterfly. You Don’t have to be Patagonia to make a difference.

Natalie Simmons
October 12, 2022

When I saw the headlines a few weeks ago concerning Patagonia’s owners Yvon Chouinard and family transferring the entirety of the company to a perpetual trust and non-profit organisation, I couldn’t really believe it. And then again I could. I refer to Patagonia a lot. The brand represents a gold standard when it comes to corporate purpose. And now, this brand that I have respected for so long has gone one step further than I thought any brand could. The annual profits - around $100 million - of this $3 billion company will be used to fight climate change. The legacy of the brand will live on for generations to come. It’s easy to see how this will benefit everyone, whether you shop the brand or not. A hundred million goes a long way.

The act itself raises a lot of questions for the rest of us. How can individuals, workgroups, and smaller businesses compete with that!? We can’t all give our companies away. What about listed entities? How can they respond in any meaningful way when the share price rules the day? Purpose isn’t a competition. We know that. But it can be daunting not knowing where to start.  Especially when we see the idea of Purpose now being recognised as a key driver of competitive advantage. The validity of Purpose is being proven through bottom line results, loyal customers and a committed workforce.

The impact of bold ESG policy is manifold. There’s little doubt that ESG and Purpose can bring very clear and defined positive environmental and social benefits. However there are also a growing number of case studies where the financial advantages are being realised.

Take HP for example. Their ambitious net zero targets announced in 2021 are far from empty promises and PR fluff. Clearly defined strategic transformation is at play. The results outlined in their Sustainability Impact Report are inspiring, especially $3.5 billion in new sales where sustainability was an influencing factor.

At Barefoot Citizens Consulting, we have a saying - ‘Be the butterfly’. What it means is that anyone can decide to make a difference, at any time, in any business. The more butterflies there are, the stronger the momentum for change and the bigger the impact. Small changes, ideas around the water cooler, and creating new ways to do things, can make a big difference over time.

The Mini Woolies program, a partnership between Woolworths and Fujitsu, began in 2018 and saw the creation of small-scale stores in 12 schools and specialist recruitment centres that catered for students with additional needs. Students learn valuable skills with a view to gaining the necessary experience and confidence to potentially enter the workforce. The success of the program, will see a further 25 stores open in schools and learning centres around Australia this coming year. 

A growing number of reputable voices are all saying the same thing - these are economically challenging times. The usual soundbites are on high rotation: “the threat of a global recession”, “a soaring US dollar”, “rampant inflation” et cetera. I’m not downplaying any of these, but lesser heard voices of the upside, like those of Rima Bhatia, Group Economic Adviser, Gulf International Bank explore an upside - where strong Purpose has a place.

“Businesses have to change. This has been the story since the pandemic started…(They can)  no longer continue on the path that they were at. That’s the opportunity and that’s the silver lining.”

This is where we come in. Barefoot Citizens Consulting helps organisations discover, discuss, understand and implement an authentic sense of Purpose.  

To put it simply we make Profit with Purpose, Possible.  

We believe that all businesses are unique and as such, create an opportunity for a tailored approach to the creation of impact.  There is no one size fits all. The common denominator is partnership and should be the starting point.

31 years ago Paul Kelly’s song, From Little Things Big Things Grow began its journey as one of the most famous protest songs in Australia.  It tells the story of the successful Gurindji Wave Hill Station strike and conveys the theme of justice for all and the idea that from small beginnings great things can be achieved.  

The spirit of the message is still relevant to the current fight for indigenous recognition. It also resonates with the idea of Purpose. Literally anyone can be a catalyst for change - personally and professionally. 

So be the Butterfly and remember that small acts create waves of change.

If you want to enter a partnership where profit with Purpose is made possible, get in touch with Barefoot Citizens Consulting today