Thought, Word, Deed. The Critical Nature of Consistency

Natalie Simmons
September 8, 2022

From the beginning of time a person’s word was their bond. To be true to your word meant you could be trusted. We were measured by our word. It directly influenced our standing in society.  While we’re a long way from pistols at dawn these days, there’s still a societal understanding of a promise in a handshake. Binding deals are still struck on the back of a napkin.

It stands to reason then, that when an organisation emblazons its landing page with a net zero target, or an ESG mission statement, that this is their bond – a promise to act on a new way forward. And these organisations know that they will be held to account by their people, their customers, and their shareholders.

Thoughts & words are the precursors, it is in the Deeds however that we find the first steps of impact.  A brave stance can be conceived anywhere by anyone. The infectious nature of brave leadership can quickly turn into a movement under the right conditions. There’s your thought, and your word. But it’s the deed part that counts and it would be fair to say can more often than not be the most challenging. But it is what you do that makes the difference.  Much like the old adage of you can talk the talk but you have to walk the walk.   It’s a no-brainer, but I’m constantly surprised by the number of companies that get this bit wrong.

On the bright side though, those companies that are getting this right are growing and there are companies out there setting the standard for how best to live their purpose while continuing to grow. Clothing and lifestyle brand Patagonia is one of those companies. In the year they advertised for people not to buy a new Patagonia jacket in favour of a recycled one, its revenue grew by 30%. Evidence enough that sustainable practice and good business can coexist. And this is just one example of where organisations can win and live up to the trust expected of them.

"Caring for our planet is not in conflict with running a successful business.”
- Rose Marcario, CEO, Patagonia

Think of it this way: the entire financial system is one based on trust. We trust that the twenty-dollar bill in our wallet will be accepted at the corner store. We trust that our employer will electronically deposit our pay into our account on time. We rely on our banking app to have a precise view of our finances. You get the picture. In his famous book Sapiens, author and academic Yuval Noah Harare puts it this way –

“More than 90 percent of all money—more than $50 trillion appearing in our accounts—exists only on computer servers. Most business transactions are executed by moving electronic data from one computer file to another, without any exchange of physical cash… Thanks to money, even people who don’t know each other and don’t trust each other can nevertheless cooperate effectively.”

I think we have a lot to learn from this example when it comes to being true to our word. And one thing providing the transparency required to keep organisations true to their word – one innovation driving accountability across carbon emissions targets and bringing transparency to ESG progress, is data. Data doesn’t lie.

What does this mean for any organisation looking to shift to a more ‘purpose-led’ stance? Companies are already tracking their progress using a range of systems available to them. Soon it may be mandatory. This year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have proposed that public companies start including carbon and climate risk data in annual reports among other regulatory requirements.

Why would an organisation do this anyway? While it will drive bottom line results, more loyal customers and a happier workforce, I believe that it’s the idea of legacy that is the best possible driver for change. The data is flooding in on employees, customers and shareholders alike holding companies to a higher standard. People are searching for careers where their carbon output narrative is a good one. Customers are shifting their mindset to a more environmentally aware state. This is directly reflected in their buying habits. Last but not least, sustainable investing globally has exploded to a $US35 trillion market. This number is projected to keep growing at a rapid pace - indicating a future driven by profit with purpose.

The tailwinds are there for companies to walk the talk. Barefoot Citizens Consulting exists to help organisations discover the purpose that will energise employees, grow business, and create a lasting legacy to be proud of. Underpinned by engaging programs we help you create an environment to turn your purpose into everyday deeds.

At Barefoot Citizens Consulting we believe that:

Purpose Drives People, People Build Communities & Communities Change the World.

Get in touch today to talk about mobilising your organisation to create greater impact.