Why everyone can now make a change in your business (Polar Bear story)

Robin Hawksworth - December 11th 2017

I had a conversation this weekend with my wife after we had both been moved by an image and video of this starving dying polar bear. It was heart breaking but at the same time a kick in the arses for us to actually act alongside the global millions who had also shared/watched on that very same day. While we personally could not save that bear, we could think about the chain of events, that we could have inadvertently been part of, that led to this sad story.


Before I proceed, this article is not about whether you believe in global warming or not, neither is to ask your opinion on the need to act to save the many species under threat. No, it is about asking you to think about and recognise how a piece of shared information can highlight an issue at lighting speed and quickly form global opinion. As your business also inhabits this same connected ecosystem, how it acts in relation to it's community and use of global resources has never been more important or the need to communicate this well.


If you sit and think that you are immune to this then I can assure you, you are not!


Consumer habits now dictate your success and direction not just your innovation of product.


  • Shopping malls once beat-up the small high street stores, Amazon is now knocking the shopping malls out.


  • Five years ago, no one wanted a Tesla, today they pre-sell all they make.... forcing every car company in the world to change alongside government regulations as well as fuelling stations.


  • The #metoo movement has changed Hollywood, politics, cultural thinking and even your own workplace. 'Time' magazines person of the year too.


  • The smart phone introduced us to the selfie that now allows our children to compete in a daily battle of popularity. This is a ticking time bomb of mental health and self esteem issues on a scale not seen before. Will this lead to a change in social-media company behaviour? I think so.


And you, personally how do you act?...... You are not only a business leader but also a consumer along side your family. How you collectively decide to live, what to spend your money on and how you invest in the future will mould the very companies you want to do business with. The last 30 years of the 'disposable culture' is being challenged in many countries, not because of governments or marketing campaigns but by the consumers simply choosing not to 'live it' any longer. Cheap clothes and electronics that fail after a few uses are being replaced with longer lasting products from smaller local boutiques or even the rise in up-cycling. From refusing disposable straws to how we seek out fresh locally produced food is changing many businesses.


While I do understand that seeing a horrific picture of a starving polar bear can easily be dismissed by many as a far away concern, finding small micro-balls of plastic in their supermarket purchased Salmon will not be.


Globally we are reaching a tipping point about how much we actually do care about the way companies act in regard to their policies and ethical standards. We have often paid lip service to this in the past, while continuing to buy their cheap products. The future seems very different as the thinking process that got us to this point is changing for many people. You may have noticed the queue for the latest Apple products becomes dramatically shorter with each new iteration.


As far as politics is concerned, most people no longer leave the policing of companies to politicians as they feel that they are in fact corrupted by the lobbying money they receive to turn a blind eye to their actions.


We all need to start realising this and revisiting all aspects of our business as we look to where we want it to to be in five years time. As all our information can so easily be shared these days, we all need to place more of an emphasis on real ethical standards. It takes one mistake or a few bad stories shared from a few smart phone to highlight them to the world. The time is not for donating more to charities, producing false photo opportunities or creatively manipulating how you operate.... it is about really caring for your customers, your company and our shared resources.


The future is in globally co-ordinated individual consumer action...


So why should you really care?


Because not only does a polar bears survival depend on you (and me), so does your companies, your family and our collective future! If you are not willing to take this as seriously as your customers then they will no longer be that....your customers.


Thank you for reading my thoughts. As always please leave a comment below and join the conversation. Alternatively send me a message on twitter @rdhawksworth or through my website below.



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