Reporting for Positive Change: Communicate

How to leverage the content beyond the sustainability report

Once the sustainability report has been created and approved, it’s time to really communicate about the report (content). This is a key step that is sometimes overlooked. Unless you created the sustainability report only for compliance reasons (or to prop up your computer screen), involve your communications teams and channels to proudly share your results and your report.

Go back to your reason why for creating a sustainability report in the first place. Who are the key people you want to reach? Will they read a full report, or do you need to create bite size portions or a summary to engage them? Can you create short social media items to share report highlights and/or draw people to the report? That also makes it easier for your employees to share stories they are personally proud of.

And just like the full report content, this is a perfect opportunity to look forward and share your ambitions, rather than only looking back. And strive for balance, sharing what went well and what you’ve learned from things that didn’t go so well.

Last but not least, you took months to create the report, so make sure you create a nice drumbeat to share parts of the sustainability report with key stakeholders in the weeks (or even months) after its release.

“To create awareness for the sustainability strategy, we launched the report with an event at our headquarters,” says Cecile Theunissen, Sustainability Manager at Appèl Catering. “To reach our restaurant teams, we also launched a series of short posts on our internal online platform. This generated many positive reactions, questions and ideas!” Yvette Moll, Communications Director at retailer Action shares: “For most employees and consumers the English full Update2019 is quite a tough read. So we created summary pages in our local languages to share the key results with these important stakeholders.”

Once the report content has been communicated, it’s time to evaluate and celebrate. Start by collecting reactions from readers and key people in the organization. What do they like about the sustainability report? And where do they see room for improvement?

Then get the core team together to reflect on the reporting journey. What went well? What did we learn from the things that did not go as well as we expected? How can we make the process easier next year? And to avoid the time crunch at the end of the process, when should we start the next reporting cycle? Assuming the core team is still on speaking terms at this point in time, don’t forget to go out and celebrate the teamwork and the resulting sustainability report!

“We delivered the 2019 sustainability report in a very condensed timeframe,” says Kelly Rijsdijk of Albert Heijn. “Next year we’ll start earlier and from the evaluation, we also have lots of ideas on how to reduce the reporting burden on key content owners.” Sabrina Simons , Serious Communications Manager at chocolate impact company Tony’s Chocolonely adds: “Every year we do a thorough evaluation of the reporting process. This really helps us raise the bar on the report and improve the process for the years to come.”

This is the final blog in this reporting series. Want more personalized guidance than our blogs provide? Consider joining our reporting webinar (2 Oct) or our reporting workshop (29 Oct) in Amsterdam. 

This blog is part of The Terrace’s series on Reporting for Positive Change. Sustainability reporting can be a vital process to support the sustainability strategy within in a company. Yet often, this isn’t the case. Companies report on positive change – rather than reporting for positive change. Every year we support many companies and other organizations on their sustainability reporting journey. In this blog series, we share key learnings - from across our reporting projects and clients.


Reporting for Positive Change: Create

How to successfully develop copy and creative elements for your sustainability report

Once the collection process is well on its way, it’s time to really start creating the upcoming sustainability report. There are two key elements to this phase, which ideally run in tandem: copywriting and creative development.

Good sustainability reports tell a well-rounded story yet are focused and concise at the same time. Instead of detailing everything in the report, is there relevant content on the website to which you can link? Can you place the content in function of the future, rather than just on the past? And don’t forget to tell a balanced story, not shying away from challenges and areas in which you’re lagging behind your goals. And be sure to place the sustainability report in its relevant context.

Develop an overall creative concept to make the report engage the key stakeholders. This goes beyond the tone of voice and the look and feel – find a central theme to bring the content to life for a broad range of stakeholders. A concept that can take your report content beyond the report.

Ensure the copywriter(s) and creative(s) work together as a team. Design for online reading, with interactive elements and easy navigation. Align visuals with the brand and corporate identity. And if at all possible, don’t start on layout until the copy has been signed off. However, a very useful and visual tool to use in this step of the process is a joint review of the extended page plan. Collate the key content for each page, including rough text and ideas for key visuals, such as photos, graphs, infographics, into a mockup report. With the core team, review this page by page, to highlight what you still need to collect and create.

The most stressful step during this phase may well be the approval process. So be sure to plan ahead during the earlier phases. Get your focus (or material) topics and page plan signed off by senior management early on in the process. Expect the approvers to have input (they always do!) – but you can significantly reduce stress by planning for it and by involving them along the sustainability reporting journey.

Valérie de Boer, Communications Advisor at NGO Cordaid shares: “Our Annual Report gets better every year. Last year, we made major strides by taking it from a print-oriented format to an interactive pdf, which reads and navigates like a website. This helps us better engage our key stakeholders with our programs, challenges, and results.”

Once the sustainability report has been created and approved, it’s time to really communicate about the report (content).

Want more personalized guidance than our blogs provide? Consider joining our reporting webinar (2 Oct) or our reporting workshop (29 Oct) in Amsterdam. 

This blog is part of The Terrace’s series on Reporting for Positive Change. Sustainability reporting can be a vital process to support the sustainability strategy within in a company. Yet often, this isn’t the case. Companies report on positive change – rather than reporting for positive change. Every year we support many companies and other organizations on their sustainability reporting journey. In this blog series, we share key learnings - from across our reporting projects and clients.


How to ease content collection for your sustainability report

How to ease content collection for your sustainability report

Once you’ve chosen and aligned the focus of the sustainability report, it’s time to collect the content for the upcoming report. This is the stage in the reporting journey where you may need to engage a lot of people throughout the organization. Be sure to make your requests as specific as possible, making it very clear exactly what you need by when. As relevant, share the page plan, so people understand how their content fits in with the rest of the sustainability report. Check in with content owners to understand in what format data is available more easily.

This is often a quite frustrating step in the process, as it may turn out that the organization is not quite ready to measure progress against key goals. For those KPIs not yet available, don’t try to fix it all for the upcoming report. Especially first time around, focus on what is available and commit to ensure you do capture the relevant data for the next sustainability report!

In this phase, don’t just focus on the data. You also need to collect stories, quotes, anecdotes and pictures that make the sustainability data come to life. Again, be as specific as possible when requesting this type of information, clarifying things like the number of words and the resolution of pictures.

Says Valérie de Boer, Communications Advisor at NGO Cordaid: “Year on year we get better at requesting and collecting the report content and data. This year we made real progress through better alignment with the Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation and Finance teams.” Yvette Moll, Communications Director at retailer Action shares: “After mapping the required visuals and photos against what was available already, it was very efficient to plan one photoshoot for the remaining photos.”

Once the collection process is well on its way, it’s time to really start creating the upcoming sustainability report. This will be the topic of our next reporting blog.

Want more personalized guidance than our blogs provide? Consider joining our reporting webinar (2 Oct) or our reporting workshop (29 Oct) in Amsterdam. 

This blog is part of The Terrace’s series on Reporting for Positive Change. Sustainability reporting can be a vital process to support the sustainability strategy within in a company. Yet often, this isn’t the case. Companies report on positive change – rather than reporting for positive change. Every year we support many companies and other organizations on their sustainability reporting journey. In this blog series, we share key learnings - from across our reporting projects and clients.


How to leverage external and internal perspectives for focus: Choose

How to leverage external and internal perspectives for focus

Once the sustainability reporting journey has been connected and planned, it’s time to bring the outside in by engaging key stakeholders. Of course, you are creating the report to share your vision and progress, but if you are aware of what stakeholders care about, you can take this into consideration. Both in what you include in the sustainability report and in how you engage with these stakeholders around and beyond the report.

Start by making a list of your key stakeholders – inside and outside the organization. Who are they and why do you consider them a key stakeholder? How do you already engage with them? Can you integrate the topic of sustainability (reporting) into these regular conversations, surveys, etc.? If not, what would be a good way to discuss with them what their expectations are regarding your sustainability strategy and reporting?

Whatever format you choose, be sure to ask them about the key topics you identified. And be open to additional suggestions from their side. Don’t just fire questions at them, but really listen and ask follow-up questions to deepen your understanding of their concerns and ideas. And it may be very tempting, but this is not the time to sell your own ideas, to try to convince people of your vision and focus.

Cecile Theunissen, Sustainability Manager at Appèl Catering shares their experience: “Conducting these interviews was a really interesting experience for us. Especially the internal interviews; they not only fueled our thinking, but they also enlarged the engagement with the sustainability strategy.” Sabrina Simons, Serious Communication Manager at chocolate impact company Tony’s Chocolonely says: “Every year, we collect hundreds of responses from our choco fans, retailers, suppliers and other stakeholders through an online survey around our annual FAIR report. From all over the world, people help us understand their priorities and concerns, mainly around our mission to make slavery-free the norm in the chocolate industry.”

What will be the key topics to cover in the report, connected to your (sustainability) strategy, your value chain, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) you’ve committed to? Is there a central theme emerging already? Are there certain benchmarks or guidelines you want to meet with the report (like the GRI Standards, the Transparency Benchmark or the UNGC Communication on Progress)? Not so sure what the topics should be yet? Then check out some sustainability reports from other companies in your industry, and don’t forget to browse the reports of key customers and suppliers.

Once the stakeholder insights have been captured, it’s time to select the key topics for the upcoming sustainability report. To provide focus and alignment for the rest of the reporting journey. In this phase, the materiality matrix can be a useful tool to plot the stakeholder interests against those of the company. We strongly recommend doing this with a multi-disciplinary team, ideally including senior managers.

Materiality axes

On the horizontal axis, you can also plot the impact of the company. This actually is the better way to select the key (or material) topics for your sustainability strategy or report. But if it’s your first reporting journey or you’re crunched for time, the importance for the company is a really good starting point.

Once you’ve chosen the key topics, be sure to get them signed off by senior management to avoid any misalignment on focus later on in the process. Ideally, each topic is already embedded in your sustainability strategy, and has clear KPIs, with concrete goals and an approach to reach them. If not, creating this for each topic can be a goal in itself for the year ahead. Last but not least in this phase is the creation of a page plan, in which you capture the flow of the report. At this point in time, this usually takes the shape of a table. What will be the key chapters, what topics will be covered in each chapter and how much space will you a lot to them? Is there a central theme you’d like to use for this year’s report?

Yvette Moll, Communications Director at non-food discounter Action describes their materiality process: “The core reporting team first plotted the vertical axis based on a series of presentations about the stakeholder insights. We then used the corporate strategy and the Action Sustainability Strategy to plot the same topics along the horizontal axis. In a second workshop, we aligned the focus topics with our executive board.”

Once you’ve chosen and aligned the focus of the report, it’s time to collect the content for the upcoming report. This will be the topic of our next reporting blog.

Want more personalized guidance than our blogs provide? Consider joining our reporting webinar (2 Oct) or our reporting workshop (29 Oct) in Amsterdam. 

This blog is part of The Terrace’s series on Reporting for Positive Change. Sustainability reporting can be a vital process to support the sustainability strategy within in a company. Yet often, this isn’t the case. Companies report on positive change – rather than reporting for positive change. Every year we support many companies and other organizations on their sustainability reporting journey. In this blog series, we share key learnings - from across our reporting projects and clients.


Reporting Blog: Connect

Why its key to connect with your strategy and colleagues early on

This blog is part of The Terrace’s series on Reporting for Positive Change. Sustainability reporting can be a vital process to support the sustainability strategy within in a company. Yet often, this isn’t the case. Companies report on positive change – rather than reporting for positive change. Every year we support many companies and other organizations on their sustainability reporting journey. In this blog series, we share key learnings - from across our reporting projects and clients.

As with any project, always start with why! What is the purpose of the report? How will it contribute to the implementation of your sustainability strategy? Who are the people you’d like to engage with the report? What would they ideally think or do after reading (parts of) it? How do you best connect them to the report content?

Often, companies start reporting for compliance reasons, yet there are also many positive reasons to create a sustainability report. Says Cecile Theunissen, Sustainability Manager at Appèl Catering: “As a family-owned business, we do not have a lot of reporting obligations Yet we’re proud of our sustainability strategy and progress, and an engaging report would help us tell our story to our catering staff, clients and prospects.” Cornelie den Otter, Marketing and Communications Officer at Fairtrade and organic fruit importer Agrofair, adds a different angle: “Our sustainability reports capture our sustainability vision and performance in a structured and inspiring way for our sales team, so they can easily share it with current and prospective clients.”

Once you know why you want to report, it’s time to connect with your colleagues. This is the phase to develop a joint timeline for your sustainability report and to determine who the people are that need to be involved along the reporting journey. Who will be the owner of the reporting process? Who needs to provide key content? Who needs to sign off on the focus, the copy, the visuals? How does the timeline fit with relevant others, like the financial reporting cycle? “Each year, we start planning the Annual Report process around October”, says Valérie de Boer, Communications Advisor at NGO Cordaid, “planning every step along the way, including rounds of input and sign-off by the Board of Directors and the accountant.”

What will be the key topics to cover in the report, connected to your (sustainability) strategy, your value chain, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) you’ve committed to? Is there a central theme emerging already? Are there certain benchmarks or guidelines you want to meet with the report (like the GRI Standards, the Transparency Benchmark or the UNGC Communication on Progress)? Not so sure what the topics should be yet? Then check out some sustainability reports from other companies in your industry, and don’t forget to browse the reports of key customers and suppliers.

Once the reporting journey has been connected and planned, it’s time to collect input and insights from key stakeholders.

Want more personalized guidance than our blogs provide? Consider joining our reporting webinar (2 Oct) or our reporting workshop (29 Oct) in Amsterdam. 


Photo Blog Marjolein Baghuis

Saving people and planet starts at breakfast - by Marjolein Baghuis

"We are both the flood and the ark. No one but us will destroy the planet, and no one except us will save it." Powerful words from Jonathan Safran Foer's book We are the weather, saving the planet begins at breakfast. As humanity is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder: can we save people and save the planet at the same time?

Never waste a good crisis

The word crisis stems from the Greek word krinein: "to separate, decide, judge." And while we may not always be able to determine the outcome of a crisis, our decisions in a crisis reveal who we are. We show our true selves by figuring out what we're capable of letting go of. This applies to climate change as well as the current pandemic. Recognition of what's really important helps us to keep trying. To not give up after the first attempt to eat less/no meat or to not rebel after the first week of lockdown. The trouble is, that while decision-makers excellently frame what's at stake during the COVID-19 pandemic, they don't consistently do this for the looming climate crisis.

Structure for collective action

Just three months ago, who would have thought that large parts of the world could be locked up? People are sticking to the measures because the daily reporting of deaths makes us all feel fragile. And because governments make clear what's expected of them. (Of course, this is grossly overgeneralizing the reality, but I think you see what I mean.) While we all had high hopes that the Paris Climate Agreement would lead to collective to halt climate change, the truth is that instead, we're lagging behind these commitments, collectively. In some countries, NGOs have even successfully sued the national government for not taking enough action against climate change.

Let's hope governments learn from the current crisis to prepare effective measures to halt climate change. To frame the urgency and to invest in what's needed, rather than what's the easiest course of action to secure reelection in the short term. Helping citizens make better decisions for people and planet.

Options for individual action

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Of course, none of us have to wait for collective action plans and government measures. In Safran Foer's book, he lists four actions everyone can take to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint:

  1. Switch to a plant-based diet;
  2. Avoid air-travel;
  3. Get rid of your car;
  4. Have fewer kids.

What sets the first action apart from the rest of this list is that what you choose to eat is a decision you take many times, every day. The author's plea is for everyone to stick to vegan food for breakfast and lunch, at the very least. He admits finding it a challenge at times. Yet in the end, it's better for the environment to be an inconsistent vegan, than to only eat vegan or vegetarian food every once in a while.

When I heard him talk about this at the book launch in Amsterdam, I was quite surprised that he was cutting himself and his readers this much slack. But I must admit that I too find it hard to keep vegan during lunch, even though I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years. But I'm sure I've cut my animal protein footprint - and hence my greenhouse gas emissions since I started trying!

Accelerating the protein revolution

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The pandemic adds another dimension to the discussion about animal-based protein and the need for a protein revolution. Animal welfare, climate change, and individual health problems were already part of the debate, but it now becomes painfully clear that our collective health, our society, and the economy are at stake as well. Pandemics are often caused by diseases that spread from animals to humans.

So as we build back a better world post-COVID-19, let's include a move towards more plant-based protein. Let's create a new normal where we no longer spend taxpayers' money to support livestock farming. Greenpeace research estimates that, up to now, nearly a fifth of the EU's budget goes to livestock farming. If instead, that money is directed at more future-proof ventures, we'd be better off in many ways. The European Green Deal added "From Farm to Fork" in May 2020. It strives to create a healthy food environment that makes it easier to choose healthy and sustainable food options. The current pandemic makes the need for positive change even more clear.

What positive change are you driving?

I’ve been meaning to write this blog since Jonathan Safran Foer was in Amsterdam to launch the book in September 2019. By the time I’d finished reading the book, I felt the corona-environment would not be the best time to blog about climate change and protein.

Until one of my favorite columnists, Ionica Smeets, linked the pandemic to Eating Animals, one of his earlier books. That helped kickstart me into blogging mode again, with the new normal providing all kinds of topics to blog about for positive change! What kind of change are you hoping for - or better yet driving - off the back of this crisis? How can you connect saving people and planet for positive change?

This blog first appeared on changeincontext.com. Photo credits: Anna ShvetsElla OlssonNoelle Otto


De toekomst van positive change - Blog Leontine Gast (2/2)

Hoe kunnen we nog meer positive change bereiken in de toekomst? Deze blog is gebaseerd op de speech die Leontine Gast gaf tijdens de gelegenheid van ons 10-jarig bestaan op 7 november 2017. In haar vorige blog keek Leontine terug op het ontstaan van The Terrace in 2007. Hier kijkt ze juist naar de toekomst van positive change aan de hand van haar eigen wensenlijstje –vier wensen.

Toekomst

Op vele gebieden is positieve verandering urgent: wij richten ons vooral op voeding, textiel en energie. Ik had 10 jaar geleden al haast, inmiddels is er geen tijd te verliezen om verbeteringen af te dwingen. Zeer urgente vraagstukken vragen om een slimme, innovatieve en integrale aanpak. Wat heel positief is dat er steeds meer formele doelstellingen komen. Die geven op nationaal en binnen bedrijven richting en bepalen het tempo.

Steeds vaker hoor je dat alle oplossingen voor veel van de maatschappelijke issues er al zijn. Zo weten we prima dat we afscheid moeten nemen van fossiele brand- en grondstoffen en dat we naar hernieuwbare materialen moeten. Waarom is het dan zo lastig om die oplossingen te omarmen en te implementeren. Dat antwoord ligt diep in onszelf, in ons allemaal.

Het menselijke gedrag is hetgeen ons tegenhoudt en ons verder brengt. Maar wij staan onszelf nog veel te vaak in de weg. Ons gedrag heeft meestal een korte termijn focus, soms per kwartaal, terwijl we beslissingen moeten nemen voor de lange termijn, de toekomst van generaties. Ons gedrag richt zich op het oplossen van zichtbare zaken, terwijl we beslissingen moeten nemen over onzichtbare zaken zoals CO2. Ons gedrag richt zich op het welzijn van mensen dichtbij, terwijl de migratie vanuit ver weg daar juist een grote rol in speelt.

Veel van ons leven nog altijd in de ver-van-mijn-bed-show en sommigen bouwen zelfs groot cynisme op, dat vind ik gevaarlijk. De wetenschap wordt afgedaan als verkeerd geïnformeerd en we blijven doen wat we altijd al deden. Namelijk meer nemen dan er feitelijk is. In 2017 vond de World Overshoot Day plaats op 2 augustus. In 1992 was ik in Rio de Janeiro, de eerste conferentie van de Verenigde Naties waar de onderwerpen ecologie en economie met elkaar verbonden werden. Toen was dit nog op 13 oktober, een dikke twee maanden later. En aangezien we nog steeds maar toegang hebben tot 1 planeet zullen we dus meer, betere en grotere stappen moeten zetten. En wel op mondiaal niveau. De 17 SDG’s geven duidelijk richting. Goal nummer 12, sustainable consumptie en productie is wat mij betreft de meest belangrijke om de andere 16 te kunnen realiseren en daar heb ik 4 toekomst wensen over.

Wens 1:

De eerste is om vaart te maken met de implementatie van een voedingspatroon waar plantaardige eiwitten een hoofdrol in spelen. Daar zijn vele redenen voor:

  • Ten eerste het klimaat: Landbouw dieren zijn goed voor een belangrijk deel van de CO2- emissies. De CO2 kilo equivalent van rundvlees is 27, die van eieren 4,8 en van bonen 2.
  • Ten tweede het milieu: 70% van het landbouwareaal wereldwijd wordt gebruikt voor de teelt van veevoer, inclusief pesticides en kunstmest. De gewassen zijn vooral soja en mais. Daarvoor worden bossen gekapt; dit levert monoculturen, verlies aan biodiversiteit en verschraling van de gronden.
  • Ten derde de mensen, de boeren: De spiraal om steeds groter te worden levert zeker niet altijd een beter product, een gelukkiger boer, voor een betere prijs. Het lijkt vaker juist een race naar beneden zonder winnaars. Stel je toch eens voor dat er wereldwijd 1 maaltijd per week verandert van gehaktballetjes naar groenteballetje, van kipnuggets naar falafel.

wens 1:

Mijn tweede wens is dat we alleen nog grondstoffen gebruiken die er al zijn. Voor het eerst in onze tijd leven we als mensheid voorbij onze planetary boundries. Onze levensstijl vraagt nu al 1,8 planeten en als we zo doorgaan houdt het simpelweg op. 3 miljard mensen bewegen van de lage klasse naar de middel klasse in 2030. Dat is goed nieuws, maar het geeft enorme druk op grondstoffen. Dus moeten we onze consumptie en productiepatronen opnieuw herzien.

Elke minuut worden er 1 miljoen plastic flessen gekocht. In 2015 werd 9% van het plastic recycled, 12% verbrand en 79% ging naar de stort. We kunnen alle materialen opnieuw gebruiken en datgene wat we nog uit de grond moeten halen wordt daarvoor gebruikt waar het nut het grootst is ten opzichte van de milieubelasting. Voor een gouden ring heb je bijvoorbeeld 10 ton gouderts nodig of 10 kilo mobiele telefoons. De schatting is dat er 100 miljoen mobiele telefoons in kastjes liggen niets te doen. Er wordt nog geen 10% van de telefoons recycled. Urban mining is een absolute noodzaak om efficiënter met grondstoffen om te gaan.

Wens 3:

Ten derde dat we alle beschikbare technologie en innovatie inzetten om transparantie in productieketens te bereiken. Er zijn al vele experimenten met blockchain in verschillende ketens en daar moeten we er veel meer van hebben.

Wens 4:

Mijn vierde wens is dat merken en mensen zich meer gaan richten op het invullen van een gat in de maatschappij dan het gat in de markt.

Merken zijn aanwezig in alles wat we in het dagelijks leven doen, en hebben daardoor de kracht om het gedrag van mensen te beïnvloeden; in wat we doen, kopen en vinden. Meer merken moeten deze invloed in gaan zetten om mensen te verleiden tot betere en duurzamere keuzes. Voor merken zelf wordt dat een aldoor slimmere keuze, niet in de laatste plaats omdat het steeds lastiger wordt om je met producten te onderscheiden op kwaliteit en mogelijkheden alleen.

“Moedige merken” verbinden zich op eigen wijze aan de issues van de samenleving waar ze deel van uitmaken. Hierbij durven ze tegen de stroom in te gaan en nemen ze hun verantwoordelijkheid in het vinden van oplossingen. Deze merken worden door de consument steeds meer gewaardeerd voor hun creativiteit en de positieve bijdrage die ze leveren. Merk en mens gaan gezamenlijk de strijd aan om de gaten in de maatschappij te dichten en geven zo vorm aan meer betekenis in de economie. We zien dit opkomen door kleine bedrijven en social entreprises. De impact zal echter veel meer vanuit de mainstream merken moeten komen. Daar hoop ik dat we een grote slag zullen maken en zullen we ook ons team voor uitbreiden.

Mijn 4 wensen voor positieve verandering zijn: plantaardige voeding, alle grondstoffen gebruiken die er al zijn, transparantie in ketens en meer activistische merken die positieve gedragsverandering omarmen. Ik hoop dat we de komende 10 jaar flink gas kunnen geven. Daar werk ik graag aan mee!

Geschreven door Leontine Gast (@leontinegast) voor ons 10-jarig jubileumevenement en voor The Terrace blogs. Bekijk hier de after-movie van ons evenement. Om up to date te blijven van The Terrace activiteiten, kunt u zich inschrijven voor onze nieuwsbrief.

 


Terugblik op 10 jaar positive change - Blog Leontine Gast (1/2)

Deze blog is gebaseerd op de speech die Leontine Gast, oprichter van The Terrace, gaf tijdens de gelegenheid van ons 10-jarig bestaan op 7 november 2017. Dit is een terugblik op het ontstaan van The Terrace in 2007, in de volgende blog schetst Leontine juist een vooruitblik aan de hand van haar eigen wensenlijstje voor de toekomst.

Wat speelde er in 2007 allemaal?

In de wereld van voeding startte het Europese EKO keurmerk, begon UTZ Certified met het Cacaoprogramma en lanceerde de Dierenbescherming het Beter Leven Keurmerk. De eerste Nederlandse Fair Trade Week ziet het licht. Aandacht voor klimaatverandering blijkt uit het feit dat de IPCC de Nobelprijs voor de Vrede ontvangt. En het was warm in 2007: de gemiddelde temperatuur was 11,2 graden en samen met 2006 de warmste jaren ooit gemeten sinds 1706.

Dit bestond er allemaal nog niet: WhatsApp, Uber, AirBnB, Spotify, Tesla en Pinterest. En de zoekterm ‘circulaire economie’ leverde nog geen enkel resultaat op.

We moesten vaak nog uitleggen dat duurzaamheid geen hype was, maar een onderdeel van de bedrijfsvoering. Dat het niet alleen om milieu maar ook om mensen ging. Inmiddels houden we ons gelukkig veel meer bezig met het bedenken en implementeren van oplossingen.

Hoe The Terrace is ontstaan

In 2006 ben ik weg gegaan bij Albert Heijn waar ik 9 jaar gewerkt heb. Daar ben ik in dienst gekomen als initiatiefnemer en oprichter van de biologische productlijn, een vernieuwend idee dat heel spannend was voor AH. En zeker ook voor mij! Ik wilde die impact voor de biologische landbouw graag bereiken. Dat lukte ook, en ik groeide binnen de organisatie. Gaandeweg werd ik echter steeds meer onderdeel van het bedrijf en begon mijn eigenheid wat te verliezen.

Ik was dus op zoek naar iets nieuws, maar wist nog niet precies wat en in welke vorm. Wat ik wel heel goed wist is dat ik me weer voor 100% bezig wilde houden met de wereld mooier maken. Dat was altijd al mijn drijfveer. Voor mijn eerste baan na mijn studie solliciteerde ik bij Unilever; daar kreeg ik een afwijzing met de motivatie dat ik wel slim genoeg was, maar ook te maatschappelijk geëngageerd was om bij het bedrijf te passen. Opvallend is dat toentertijd duurzaamheid helemaal nog niet op de agenda stond.

Vanaf midden 2000 zette het Nederlandse bedrijfsleven langzaam maar zeker het onderwerp duurzaamheid op de agenda. Uit ervaring als de eerste MVO-manager van AH en wellicht ook in Nederland, wist ik dat dit soort trajecten vaak tergend traag gingen. Zeker als er geen business case tegenover stond, werd het al snel heel dikke stroop. En omdat ik nogal ongeduldig van aard ben, dacht ik al snel dat dit soort trajecten prima bij verschillende bedrijven tegelijkertijd konden lopen. En dat ik mijn liefde voor merkstrategie daar goed voor kon inzetten. Zo begon ik in 2007 The Terrace, met de pay-off, “sustainable brands, competative edge”. Duurzaamheid als onderscheidend vermogen.

Mijn eerste opdracht was het creëren en toetsen van een innovatief drinkwater apparaat van Philips voor de Indiase markt. De eerste stagiaire betaalde ik aan het einde van de eerste maand cash omdat ik eigenlijk niet wist hoe dat werkte. Mijn zus die arbeidsadvocaat is, vond dat helemaal geen goed idee en heeft sindsdien alle contracten voor The Terrace gemaakt. De tweede opdracht was in samenwerking met Pierre Hupperts voor de HIER campagne. Een klimaat campagne om mensen en bedrijven bewust te maken van energieverbruik en wat je allemaal kon doen om je impact op het milieu te verminderen.

Limburgse honing en de Amsterdamse mosterd

Pierre en ik hebben elkaar in de 90er jaren ontmoet bij het Social Venture Network en aten sindsdien tenminste 1 keer per jaar Thais bij Birdies op de Zeedijk. Hoe verschillend wij als personen en achtergronden ook zijn, onze zakelijke en inhoudelijke gelijkgestemdheid maakt dat we goed samenwerken en dat leidde er in 2011 toe dat Pierre als partner toetrad tot Terrace. De combinatie van de Limburgse honing en de Amsterdamse mosterd levert voor onze klanten een mooi resultaat.

Het betekende wel dat Terrace een hybride positionering heeft; van strategie en stakeholder dialogen aan de ene kant en merkpositionering en communicatie aan de andere kant. We combineren de klassieke consultancy en de communicatiebureaus. Een breed pakket van diensten dus voor een klein bedrijf. Echter, het groene hart is wat alles met elkaar verbindt. De wens om de wereld mooier te maken, het analytische vermogen om keuzes te maken, de creativiteit om de vertaalslag naar de markt te maken. We zijn allemaal intrinsiek inhoudelijk gemotiveerd, willen van de hoed en de rand weten. Laatst zei iemand tegen mij dat we eigenlijk een content bureau zijn, ik denk dat dat ook wel klopt.

Vandaag

Anno 2017 zijn we met een vaste kern van 9 mensen, door alle werkende generaties heen. Zo houden de verschillende leeftijden elkaar goed op de hoogte en scherp. Er is bij Terrace altijd een bovengemiddeld aantal vrouwen werkzaam. Waarom weet ik niet, maar het feit is dat we dus altijd op zoek zijn naar groene mannen! We werken met een flexibele schil van experts op het gebied van Public Affairs, Video creatie, Infographics, Webbouwer, Dtp, etc. Zo hebben we altijd in huis wat we precies nodig hebben.

Ik vind dat je jong talent een baan moet bieden, zo krijgen ze een stabiele start in hun werkzame leven en kunnen ze eventueel een hypotheek aanvragen! We hebben vele geweldige medewerkers mogen begeleiden tot positive agents. En we hebben maar liefst 26 stagiaires opgeleid.

We hebben tot nu toe voor ruim 115 klanten gewerkt, van Ahrend tot Zonnatura. Met diverse vragenstukken op gebied van MVO strategie, merkstrategie en communicatie. Soms een opdracht van 2 maanden, soms voor vele jaren. We zijn 2 keer verhuisd en is er nog nooit een rekening niet betaald!

Ons werk betekent dat we in de kern van organisaties voor verandering zorgen, en dat heeft een grote mate van intimiteit. Als je geen vertrouwen hebt van de klant is het eigenlijk niet mogelijk om de gewenste verandering in gang te zetten. Een aardige anekdote is van een commercieel directeur jaren geleden. Hij ontving ons me de woorden: het is een zwarte dag, dat wij nou dure adviseurs moeten inhuren om ons MVO-beleid te maken. Jullie krijgen driekwartier en dat is eigenlijk al te lang! Na ruim 2 uur namen we afscheid en is hij altijd een ambassadeur geweest om MVO te implementeren en om ons aan te bevelen. Ons werk is eigenlijk altijd maatwerk, financieel niet altijd het meest rendabele maar wel het beste resultaat voor onze klanten.

Ik ben er trots op dat we met zo veel mooie bedrijven, merken en organisaties hebben mogen werken. In ons jubileumboekje laten we aan de hand van een aantal cases (NutriciaDopperMethodUnilever, Sociaal-Economische RaadSolidaridadResponsible Mining IndexLa CoppaAction) zien wat we bereikt hebben. Het was lastig om keuzes te maken over wie er in het boekje kwam, er zijn zoveel mooie verhalen te vertellen…

Toekomst

Voor de toekomst heb ik concrete 4 wensen voor positieve verandering waarmee we in mijn ogen de komende 10 jaar flink gas kunnen geven. Hier zal ik verder op ingaan in mijn volgende blog! Deze kan je begin januari verwachten! Stay tuned...

Heb je ons jubileumevenement gemist? Bekijk hier de after-movie!


Ready to scale-up? Do you have Category Leadership potential?

Having a social start-up means you want to change the world. Your product or service has the potential to create positive change for many. But to have real impact you need to scale-up.

How do you know if your brand is ready for the next step? That is an interesting question. Luckily The Terrace has developed a tool to assess the health of your social brand and it makes clear what you need to do to reach your goal.

A fundamental aspect you need to look at is the so called ‘’Power in the mind’’ of your brand. We have identified two critical checks to see if you are able to get a positive and prominent position in your market.

How single minded is your story?

To get your proposition across you need an extremely clear and simple story. Too many startups lose traction when their fundamental story becomes blurry. A simple but highly effective test is to check if your message can come from one type of personality.

Likewise, a defined corporate culture and a simple and clearly communicated strategy is necessary. You will be amazed by the high rotation of employees at social enterprises. Many times, this is due to unsatisfied employees, having different expectations of the brand and the company. They are disappointed that it was not clear enough how they could help the brand to have more impact.

Important questions you can ask yourself are: How focused is the brand story and sales pitch? How clear are the company values?

Do you have Category Leadership potential?

  • Most social enterprises are too polite. To have impact, you need to shoot for the stars. You must claim some sort of category leadership and act on it.
  • We loved it when Urgenda was the first social enterprise ever to sue the state. It was bold, it was right, and it was a 100% on brand. The same for the bid of VANDEBRON on the Hemkade.
  • Having a clear definition of your category is mandatory. A short cut to get attention is to point out the deadlock in the development of your category and show what you are doing about it.
  • Two important questions you can ask yourself: How many real category leadership actions have been executed? How fit is the company leadership to climb on the stage?

Keep an eye on our website and soon you’ll learn more about how to assess if you’re ready to scale-up! 


Dopper, on the verge of taking over the world: 'the bottle with a message'

If you haven’t heard of Dopper yet, you’ve probably stayed indoors with the doors and windows shut and the wifi disconnected. Dopper is the 'the bottle with a message': the recycled plastic water bottle that you can drink from without any form of guilt. This fun company is striving for some serious changes such as the ban of single-use plastic, clean drinking water for everybody and environmental awareness for a better future. That sounds like some big, hairy and audacious goal! 

After attending our Brave Brands Positioning Workshop and learning more about defining purpose and finding your brand's identity, the Dopper team called us for help. The organisation is in a huge transition and ready to take the leap to the next level. In the next couple of years Dopper will be entering new markets in several continents across the globe, with a particular focus on Germany. They wanted to be ready and feel 100% confident about Dopper’s brand positioning. For this the team needed to redefine their purpose and define who they are as a brand, and also, what they are not. 

New purpose. New power.

Together with the international team we created their new purpose. One that matches the dream of the founding fatherMerijn Everaarty and the Dopper change makers behind the brand. The challenge was to have focus and to not to be afraid of leaving important stuff out. After a few sessions with the team they noticed that by having focus, they gained a lot of clarity for their organisation. Everything seemed to come together. 

"Dopper wants to live in a world where we celebrate crystal clear waters." 

We created this new purpose to show the real reason behind the team’s motivation. Dopper  was found because of the frustration of our disposable lifestyle and the plastic waste that pollutes our beautiful waters. Dopper is striving for
as our drinking water and the oceans should be. The new purpose also shows the Dopper heart: it’s strong-willed but happy and cheerful, inspiring others to join and live the life we want to live: clean, healthy and happy.

 

Who is the messenger? 

After defining the purpose we’ve now embarked on an adventurous journey to find the brand personality. After a few sessions + the application of the Brave Brands Model, we’ve hit the jackpot! I cant disclose more info at the moment but you’ll find out soon ;)

Interested to learn more about the Brave Brands Model or how to find your brand’s purpose and identity? Please give us a call! We’d be happy to tell you more about it.