Will people suddenly start to ‘be kind’ in the national press and on social media in the wake of Caroline Flack’s suicide? I’m not holding out much hope, but I’d like to think so.
Flack’s poignant December Instagram message – “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – assumed a tragic new resonance when she took her own life. Be kind is exactly what we need to be – in the real world, face to face, rather than hiding behind trite hashtags in the virtual world.
It is easier said than done. When we launched The Pro Bono Challenge with Newcore Capital last September, I honestly thought we were pushing at an open door and that the industry would jump at the chance to share with us how they are being kinder through social impact initiatives. If only.
As Newcore’s principal and managing director Hugo Llewelyn noted in his comment piece last week and reiterates in our double-feature special on social impact this week, there is precious little evidence that the raised awareness of the importance of social impact has yet translated into meaningful action from the industry.
There are some notable exceptions. The efforts being made to address social impact by the likes of Patron Capital, FORE Partnership, LGIM RA, First Base and British Land are all highly laudable. There is also a growing acceptance in the industry that a tipping point is only likely to be reached if a standardised system is introduced that can accurately measure and report social impact – at the moment, argues Llewelyn, too many people are just pretending to do good – and, to quote Ian Dury of Blockheads fame, ‘reasons to be cheerful part three’ include the rise in the number of companies working towards B Corporation certification.
But there is a hell of a long way to go before our new-found desire to be kind evolves into actual bona fide Pro Bono kindness. If the past few weeks and months have taught us anything, it is not just that we need to be kinder to ourselves and each other, but that we need to be kinder to the planet. Happily, we are starting to make headway on this front, having been prodded into action by the likes of Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough and the relentless onslaught of news graphically detailing the grim impact of climate change.
Following our launch last month of The Climate Crisis Challenge in collaboration with UKGBC, we have been inundated with emails from people who want to get involved. I am delighted to announce that Argent, Mishcon de Reya and Savills have signed up as partners. As well as helping us deliver regular analysis and thought leadership in the run up to the COP26 UN climate change summit in Glasgow in November, they will be throwing their weight behind our campaign to galvanise the industry into meaningful and lasting action on climate change.
We have our work cut out. In our recent poll, just 23.9% of respondents said they felt their businesses were doing enough to tackle the crisis. It is with a view to getting a clearer picture of industry attitudes that we are conducting a Climate Crisis Perceptions Survey. Please do take the time to participate. Only when we understand the true scale of the challenge will we be able to start rising to it. #BeTheSolution #PWClimate