On Wednesday 5th June, Berwick Partners was delighted to be joined by Douglas Lamont, Chief Executive of innocent, as guest host for our Consumer Leadership Dinner held at 1 Lombard Street, London. The event was attended by numerous CEOs and MDs, from a broad range of consumer goods businesses to discuss and debate the role of ‘Sustainability and Purpose in Business’ as Katie Hart, a Consultant in our Consumer and Retail Practice explains.
Douglas joined innocent in 2006 and has been leading the business as Chief Executive for the past six years. Under his leadership the business has expanded both its product strategy, stretching into a broad range of healthy drinks, and its geographical footprint, scaling the business right across Europe. As a result, the business has more than doubled; however the aim has not purely been profit focused. Instead, Douglas has championed a way of doing business that balances the need for profit with the needs of people and planet.
The evening brought together CEOs and MDs, from a broad range of consumer goods businesses, to discuss and debate the role of ‘Sustainability and Purpose in Business’, at a time when people are making fundamentally different choices and looking for meaning in what they do day-to-day.
Douglas shared valuable insight into what purpose means to him and to innocent; despite purpose being something that has been at the heart of the innocent story for the last 20 years, today it feels more relevant than it ever has. He spoke about this being the first generation of leaders that can’t say ‘we didn’t understand the scale of the environment and climate change problem’ and the last generation of leaders that can do anything about it. It is now the responsibility of businesses to step up well beyond the line set by the government.
What has been different for Douglas as a leader in the last four years is the sense of urgency for change, and the need and want to influence change beyond innocent, which is where B Corp came in. B Corp is a movement of companies and CEOs shifting the image of business from greed to good – not just for the sake of it, but to steer the world back to a more normal environmental and social path. innocent officially became B Corp certified last year, which Douglas explained was not done to prove anything or for PR, but to lend a voice to a powerful movement and to be part of a community that not only has the will to change but is finding the way to change too.
Douglas’ insight inspired an engaging discussion and sharing of experiences on a topic which is only going to become more relevant to leaders of consumer goods businesses.
One discussion point was how CEOs get shareholders to buy-in to purpose. Guests shared experiences of how doing business in the right way does not have to cost anything; in fact it can drive revenue and, importantly, can be a hugely valuable talent attraction tool. People are increasingly choosing a different path to the one that just earns them the biggest salary; instead they want to believe in what they do and be a greater force for good. There were examples of this shared among the group, and it was clear that this doesn’t just apply to millennials but across all generations. Purpose can result in a more engaged workforce, and highly engaged talent often results in a high performing team.
We would like to thank Douglas once again for his time and we look forward to hosting further events on the theme of sustainability and purpose in business.