Guest Blog by Woon Tan
Realising that the challenges and opportunities of sustainability reach far beyond our shores, the organisers of the National CSR Awards, which had successfully held 3 annual events, recently rebranded and relaunched as the Global Good Awards to recognise the best in sustainability, CSR, NGOs, charity and social enterprise, and we were lucky enough to spend an evening celebrating the award winners and eating delicious vegan food.
Turning the tide on organisational quackery
Wikipedia defines a quack as “fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill". Ed Gillespie, the MC of the Global Good Awards (GGA), hosted at the British Medical Association, opened the event by calling out the organisational quackery that infects our world. He hailed all the award winners as being leaders who are doing good in the face of this.
Ed, the cofounder of the sustainability agency Futerra, reminded such quackery is writ large with examples such as the recent collapse of construction giant Carillion which raked up debts of up to £2 billion with 1000s of job losses while directors pocketed wildly excessive bonus and salaries.
On the other hand, he acknowledged that there is considerable positive news is out there, citing that the growing BCorp movement in the UK has now over 1000 organisations with combined turnover of over £1B.
Keynote speaker was the award winning writer, editor, advisor and speaker Martin Wright who enlightened the audience with a persuasive case for optimism. Martin shared his inspiring personal story from the frontline of environmental and developmental issues meeting fishermen in Bangladesh and explaining why solar and mobile technology is now benefiting everyone and that businesses need to embrace commercialism with a can-do attitude.
The expert sustainability communicator suggests that the pessimistic approach of making people feel guilty is over and activism now needs to be relentlessly focused on solutions.
Blown away by the diversity and calibre of winners
The 63 short-listed organisations were competing for recognition in 16 categories. The awards rewarded organisations big and small, from Hackney’s innovative Toast Ale, made from bakery leftovers, to the global pharmaceutical company GSK for their fundraising work with Save the Children.
The awards also recognised partnerships between between big and small, such as that between FMCG giants, Unilever and community organisers Project Dirt. Even football club, West Ham, received a silver award and London’s The Soap Co. were multiple award winners, in partnership with agency The Communications Store. A tangible example of solution focused positive action is the millions of acres of protected by Cool Earth, who won gold for the International Sustainable Community award for their Ashaninka Partnership.
The coveted ‘Outstanding Individual Corporate Leadership’ award was taken by James Thornton of Client Earth for winning several landmark cases on air quality. The Crown Estate won the ‘Overall Excellence in Corporate Responsibility’ with projects delivering on their promise of ‘creating brilliant places’.
Global Good CEO, Karen Sutton says: “The Global Good Awards continues to grow in its fourth year. In 2018, we wanted to broaden the scope to reach organisations of all shapes and sizes and were absolutely blown away by the diversity and calibre of the results.”
Walking the talk
The Global Good Awards certainly walks the talk to ensure the gala is truly sustainable. Among the many initiatives taken, was the carbon balancing of the event in partnership with headline sponsor Denmaur Independent Papers, the company behind Revive recycled paper carbon who offsets all the carbon emissions via the World Land Trust.
The GGA made history with the first ever fully vegan menu at an award ceremony. This bespoke menu did not disappoint with street food options of Indian, Italian and Mexican cuisine and a beverage selection including vegan wine, Toast Ale, and Belu water.
With a eco dress code guests were encouraged to dress with colour and a conscience, a jacket made with Ribena plastic wraps and the paper dress worn by organiser Karen herself were clear standouts.
Gold Award Trust Mark
The ceremony closed with a truly deserving applause for the organisers of the GGA as they were assessed for criteria of ethics and transparency and was accredited by the Independent Awards Council the first ever Gold Award Trust Mark.
We finish this review of the remarkable event with a comment from headline sponsor, Danny Doogan, Director of Marketing and Sustainability at Denmaur Independent Papers: “We’ve loved being a sponsor for the Global Good Awards for the second time running. It’s so inspiring to see all of the good work happening in sectors from soap manufacture to snacks, charitable giving and printing. Congratulations to our winners!"
In addition to helping clients communicate, connect and change, I love highlighting stories from the front line of inspiring sustainability.