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Values Showcase – ‘With feet on the ground, look up’

Our subject matter requires us to look over multiple horizons, think expansively and innovate. But none of that is any use if we don’t turn it into pragmatic action today.


At the time of writing this, I’m currently somewhat 40,000ft in the air, descending into a smoggy London. In literal terms my feet are not on the ground, nor do I wish to look up or down for that matter, and so the irony is most definitely not lost on me! However, it is one of very few occasions that I don’t emulate the value ‘with feet on the ground, look up’ - something that is at the core of how Perigon delivers for its clients.

Why? Well, it’s an integral part of our mission – to unlock the power of business to enrich people, planet and prosperity. Anyone living in this century is cognisant of the immediate action required globally to limit global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius in a last-ditch effort to preserve this world. With the importance that businesses play in facilitating the necessary change, we advise and help those businesses problem solve for some of the challenges they face in creating a more sustainable organisation.

So, let’s look in some more detail at our 5th value – ‘with feet on the ground, look up’ as I share my own interpretation.

Our subject matter requires us to look over multiple horizons…

1. Sectors – Joining Perigon from predominantly a financial services background, I’ve had to quickly expand my knowledge when working for clients from various industries. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and the cross-industry exposure has emphasised the magnitude of tackling the transition, as well as the varying complexities of challenges. A clear example is the lack of policy and guidance provided by government for industries. Though all UK sectors would likely argue that more guidance from the UK government is required, I found direction for the charity sector to be particularly sparse. Even in the financial services sector, which is at the forefront of the decarbonisation campaign has to grapple with expectations to publicly sign up to various net zero pledges without the knowledge and supporting government policy of how it’s achieved. However, it is the commonalities I’ve experienced between different industries that provide hope. For instance, each organisation clearly recognises the importance of their role in facilitating change, whilst doing so with a passion for supporting their stakeholders through the transition. They radiate a camaraderie – outside their own four walls, crafted through a united vision for change, and a future!

2. Time – A vast agenda, evolving at a rapid pace results in a need to understand regulation that applies to each client, and their compliance status. However, the more complex aspect is preparing for regulation, standards and/or policies that are likely to land but have not yet been mandated. We must consider both current and future obligations when anticipating new or changing requirements. A prime example is the upcoming ISSB global sustainability disclosure standards expected this summer. It marks the next step towards equal prominence for sustainability and financial reporting, aiming to create a baseline that local jurisdictions can adopt or build upon should they wish to do so. There have been strong indications that the UK Government will adopt the standards, but the recent Brexit-fuelled bonfire of EU law in the UK throws it into question. With reporting against the standards expected to be as soon as 2023 for those with June financial year-ends, preparation against the draft exposure standards is key. A crystal ball would certainly come in handy at times!

Think expansively and innovate. But none of that is any use if we don’t turn it into pragmatic action today.

Aside from doing the job we are hired as consultants to do, I have often found that we must pre-empt client expectations and outputs, consistently being one step ahead at all times. We must consider the organisations’ current positioning in the market, their ambitions, and the circumstances (whether positive or negative) that would influence their strategy. For example, we would advise against a company running a human rights social media campaign if they are experiencing related issues in their supply chain, or are defaulting on current legislative obligations.

Essentially, we play two roles; that of an innovator – generating concepts that would genuinely shift the status quo, providing better outcomes for people, planet or economic prosperity, and allowing the client to reap the benefits of enhanced customer trust and experience, brand-building opportunities, and increased profitability. And that of a strategic architect – proving the metaphorical ‘pipe dream’ is in fact reachable, it can be resourced, measured, and it delivers real-life impact.

However, the crux of this is pragmatic action. All the powerpoints and deliberation in the world doesn’t solve the most crucial issues. It’s striking the right balance between innovation and practicality, so that clients can carry the mantle within their own organisations and deliver against plans that genuinely move the dial.

So, the clock is ticking, and I’ll probably have a new standard or framework to brush up on in the time it’s taken to put pen to paper (the digital kind!)… and while I’m now physically able to put my feet on the ground and look up, I hope that one day it’ll be at clear blue, unpolluted skies.

This blog was written by Laura McNeil, a Consultant at Perigon Partners.

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