Isn’t it great when you’ve been beavering away at something for ages and then a series of events help shape the effort, the conversations and the meetings to make something good happen.  From my perspective that’s been our story since we established as an independent company in 2013. We knew we wanted to make a difference, but it’s very difficult for busy people with busy day jobs to give an important initiative the focus it needs to build capacity. Something, or a series of somethings, needs to act as a catalyst for change.

That something happened for me when we met Charles Wookey, founder and now CEO of A Blueprint for Better Business, an independent charity that acts as a catalyst for change in business. Blueprint helps businesses realise their true long term potential: to serve society, respect people, rediscover their purpose and thereby earn a fair and sustainable return for investors.  The Blueprint story, which started a year before ours, has now developed into an independent charity that is involved with a growing number of major companies. I thought, if Charles can do that, so in our way, can we. We were already working with the five universities in the North East region and had developed a wonderful relationship with Emmanuel College. So much was in place,  but we needed to re-group and re-energise and with the appointment of Kevan as our chair, and a small amount of pump-priming resource from Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, we’ve done just that.

When we formed  we had an ambition to help the entire north east region understand itself as a region for ethical and responsible business. That suggests action not words! We’ve already run  a successful campaign on the need for fair payment and kick-started inter-schools debates, now it’s time to up our game. To get to the next level we need to focus on building capacity and to do that we want to make it easy for business to see the business sense in getting involved.

The NIBE 100  Club is our first foray into building capacity and resource. Any business who believes in what we stand for can support our work with an investment of £100 – in return they’ll receive a badge for their website and the opportunity to host events and share best practice.  We’ve also launched an Ethical Business Network. Using Corporate-Exemplars (kick-starting with Greggs) speakers will share best practice, make practical suggestions and encourage conversation around ethical and responsible business growth.  In addition, we are also seeking your input to help shape the future of this group and talk up the benefits of ethical and responsible business practice.

We started small, but with the backing of MPs, universities and the business networks. Over the last five years we’ve had lots of conversations and extended our reach into schools. Now to make a real difference we need your help as individuals, business –owners or professionals to make a small commitment and co-create a movement that will make the north east known as a great place to do good business – on every level.

Caroline Theobald – Director NIBE