WHO WE
WORK WITH

Jack & Grace works with brands that value people, planet and profit equally – we want businesses doing good to be the norm.

 

This doesn’t mean we only work with organisations that are ‘perfect’. We’re not perfect; perfect doesn’t exist. It does mean we want to partner with brands and organisations that genuinely align with our mission.

 

To help with that, we’ve developed a checklist to enable honest, positive conversations.

 

Gut feel still plays a role in our decision-making, but we needed something more structured too.

 

In the spirit of openness and our mission to use business as a force for good, we’re sharing our approach here so other purpose-led comms agencies can use. It’s something we know we’ll refine over time, so if you have thoughts on how to make it better, please yell.

THE CHALLENGE  

Identifying the 'right' kinds of clients for Jack & Grace is far from black and white. 

 

Every company and organisation committing to purpose alongside profit is on a unique journey. Some have been socially and environmentally minded from the outset and have sustainability baked into their DNA - from governance and staff welfare to supply chain management. 

 

Others will have spent years focused on their bottom line and are only now beginning to address their social and environmental impact in a meaningful way. The intention to make improvements might be there, but they are only just beginning to make the necessary changes to become more sustainable.  

 

And of course, there are companies who appear to be purpose-led but are simply profiteering.  

 

This wide variation presents a challenge. Brands that are B Corp certified might sail through our selection process, but where do we draw the line with a company that’s doing well to integrate sustainable practices into their business but has yet to start making a net positive impact? And how do we smoke out the brands who talk the talk with no substance (or real intention) behind their claims?  

 

There’s no one size fits all solution, so a tick-box checklist isn’t going to work on its own. We need something that allows for more nuance, without being overly complicated.  

 

APPROACH

Every prospective client we speak to will be on a unique journey, ranging from brands with early intentions to be more socially and environmentally focused, through to brands who have successfully integrated a social and environmental mindset into every aspect of their business. Then there’s the level of impact itself – some brands we speak to will only be able to show their future potential for positive impact while others will already be able to prove their impact is net positive.   

 

To reflect this sense of a journey, we’ve decided to map prospective clients rather than use a linear checklist (although a checklist will still come into it). 

 

The journey to positive impact: mapping prospective clients  

Our Journey to Impact map below is a quadrant graph. It allows for brands interested in sustainability to be travelling along two important pathways: the pathway from intention to integration of positive social and environmental practices, and the pathway from potential impact to demonstrable positive impact.  

Jack & Grace client framework

THE FOUR QUADRANTS

  • In Quadrant 1 we’ve got the brands who are genuinely integrating social and environmental drivers into their business practices and are already seeing a positive impact. B Corps are a prime example, and charities are highly likely to land here. Any prospect who maps into this quadrant would qualify in. 

  

  • Quadrant 2 contains clients who are doing well to integrate social and environmental best practice and show clear potential, but they’re not yet able to prove a net positive impact. These clients warrant discussion on a case-by-case basis. If we think they have the potential to move into Quadrant 1, we might be happy to work with them. On the other hand, if we think the client is making some positive changes to its business practices but will never truly be a force for good, we may decline. 

 

  • Quadrant 3 also requires more discussion but is unlikely to qualify. They may, for example, have good intentions in some areas of business, but be far from purpose-led and the potential for a net positive impact across the business remains distant.  

 

  • Quadrant 4 is an interesting one. It contains brands who are making a positive impact but aren’t truly applying a social and environmental mindset into their business. How much would we mind that they value profit above all else? Their commitment to people / community is probably fairly low, even if their contribution to environmental sustainability is high. Again, brands that fall into quadrant 4 require a case-by-case discussion.  

A note on the ‘impact’ axis

Measuring a brand’s true impact is difficult. Even companies who are B Corp certified find it hard to accurately prove they’re making a net positive impact. By the nature of their business, some brands will only ever achieve ‘do no harm’ rather than a positive impact. We’ll need to discuss and agree how much hard proof of a net positive impact we need to see from prospective clients. 

MAPPING OUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS: THE QUESTIONS WE ASK

 

Below is a set of questions we use to help map prospective clients along the two axes. After much discussion and reflection, these should be used as a guide for plotting prospective clients onto the map, rather than having a hard and fast scoring system.   

 

INTENTION

For an organisation to plot on the ‘intention’ axis, we’d expect them to answer ‘yes’ to at least one of the following questions:  

  • Does the organisation’s vision, mission and values make explicit reference to positive social / environmental impact? 

  • Does the organisation appear knowledgeable about social / environmental impact within its external communications, and in our meetings with them?  

  • If it’s a trade body, is the organisation already in dialogue with its members about sustainability and the need for members to address social / environmental impact?  

  • Has the organisation started the process of developing a sustainability strategy and / or securing B Corp Accreditation?   

  • Has the organisation signed any public commitments to sustainability via industry charters or schemes?  

 

INTEGRATION

For an organisation to plot on the ‘integration’ axis, we’d expect them to answer ‘yes’ to at least two or three of the following questions:  

  • Does the company have a sustainability strategy, or explicit social / environmental objectives within its business plan?  

  • Does the company have KPIs / metrics in place to determine whether they’re meeting their social / environmental objectives?  

  • Is sustainability being driven from the top of the organisation rather than a faction within? 

  • Does the organisation have a legal duty to act in the best interests of its stakeholders (employees, suppliers, environment and community) rather than just its shareholders? 

  • Are sustainable business practices embedded across the company, rather than happening within certain sub-brands or divisions?  

  • If it’s a trade body, is the organisation demonstrating leadership by requesting its member organisations adopt more sustainable business practices?  

  • Is the organisation B Corp qualified?  

  • Any ‘weird’ tax practices going on? 

 

IMPACT

  • Is the company able to provide evidence of its social / environmental impact? 

  • If impact is being measured, is it positive?  

  • Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does the organisation contribute to?

  • If proof of impact can’t be provided, is the company able to demonstrate its potential to make a positive social and environmental impact in the future, and what timescales is it working to?   

  • Is the company open about past wrong-doing and any negative impacts it may have caused previously? 

 

INSTINCT

This final set of questions doesn’t link with the map. It takes us back to gut feel and chemistry with the brand:  

  • Can we imagine working with this client in a positive, collaborative way? 

  • Do we understand what the client is trying to achieve?  

  • Does the client understand what they’re trying to achieve? 

  • Do we genuinely believe our work can help to accelerate the positive social / environmental good the client wants to create? 

  • Is there support for communications from the top of the business?  

  • Would we be proud to include this brand in our client list?  

 

WHY THE MAP APPROACH WORKS FOR US

  • Mapping prospective clients rather than using a checklist acknowledges that each brand is on a unique purpose journey and it’s not as simple as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’  

  • It’s a simple visual tool that can either be used very quickly based on instinct, or in more depth based on detailed questions  

  • It allows us to track clients’ / prospects’ progress over time as brands move towards Quadrant 1. This may force us to make difficult decisions about an existing client if progress isn’t being made or isn’t being made quickly enough. But it also allows us to re-connect with brands who didn’t qualify a year ago, but have made headway since

  • It allows us to ‘group’ different kinds of clients and agree policies for each group. For example, we now have an aim that 70% of Jack & Grace’s turnover comes from clients in Quadrant 1 - committed to purpose and making a positive impact.

  

Developed by Francesca Rivett-Carnac, purpose driven communications consultant 

March 2021.

 

Last revised in June 2022.