What did Purposefest 2024 teach us about being a purpose-led business?

Eleanor Ferrari
Marketing Executive
15th March 2024

To kick off celebrations for this year’s B Corp month, Bristol and Bath B Local hosted ‘Purposefest’- a day long event celebrating the ways in which businesses and wider communities can be purpose-led and act as a force for positive change.   

Business West has been a certified B Corp since 2021, and three employees, Lizzie Lyons, Huw James, and Sally Quinlan, attended Purposefest at Bristol Beacon to meet and learn from communicators, founders, teams, agencies, change-makers and decision-makers.  

The day was filled with insightful panel discussions and talks covering various areas of business and social responsibility. Topics ranged from biodiversity and the role of nature in the economy models, to the B Corporation movement and the future of B Corp standards.  

Inclusion in the workplace was another key subject, with the panel discussing how to create a workplace culture that is inclusive without being intrusive. The day concluded with a discussion on how to amplify your message and communicate your company's purpose effectively, both internally and externally. The importance of honesty, transparency, and a willingness to learn from past mistakes were emphasised.  

We asked Huw, Lizzie and Sally what they enjoyed most about Purposefest this year, and whether there were any learnings that we could implement at Business West. 

What were our favourite moments from Purposefest? 

Huw James, who is our Policy Planning and Delivery Specialist, was most interested in hearing from businesses looking to campaign for change in this election year. 

Huw found listening to Dale Vince OBE, CEO of Ecotricity, very insightful, saying: 

“It was inspiring to hear about his experiences and testimony for the transformative power that business can bring in creating societal change. His campaign, JustVote24, supports younger generations to register to vote and reminds our business communities to encourage their employee base to register to vote.” 

When asked what he took away from attending Purposefest, he said: 

“For me it is so useful to hear the policy leavers advocated for by the region’s B Corp movement – on matters ranging from biodiversity to workplace mental health and wellbeing, there were some really useful insights coming both from speakers, and from attendees that I spoke to during Purposefest.” 

“There were some really helpful discussions led by Triodos on finance and money, including efforts developing around the Better Business Act, and more practical regulatory levers around the need for transparency and standardisation of environmental and social governance (ESG) metrics.” 

Sally Quinlan, who is Membership Executive for Bristol and Bath, remarked on the significant increase in attendance numbers compared to last year, with the event growing from 200 to 400 attendees, and enjoyed seeing lots of new businesses and individuals getting involved in the conversation. 

“The atmosphere and energy at the Bristol Beacon, which was a fantastic venue, was brilliant. It felt like a real celebration of new beginnings with the Bristol Beacon recently reopening and seeing lots of new faces in the room.” 

What can Business West take away from Purposefest? 

Lizzie Lyons, Head of Skills Delivery, highlighted the opportunities that Katie Mainprice from Natural England presented when she spoke about the Nature Away Day they are running as part of the Natural History Consortium’s Festival of Nature, which takes place from the 1st – 9th June across Bristol and Bath. This is the UK’s largest celebration of the natural world. Running for over 20 years, the festival offers opportunities for people to connect with local wildlife, learn about the natural world, and take purposeful action for nature. 

At Business West, we are developing our own nature recovery strategy, using our location at Leigh Court as a key aspect. Our staff can take two fully paid volunteer days a year, and using getting involved with the opportunities connected to nature and the environment is a great way to move things forward. 

During the event, attendees were also introduced to the new changes that are being made to the B Corp standards, which was a brilliant reminder for us to ensure we’ve participated in the ongoing consultation about them.   

A presentation about diet and its influence on people’s mental wellbeing also sparked conversation about the considerations we should make at Business West for our internal and external events. As well as looking at the carbon footprint of the food we offer, and making sure we cater for everyone’s dietary requirements, we should also be mindful of offering non-processed, organic food options, which have been connected to increased energy levels and positive wellbeing. Through the venue we run, our Head of Events has long been focused on using locally sourced food and the sustainability impact of our choices, but there is always room to improve. Educating employees on the connections that are being made between diets and wellbeing could also become a part of our mental health awareness resources. 

Our final takeaway from Purposefest came from the Money Matters session, which was useful in pointing out the most ethical financial providers. Reassuringly, Aviva who are our pension provider are the most ethical company to be with, but it’s a good reminder to be questioning our providers to be more transparent about where our funds are going. 

See you at next year’s Purposefest! 

Overall, we were glad to have attended Purposefest again this year, and took a lot of learnings from the event that we can put in place within our business. We look forward to getting involved in the event again in the future.  

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