(Photo Credits: Raya Al-Hashmi)
By: Anne Richardson, Principal + Media Director at Richardson Media Group
Richardson Media Group has embarked upon a journey to become a more sustainable, socially responsible business. We recently joined New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Our team has regular conversations about how to apply what we are learning about social responsibility to our professional services business. Now that we are shining a brighter light onto our collective purpose, we realize that our sustainability story began years ago.
As a strategic media planning and buying agency, we deliver targeted media campaigns, smart content, and SEO services to clients across a wide range of industries. Like many small businesses, we couldn’t afford to be too restrictive when we were starting. We always sought customers and partners who mirrored our values-based approach and modeled social responsibility. However, it wasn’t a deal-breaker if they didn’t adhere to those tenants. A few years ago, we began to see our selection criteria becoming more defined.
The loss of a dear friend leads to a new symbol and meaningful action.
In October 2017, three years after launching Richardson Media Group, my closest childhood friend lost her battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. She had been someone I relied on during the most pivotal moments in my life. Over 35 years of friendship, we navigated the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood, built our careers, and shared our dreams.
A few weeks before she passed, my friend challenged me to pick a symbol that would remind me of her when she was gone. I remembered when we were kids we used to laugh about how little we knew about the birds and bees. So, for me, the answer was easy. Our symbol would be the bee.
Since then, I can’t tell you how much more aware I am of bees and their environmental impact. I seek out all types of bee images and enjoy exploring a newfound interest in beekeeping. But the greatest surprise is how much I’ve learned from the bees and how directly my interest in bees ties into our desire to build a sustainable and socially responsible business.
A bee colony is an aspirational model for our business.
Within a hive, bees hold a myriad of roles and carry out a range of tasks to keep the nest safe, sound, and well-provisioned to ensure the future of new offspring colonies. Scientists have discovered that worker bees of all ages can perform any of these tasks, from scouting for new forage sources to protecting the hive from invaders. Productivity mainly depends on the amount of nutritional sustenance available to the colony. Communication takes the form of dancing, especially when it comes to foraging operations. Bees swarm when their nest gets too dense to support more than one queen. Swarming is a natural progression that allows the hive to stay healthy.
Looking at the bee colony as an organizational and functional model, we can easily detect a metaphor for healthy and productive human societies, including businesses.
To use the advertising industry as an example, agencies like ours rely on the work of coordinated teams performing tasks in tandem with one another every day. Successful projects result when individuals on these teams complete their assignments according to agency expectations and preset protocol. Fortunately, inter-agency communication doesn’t have to happen through interpretive dance. Rest assured, however, that there’s no shortage of creative expression around the office. Finally, as is true of the bees, we won’t hesitate to move to a new space in order to meet the needs of our team.
Implementing the lessons we've learned from the bees.
Our team continues to grow, and our business continues to mature. Today, we regularly meet to share ideas about how we can become more sustainable and socially responsible — both as a business and in our personal lives. We’ve brought bee symbolism into the office to remind us of our goals. We’ve redoubled our efforts to become more sustainable and socially responsible while partnering with clients and creative agencies that also embrace a socially-responsible business model. We especially enjoy working with independent schools, colleges, and universities and feel gratified when we learn how they, too, are on the path to sustainability.
Long-term change is hard, and adapting a socially-responsible business model designed for large companies to our smaller agency can be overwhelming. But if we acknowledge that even small steps have a significant impact in the aggregate, the effort we are putting into this initiative becomes more manageable and fulfilling.
Donating to bee conservation organizations, reducing waste, recycling, and printing on both sides of the paper sometimes feel like small, inconsequential actions. But taken together with the efforts of like-minded businesses, these simple steps make a tangible difference
As we continue our journey, my team and I will map out our progress as we pivot towards sustainability. We’ll share stories about what we learn on social media and our blog. We hope this conversation will give us the opportunity to forge new agency partnerships and work with more clients who share our conscientious view of the world. We’re also determined to do our part to use our voice to impact how the marketing industry communicates about critical environmental issues.
What started with love for a dear friend has expanded into a deep respect for one of nature’s most beautiful organisms. In turn, it has opened the door to changing how we do business, hopefully leading all of us towards a more sustainable future.