Getting everyone not just onboard but driving the train of change
BY SIGNE HANSEN, MADE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CIRCL8
When faced with the task of improving not just the practice of your business but the health of our planet and the life of future generations, it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed, scared or hopeless even. But it need not be like this, says the award-winning consultancy team behind CIRCL8; no, making the world a better place should be easy, and if that sounds too good to be true, you need to keep reading.
When Monique Schmitz, managing director and co-founder of CIRCL8, says that making the world better should be easy, she means it. She does not, however, imply that reaching circularity or sustainability goals will not take work, time, difficult questions and changes, but that once you know that you are on the right path – the path that you have created for you and your business – and you know that results will improve both customer relations and profits too, making changes will feel good, easy even. “You should be able to go to work, and when doing your job properly also be working towards a better world,” says Schmitz and asks rhetorically: “Who wouldn’t want that?”
Expertise, passion and insight
To achieve the above, Schmitz and her co-founder, Marcel Jacobs, a recognised and rewarded subject matter expert in sustainability, work closely with clients to uncover the aims, strategies and hindrances towards sustainability, and that they are successful in doing so is demonstrated by their broad variety of successful clients, from universities to manufacturers. But more so, it is documented in the passion with which Schmitz speaks of the role CIRCL8 plays in creating transparent value chains, ensuring that people are respectfully rewarded and that natural resources are preserved for future generations.
“It’s about uncovering where the company is at, what it wants to achieve, who is onboard, what’s the boardroom’s approach and what are the limiting beliefs,” explains Schmitz, who has a successful career in business management and HR behind her. For many years, her background and experience spurred discussions with Jacobs on how to successfully transform a company. As a result, about five years ago, the two of them realised how powerful the combination of their different areas of expertise was and decided to use it to help businesses succeed on both environmental and business goals.
“When we started, most clients were attracted by Marcel’s expertise, and we worked more like a typical consultancy, providing the possible solutions to their questions. But now we know that if we don’t get people onboard, get the right team set up, and have the right resources, it makes no sense to even get started. In the end, of course, we always get to the content, but now people are much more excited about it because they have a really clear picture of what their journey is, and they feel in control of it. It’s just a totally different approach,” Schmitz explains.
Not acting is a normal reaction
Once CIRCL8 started its unique approach, it quickly gained a number of new clients through word of mouth. Most clients fall within the category of small and medium enterprises, and many are struggling to meet the rising environmental and social standards expected by customers, legislative bodies and sometimes even employees, and the potential for change is thus great. “If you look at it like a pyramid, you have the large enterprises on top, often they have a lot of experts, and they know how to act, to some extent. But the biggest impact is not there, because underneath them there are a gazillion small and medium enterprises, and many have no idea what to do,” Schmitz explains. “Through the years, we figured these are the people who need the help the most. Faced with just an expert like Marcel, they say: we don’t have the resources or the knowledge, they want to run for the door. And that’s a normal reaction when faced with something you don’t understand, to not act.”
Combining their unique multi-stakeholder and joint-responsibility approaches with Jacob’s award-winning expertise and a thorough methodology, CIRCL8 thus takes the power of transformation to the next level; not just to help their clients succeed, but to help them inspire further change. Schmitz says: “Once people are successful, everybody wants to be a part of that, and that’s what we need if we want to make a better world.”
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