Our Letter

We are living in a world of intensity and complexity. Extraordinary weather events, environmental degradation, human rights abuses and extremes of poverty and wealth have become the norm. At times it can all feel pretty dark, but momentum is building for a very different tomorrow. Climate awareness, new economic thinking, political and social activism, radical innovation and technology are converging to show the possibility of a future world that is desirable, equitable and regenerative.

At Here we believe this alternative future is well within reach and it is the responsibility of business to help create it.

At Here we believe this alternative future is well within reach and it is the responsibility of business to help create it. Our BCorp certification in July 2022 marked our commitment to creating the type of world we want to live in. The B Impact Assessment process itself helped us to analyse business practices, shift our long-term strategy away from ‘growth at all costs’ and helped us to create a solid framework for action.

Broadly speaking, since certifying, our key focus areas have been:

  • Developing our products and services and point of difference within the design industry to increase our influence with current and future clients
  • Strengthening organisational structures and creating a fully inclusive culture. We want to be a business where all team members thrive and play an active part in delivering the mission
  • Building foundations for achieving greater future impact. We are improving our governance structures, bringing sustainability expertise into the business, and building powerful networks to harness strategic thinking and accelerate sustainability innovation

In this first year since certification we have made good progress and faced some important challenges. We have also been learning the realities of being a purpose-driven business. Our studio philosophy Beautility is about combining beauty and purpose in all we do. We want to dedicate our skills and our time to making good, sustainable choices desirable for ourselves, our communities and our clients. We're the first to admit that this is not and will not always a straightforward task.

We want to dedicate our skills and our time to making good choices (the sustainable choices) desirable for ourselves, our communities and our clients. We can admit that this is not always a straightforward task.

As a design business working largely in the F&B sector we are familiar with the tensions between innovation and profit and the negative impact cost optimisation can sometimes have on sustainable choices. Our clients are our largest stakeholder group and we continually look for ways to put sustainable innovation into the design process. After all, we're in a responsible position to encourage these attitudinal shifts and nudge our clients, slowly but surely, towards more progressive choices. This requires our project and creative teams to use substantial reserves of energy, resilience and persistence and for this we are all grateful.

This year, we have recruited expertise to help us position sustainability with our clients, not only as desirable, but as a real source of competitive advantage, and to look for smart ways to put sustainability strategy and design onto our clients’ agendas, whether requested or not. The next step is broadening our education to counteract the sometimes limited, specialist industry views we encounter daily. In order to articulate how sustainable innovation can help balance the margins we need to better understand both our clients and our consumers as well as working out those barriers to change.

Like all businesses, we are not immune to fluctuating economic forces and we find ourselves continually balancing short term business needs with long term sustainability and social impact goals. We don’t lack ambition, but being small, we do lack the organisational structure of a large corporation, and so charting and maintaining a purpose-driven course can be challenging for a team the size of ours. It is vital that we understand where the opportunities and issues lie and this means knowing the societal and environmental impacts that matter most to our business and our stakeholders. This insight is key to channelling our energies towards high impact activity. To maintain momentum, this year we established a Governance Team which fully represents all parts of the business, holds collective responsibility for continual improvement in pursuit of the mission and which will develop a deep understanding of stakeholders needs.

We have worked hard this year to make our mission clear, and to champion the BCorp movement. We are optimistic, but bringing the world’s challenges into focus has at times been overwhelming. We are learning to give space to our fears and doubts, then channel them into positive action, whether that's finding ways to reduce our environmental footprint through careful supplier choices, or team members leading discussions on becoming single use plastic free.

We are firmly committed to achieving meaningful impact for the environment and society and we have much to thank the team for. Many developments are under way and numerous more are planned. We are exploring relationships with scientific consultancies to reduce our emissions and understand our environmental impacts. We are strengthening relationships with our much valued pro-bono partners: in the last year the whole team has been able to participate in delivering fantastic work and support for young offender and homeless organisations. We are helping to make the creative industries open to all regardless of socio-economic background - 20% of our team now mentor young creatives via the Creative Mentor Network. We have established an ED&I Forum (25% of the team are members), which is now carefully planning Here’s priority focus areas. Everyone in the business has participated in designing a set of values and behaviours to govern everything we do and many have contributed to defining clear job descriptions for all roles. Such collective efforts help us to raise the bar for impact and performance.

Innovation and change involve leaps into the unknown and at times we are asking the team to embark on new journeys without detailed maps.

This last year has seen us invest more time and energy into intentionally changing our business strategies. Innovation and change involve leaps into the unknown and at times we are asking the team to embark on new journeys without detailed maps. This can be exciting for some but destabilising for others. We are incredibly proud of how the Here team is responding to the evolution of the business with courage, openness and optimism.

Andrew Graham, MD, on behalf of the Governance Team