The Business Revolution Episode 1

Audio version:

How do we champion a circular and decarbonised economy? And how do we foster a business culture of honesty, transparency, and care in the workplace as well as in our marketing? Dive into #TheBusinessRevolution with us! 🎧

In our first episodes of this podcast, we circle around the basic values on which a business revolution must be founded. A primary one is simply telling the truth, and talking about it openly. In Episode 1, we explore what the issue is with the carbon emissions and the climate emergency, which is often a taboo that can’t be mentioned at business meetings. In Episode 2, we dig deeper into what it looks like when companies are not telling the truth.

In Episode 1 we feature Dr Andrew Forrest and professor Nick Barter. We also play short statements by Sir David Attenborough, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Donald Trump, ABC News, ABC Landline, a clip from ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ movie, an excerpt from a documentary video by Desmog, an advertisement for Shell, two short clips from Beatles’ song ‘Revolution’ and the song ‘Love Song To The Earth’.

Full transcript of The Business Revolution episode 1

The Business Revolution.

The business revolution is already happening, but now it’s also happening as a podcast. And this is Episode Number 1. Yay, we are on air. Cherry, Alan, how do you feel?

Excited. I’m very excited to be here.

Yeah, me too. Excited. Really looking forward to it.

So we’ve talked about, you know, where do we begin? It’s a huge, huge topic. And maybe one way to begin with the talking about the revolution that we want to cover in so many different aspects, is to listen to some people that inspire us – or people who say things that we really are against.

And we’re going to bring it down because we’re going to go drill, baby, drill – we’ll drill, baby, drill. We’re bringing it way down.

Dr Andrew Forrest:
The system is failing us because you, captains of industry, you policy makers, are not directing your investments the proper way.

Ban Ki-moon:
It may sound strange to speak of revolution, but that is what we need at this time. We need a revolution. Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action.

Sir David Attenborough:
If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security.

Antonio Guterres:
We have a choice: Collective action or collective suicide.

In Australia, we already have business leaders who are, you could say, holding up the revolutionary banner. Like Dr. Andrew Forrest from the mining company Fortescue – who is also Australia’s second richest man. And I think we can in something called The Business Revolution podcast, we can definitely devote some time here in our first episode to listen to him and hear where he’s coming from, because in a way that also explains where WE are coming from and what we think is leadership in this space.

Dr Andrew Forrest:
It’s business which is causing global warming. It’s business which will kill your children. It’s business which is responsible for lethal humidity, but it’s policies which guide business. You must hold us to account. Don’t let us – with our clever advertising – blame you, the consumer, or you, the public, or individual. That’s rubbish. Business guided by government will either destroy or save this planet. Hold us to account. The power of you. Thank you. Make us change. It’s all I’m asking you to do: Make us change.

Certainly there’s one thing that I think is, like, fundamental to understand when we talk about Australian business, and that is a study that came out recently from Griffith University. There’s a video out where we hear Nick Barter, who was one of the people… Professor Nick Barter, one of the people who conducted this study, talked about it, and what they found.

Professor Nick Barter:
We did a quick sweep across the globe. UK, USA and even Chinese CEOs are more likely to be focused on creating sustainable businesses than Australian CEOs. And actually what really the point of me saying that is because we find Australian CEOs stick out more than anybody else in terms of what they want to do differently. So I would say there’s a lot of similarities between CEOs in the rest of the world. It’s just Australia that sticks out a little bit, if you like, and Australia sticks out in a way that says: it’s not on the same page as the rest of the world. It’s not focused on sustainability, ESG, SSD equity.

I think the thing that Australian CEOs want to, really, want to do, just to underline it, is they want to do more acquisitions and find more cost efficiencies in their business. And that was kind of the opposite, diametrically opposed to the rest of the world. And what does that mean? We interpret it as too many Australian CEOs are locked in a mindset that has gone. That is the past. We… in our circles, we talk about it being like a 1980s kind of ‘greed-is-good’ mindset, and we think too many Australian CEOs are locked in that.

Clip from the movie ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’:
This is the greatest company in the world. The question is this: was all this legal? Absolutely not.

Look, to be honest, I’m not surprised. I think, you know, compared to the rest of the world, we have a very short term view. You just have to look at our politicians and how we set policies and so on. So I’m not surprised that the Australian CEOs have a short term view. And you know, if I put my HR hat on, I think about the rewards and the recognitions and how companies have set up, you know, the short term incentives. And it’s all geared towards the individual and short term thinking.

I come from an IT world and I’ve been working with what is called agile for over a decade that has been around for about ten years before… ten or 12 years around the rest of the world before it was even adopted here, and it actually took a bit longer. So Australia is probably about 16 years behind the rest of the world on that.

But are we talking about something deeper here where it’s not just the CEOs in Australia, it’s actually the people of Australia who are stuck in a 1980s ‘greed-is-good’ mindset? I certainly had that experience. I remember when I came to Australia about 11 years ago for the first time and was confronted with the way that the real estate business works here. It was like: “What?!” You know, a person who I had paid to help me with doing things correctly when you’re buying a house, actually was doing things on the… you know, under the table with the person on the other side of the table. And I couldn’t believe it. What was that about?

Yeah, I think it’s about seeing it from a holistic lens, looking at the big picture, because all of these things play a part. Staying the property you’ve mentioned, it is only the rates rises we’ve talked about very recently and – or lack of rate rise – But then that prompted conversations about, well, how is the whole tax system set up here? And it’s set up… It’s the only country in the Western world which actually rewards losing money on a property investment – through the negative gearing and all of the things that go with that. So, you know… A few of the countries have negative gearing, but they have various caveats in there which stop it being a loose cannon. And so it’s about all the incentives. But the mindset shift, I think, is… There is no cause and effect. We need to change the whole view on how we look at things differently too and to nurse that mindset shift. But it needs leadership and it needs government and CEOs to lead that at the same time as us talking to the people at the bottom as well.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, one of the interesting things in that study was that a lot of our CEOs are quite old, you know, and I think for this revolution to occur, we can’t wait for all of these CEOs to retire. You know! I think we’ll be in a lot of trouble by then. So, how do we change the mindsets of our leaders in this country?

Hmm. But it’s a good point. The young people clearly get what’s going on with the climate and they take action on it in their personal lives. Whereas it’s – in my opinion – very often you see people who are, like, up in the sixties, even seventies, they have this sort of feeling of, “Well, we are entitled to this lifestyle that we have.” “Don’t tell us to change.” “We to have the right to choose a big polluting SUV,” or something. That whole discussion is about entitlement, isn’t it? That people feel that “I have this wealth and I have a right to luxury!”

And yeah, it’s going to be an interesting one, though, because we need vocal youngsters like your Gretas and the like. But they’ve got to be heard. And so we need people to listen to them as well as actually have them speak. There’s one thing to hear. There’s another thing to listen. And so we need more education, more awareness of what it needs, and more linking. Have you seen that tv show where they’ve got the children and the old folks home and they’re learning from each other and we almost need that in business.

The Beatles:
“You say you want a revolution…”

You know, we have had a youth revolution in our time. I certainly remember I came out of that youth revolution of the 1960s, which changed the world in many ways. It certainly changed the way that my parents were thinking about bringing their children up into the world and so on. So maybe we are, you know, a generation later, we are at that stage again where there’s a need for a youth revolution.

The Beatles:
“You say you got a real solution. Well, you know. We’d all love to see your plan.”

Quite a few studies by McKinsey recently on Gen Z. They’ve done looking at Gen Z across all different spectrums, you know, from engagement and so on, but one of the interesting ones – linking back to climate – is they care about climate change – and they want to work with companies that have a purpose and have a strong ESG strategy, not just greenwashing. So I think, these are our future leaders, and we need leadership at all the levels to enable that as well.

And so we have to be conscious that it’s not just the young people, it’s not just the old CEOs. It’s a combination of all of them. Because I’ve actually been to conferences where the CEOs are talking about sustainable actions and practices – and then got into the room and talked to some of the youngsters there, some of the people in their twenties who are working in those organisations and they’re going: “Oh, but we can’t change.” They’ve already had it knocked out of them and we can’t have that. We need to encourage it. We need to encourage that… because there’s going to be change whether we like it or not.

Australian industry has to change and not just… – and this is important in this context to talk about – not just for the sake of the environment or the climate or the future or all of these different things we could be talking about. No, actually, for the sake of your own company, because this is an economic aspect of it. There is an opportunity, but there’s certainly also a threat because if you don’t understand the change that is coming as a CEO, you might not be in business in, let’s say, five years from here because the customers out there, they are understanding what’s going on. You know, so we need that transition to happen if you want to stay in business.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think consumers are becoming a lot smarter and doing their research, right? So, for example, if you want to buy anything, you look at how sustainable a company is. I know I myself won’t buy something from a company that doesn’t even have a standard sustainability policy or an ESG strategy. So I think a lot of consumers across the board are becoming a lot more savvy in doing their due diligence. You just have to look at some of the super funds. They won’t… There are… I think it’s Australian – Sorry, one of the super funds, anyway… They won’t invest in any organisations that are in coal power or that don’t have an ESG focus.

That’s Future Super.

That’s it. Yes.

And therein lies you know… It’s consumers here in Australia. But that’s also the exporters and a lot of organisations are thinking, “Oh, we’re not exporting overseas.” Well, new regulations are coming in at the moment, which is what’s called Scope Three. For those who don’t know… That’s all of the things in your whole supply chain. And so if you’re supplying something, and one of your buyers is selling something to someone in Europe it’s not long before they’re going to go, “Oh, hang on a minute! I’m not buying from that supplier unless you change,” and then you will get knocked out. You might not survive, in, you know, somebody mentioned five years. It is within five years that this will impact most businesses here. That’s not long

No. And we’ve seen that happen across many other legislations from, you know, going back decades to sort of privacy legislation to more recently around modern slavery and that supply chain effect, which will impact businesses here.

Dr Andrew Forrest:
The difference between this world going green, stopping the use of fossil fuels, stopping destroying your future… It’s the character of about a thousand people. I’m one of them and I want to be held to account. And I need you to hold others like me to account and to say to those very captains of industry, you don’t have blood on your knuckles or your fingernails when this occurs – because it is occurring now – you will have blood up to your armpit and you will be held to account, because you did nothing. And your lack of character to not change your organisations, to educate your voters, your public, that fossil fuel subsidies can be changed to green energy subsidies without harming your public. You just have to get off your tail and stop self-promoting in front of a lectern and start getting out in front of your people and telling them why fossil fuel subsidies are destroying you and how it’s destroying your economy and how it’s removing the educational opportunities for your children, they’re your health sector standards, everything.

ABC Landline:
A report by Allan Fels has found rising prices were not just caused by true inflation, but often by greed, corporate gouging and profit pushing by companies with too much market power.

Climate change is not a tragedy. Climate change is a crime against humanity committed on the part of these oil companies. These reports are pretty scary, but are they true? Has there actually been any global warming? All of us would like to believe that corporations do the right thing. They’re not intentionally deceiving us or destroying the world. If we all work toward the same goal, I believe we can change the perceptions of the American people about energy. We need you to be an important part of it. Together we can make a difference. Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. For decades, fossil fuel companies have coordinated what is arguably the most consequential deception campaign in history. And so far, they’ve gotten away with it. We have a mountain of evidence showing that they knew for decades exactly where we’d be today and lied about it time and time again.

ABC News:
Well, this catastrophic weather event has caused havoc across Victoria. We’ve really seen a double disaster here. We’ve had fires destroy homes and catastrophic weather caused destruction across the state.

Dr Andrew Forrest:
It’s time for us to say global warming, climate change is not a future issue. It’s not a predictive issue. We have a really serious extension of this, which we’re seeing in deaths in India. We’ve seen deaths in China. We’ve seen in deaths around the world where people are incapable of escaping, not the heat, but the humidity, which kills them because they can’t get to air conditioning. This can lead to mass death events. It’s just numbers, just math, which would put World War II in the shade. So I’m saying to leaders like I’m saying to you in Oxford, now is the time to move. The threat is with us right now. It’s killing people as I speak. It’s not a future event. It’s a current event. We just don’t understand how serious it is. If you say, well, what happens next? I’ll say stampede behaviors, survival behaviors. When borders get crushed.

And this is what I want to say to you. We are able to fix this. This is a fixable problem. Bring it back to those thousand people. Bring it back to that 50 person subset. Politicians are beholden to the electoral cycle. We know that. So the answer is obvious. We need to eliminate fossil fuels. We need to turn to business to do that. And there are solutions. World shipping, even world aviation can move a lot quicker. If you say, “Let’s go do it by the 2040ies or 2050ies,” literally, you’re making it someone else’s problem. You are not taking it seriously at all. We all have a very serious role which we should be playing. We currently call ourselves an intelligent species, yet we’re putting $7 trillion a year into our own extinction in subsidies. That doesn’t sound like an intelligent species. What it actually is, is an intelligent species who do not have courage to change.

So I want to bring you back to this word, courage. I want you to have the courage to step out, put lethal humanity on the table. We’re not arguing about the science. We’re not arguing if it’s next year or next decade or 20, 40 or 50. We’re saying it’s right now. It’s killing people right now, and we have proof. We don’t need any more of your talk. It’s going to kill people. It is killing people. And all we don’t know is how many millions of people are going to die senselessly while you lazily don’t change how your company operates and how you operate.

And don’t say you can’t do it. The mining industry is apparently the laggard of the industrial world, the slowest to move. That’s not right. We’re putting $6.2 billion on the table. We started three years ago. We’ve already saved $400 million to make ourselves fully fossil fuel free by 2030, not 2040, not 2050. In that time era, which we must. That’s the time era, Oxford, which I need you to hold your politicians and your corporations to. Do not allow the 2040 or 2050 talk. Speak 2030. Then you’re hitting the pay packet, the bonus system, the electoral cycle of those thousand people who can stop global warming.

So one of the things that we’d like to do in this podcast is to actually give you some strategies that you can walk away with and not just us, you know, having a refund on and having a chat. So Alan, how can CEOs start to make a shift?

Be open-minded to where the business is now and what the opportunities are. Because it’s not all about costs. There’s lots of business opportunities through this adaptation. So explore what else can be done to help the business win.

I would say this is very much a collaborative approach that we need. We need to be together around this. There’s a CEO from the Netherlands who once said, “If you want sustainability in your company, you need people all across the organisation to share and to live by these values. The collective dynamic is the key to success.” And I think this is really… that’s why when I talk about collaborative: We need to work together around this. You don’t create that atmosphere in a company by being a strong CEO who comes and says, “Now we have to be together.” That’s not how it works, you know, to create that sort of sense of togetherness, you really need to engage people and to listen, maybe more than you talk.

And then that’s just… wrapping it back from where I came from, because this is… It it’s a bit of this and a bit of that. And they help each other. It’s when you actually… when you’re going out and looking: where are the opportunities? Talk to your employees – just as Mik shared there – and get those ideas, because they have a mine of information. Engage your employees!

I think you’ve both spoken about what they can do personally, I think one of the things that CEOs can do is start to look at what are the systems that we have in the organisation and what behaviors are they rewarding? Is it rewarding my individual short term gains and bonuses? Or is it rewarding the collective how as a company we grow but also look after all of our stakeholders?

Exactly. And also promoting sustainability.

Song: ‘Love Song To The Earth’
Keep it safe. Keep it safe. Keep it safe.
cause it’s our world
See Mama Earth is in a crazy mess
It’s time for us to do our best
from deep sea straight up to Everest
She under crazy stress
Unless you wanna be motherless
Clean heart, green heart
is the way I stress
Speediness and too much greediness
Six billion people all want plentiness
Some people think this is harmless
But if we continue there’ll only be emptiness

That’s just some of the topics that we’ll be covering in the coming episodes, and we’ll certainly be going out and talking with people in this field of being first movers and who understand which way the wind is blowing, so to say. At this point, I would say we have started the conversation about the business revolution, but let’s try and keep it short. I’m suggesting that we generally try to keep the episodes of around 20, maybe 25 minutes. In that sort of length. And our time is already up, folks. So congratulations: We’ve put the first episode on air or rather out in the streaming world of phones and computers.

And let’s start preparing for what we’ll be talking about in the shows to come. We’ll certainly be talking about the transport revolution and the energy revolution, which are two big topics, but also something about the role that businesses play in society at a time when we see governments failing, basically the governments worldwide are failing us. We, the people, are just looking towards leadership somewhere. And maybe it’s the business CEOs who have to step in here and show that kind of leadership that’s needed when we talk about the climate crisis and the many different crises that are rolling away with us at the same time.

Just adding to that, we’re going to cover this breadth of business domains but we mustn’t forget it’s not just about what is happening, it’s not just about what the opportunities are, it’s how we can get there, what can be done to help it. And we’ll be sharing a little bit of all of that because you need the whole lot to make the cake.

Shell advertisement:
“Zero starts here and it starts here. Zero starts here too. And here you can even start here and here, wherever you are on the energy journey, we can help. We know energy and together we can build a better energy future. Shell Energy – powering business towards net zero.”

To those of you who’ve been listening, thank you for listening this time and will be back soon with interviews and trying to create that sense of collaboration that we’ve been talking about creating a business revolution here in Australia.

Well, ciao for now!

And then, looking forward to the ongoing journeys that we’re all going to have together.

Dr Andrew Forrest:
I need you to say: We have solutions, we have technology and the solutions to stop global warming. Take them!

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The Business Revolution
The Business Revolution
Cherry, Alan and Mik

Podcast hosts Cherry, Alan and Mik are three consultants working independently in this field of transformation in Australia. In a series of interviews and segments they ask some of Australia’s leading experts, decision makers, sustainability officers, carbon accountants and employees how we make it happen - how we turn what is still just an idea, a mindset, into a genuine, serious and deep revolution and reinvention of how we do things in business.