BLYDE WAKE-UP CALLS
5 BURNING QUESTIONS TO WILLEM VAN DER SCHOOT, CEO AT HAVAS LEMZ
The past years have laid bare many truths about our current model of capitalism — the severe income inequality and the belief that human lives and environmental impact are expendable for better profit margins. The changemakers in the growing Certified B Corporation community are demanding an end to the myth that profits must come at the expense of purpose, and environmental and social care. It’s time to wake up, it’s time for action.
At Blyde, we question the status quo. We believe in the power of the collective, in taking a stand and inspiring people by showing what can and must be changed. In the Wake-Up Calls, Blyde stirs up hunger for positive change. We listen to several B Corp voices who talk about their call to action for companies around the globe today. By letting people from different perspectives and business speak, we would like to underline the important role of business in this decade of action. ‘On stage’ now: changemaker Willem van der Schoot, CEO at Havas Lemz.
At Havas Lemz you are serious about using ‘creativity as a force for good’. Looking back, what would you say was your wake-up call for contributing to a better world?
Not one moment in particular. At some stage – long ago – I decided to only do what matters and to forget about the nonsense. Especially in our industry, commercial creativity, it is obvious that you have a choice. Either you support brands and businesses that are more or less useless or even bad, or you deliberately help companies and organisations that have a positive mission. We love to team up with companies that are looking for more positive impact. Sometimes that can mean baby steps, but that is totally fine. It is about the journey and we should help each other. This mindset also leads to better quality of work, more intrinsically motivated relationships and the priceless feeling that we are using our talents the right way, that we are making a difference.
Positive impact is not always top of mind, like it is with your agency. What is your call to action for companies around the globe?
Meaning over money, I guess that sums it up. Use the power of your company, your people, networks, investments and innovation to drive positive change. By the way, if you don’t, you’ll be out of business soon, I believe. But I prefer to look at the opportunities side first. Where business meets purpose, and everyone acts from the heart, things will go so much better and easier. Once you have discovered this way of thinking, it drives everything you do.
Speaking of acting from the heart: which of the Sustainable Development Goals calls you most and why?
Well, roughly climate change and social injustice are the most important goals, right? But we do not want to focus on one SDG in particular. It is an entire system that needs to be changed. And it depends what topics are most relevant for any given organisation. So, based on the core business of a specific company, a connection can be made with one or more SDG’s. For instance, Douwe Egberts’ and Oranje Fonds’ Neighbour day is all about social cohesion, whereas Justdiggit is all about the climate and a better living for farmers in Africa. If all companies would find their sweet spot, we would create maximum system changes.
Call me a changemaker, maximum change no limitations: let’s fast-forward to 2030. What did you achieve?
We will have inspired the entire Havas network to use 100% of their creativity around the globe as a force for good. Amsterdam will play a central role in this, as the most inclusive agency around. The positive impact this could create would be massive.
In 2020 you started working with IKEA, Pfizer and Timberland. Large companies that could make even more impact if they would always put purpose over profit. If you could invite one of these or another company to join the B Corp community, which one would that be and why?
Wouldn’t it be great if the B Corp certification would be mandatory for all companies around the world? It should be the norm, don’t we think? Governments could easily push for this change, through laws and tax systems. We need to speed up the transition to a better, cleaner, more inclusive world and I believe we all need a push to get there. It would stimulate private and public companies, NGO’s and individuals to work together – bound together by their mission to achieve something positivemake positive impact. I believe these ‘coalitions for good’ are the future. Together, we can solve the biggest issues. And creativity can be the driver for fresh thinking and new energy. This is what motivates us immensely, even more so being a B Corp now.