13th March 2022
HIGH STREET ROYALTY SETS SIGHTS ON QUEEN’S SPEECH
- Mary Portas, Queen of Shops, joins as Co-Chair of campaign to update law in upcoming Queen’s Speech
- The Better Business Act, supported by over 1,000 businesses, would update company directors’ duties on environmental and social impact
Mary Portas, the high-profile business woman, today announced at the Women of the World Festival that she will co-chair the Better Business Act (BBA) campaign. The BBA calls on the government to amend the law governing how companies are run to better reflect their social and environmental responsibilities.
She will co-chair a coalition of over 1,000 UK-based businesses, including Iceland, The Body Shop, innocent drinks and Anglian Water, who are calling for a Better Business Act to be included by the government in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.
Discussing the benefits of responsible business at the conference, Portas said:
“We have to unlearn all that we have learnt in business. Here’s the thing. The world isn’t filled with bad people doing bad things. It’s filled with mainly good people misguided under the sway of bad ideas. People are incentivised badly. Growth and profit needs to be replaced with People. Planet. Profit. In that order. Kindness isn’t soft. In fact these are the hard skills for the people leading business. How to listen, love and respect all the people that you work with. That’s the hardest thing to do. It takes courage and perseverance. But it will create a kinder, more freeing and collaborative future for us all.”
The Better Business Act – also backed by the Institute of Directors – would amend Section 172 of the Companies Act which sets out the ‘job description’ for company directors to ensure they align social and environmental impact with shareholder returns.
Portas joins Douglas Lamont, CEO of innocent drinks, as Co-Chair of the campaign. The coalition will be taking its call to Westminster on April 20th as part of ‘Better Business Day’.
Commenting on her appointment as Co-Chair of the Better Business Act Coalition, Portas said:
“I believe business can be a force for good in society. British entrepreneurs and businesses are the backbone of our communities up and down the country and many are responsible businesses that look after their staff, give back to the communities that support them, and reduce their environmental footprint.
“These businesses deserve the certainty and support in law that would level the playing field for responsible decision-making. But as things stand, the Companies Act still allows some companies to pursue profits at the expense of people and the planet.
“Given the very real challenges faced by communities and the environment, we cannot abandon our social and environmental responsibilities in the pursuit of profit. What the Better Business Act is asking for is very simple really. By making a small change to the duties of company directors, we will see big changes in the real world. That’s why consumers, voters, investors, and so many businesses are behind it.”
“The government wants to tackle the climate crisis, promote global Britain and level up our country. It won’t achieve any of these without business operating at its best. I’m inviting anyone who agrees to join me in Westminster on Better Business Day, on April 20th.”
Douglas Lamont, CEO of innocent drinks and Co-Chair of the campaign, commented:
“I’m really excited about Mary becoming a co-chair of the Better Business Act campaign. In just under a year we have grown to a coalition of over 1,000 businesses, who prove that acting responsibly can go hand-in-hand with success and profitability. We have been meeting with MPs up and down the country to make the case for the Better Business Act to make a real difference to company law. With Mary’s energy and expertise, I am confident we can take this movement to another level and ultimately achieve our goal having the law changed as we work towards harnessing the power of business to build a fairer and more sustainable future.”
Notes to Editors
About Mary Portas
Mary Portas is one of the UK’s most high-profile businesswomen. After making her name transforming Harvey Nichols into London’s sexiest fashion destination, Mary launched her own retail consultancy and creative agency, Portas, which continues to work with and advise businesses ranging from Louis Vuitton to Sainsbury’s. She has been a regular on our TV screens, advised the government on the future of high streets and developed a fashion label. Her proudest achievement to date is the creation of twenty-six Mary’s Living & Giving shops for Save the Children. She is the author of Shop Girl and Work Like a Woman. Her talk was for TedxLondon, exploring “The Kindness Economy”, a view on the future of how we shop and live in the 21st century has formed the basis of her #1 ranking podcast of the same name, and her most recent book, Rebuild; How to thrive in the kindness economy, published by Penguin Random House.
About the Better Business Act
The Better Business Act (BBA) is a business-led campaign, driven by leaders who recognise that the law has fallen behind business culture and who have proven that this approach to business works for everyone.
The BBA is urging all of Britain’s business leaders to call on the Government to amend Section 172 of the Companies Act to ensure businesses are legally responsible for benefiting workers, customers, communities and the environment while delivering profit.
To achieve this, we are bringing together a broad and growing coalition of leaders from across all sectors and all regions of the UK to help deliver this new contract between business and society.
For further information, please contact:
Better Business Act