Creating a better future of work

It’s always great to share ideas with Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of The B Team, and our discussion at a recent 100% Human at Work gathering was no exception.

Richard Branson and Halla Tomas - 100% Human At Work gathering 2019

The event brought together 150 businesses from the 100% Human at Work network to brainstorm how businesses can create a better future of work for humanity.

We spoke about everything from tackling inequality, redefining success, the importance of trust and why you should run your business like a family. I also had the pleasure of meeting the team from Change Please again – they are a Virgin StartUp coffee company tackling homelessness in the UK, which is served on-board both Virgin Trains and Virgin Atlantic. Spending time with entrepreneurs who are scaling positive change never gets old.

Richard Branson - Change Please team

At the gathering, we spoke a lot about the crisis of trust that the world is experiencing. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, people now trust their employer to do what is right more than government, media and even NGOs. Businesses need to honour this level of trust by being transparent and holding ourselves to account.

As I suggested during the discussion, we need to regularly ask ourselves, ‘are we doing everything we need to look after our people?’ ‘Are we investing in the right things?’ ‘Are we speaking out about issues we feel strongly about?’. Halla added that in an increasingly polarised world: “Businesses need to build bridges, instead of exaggerating the divide.”

Halla Tomas - 100% Human At Work gathering 2019

It’s for this reason that The B Team and Virgin Unite established 100% Human at Work. We wanted to use our voice to bring businesses together, foster trust and transparency, and scale solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. As I looked out over the bustling room of business leaders, I was struck by how much the network has grown and the positive impact it is creating in areas such as good governance, net zero commitments and putting humanity at the heart of business.

Across the Virgin Group, this has led to and built upon initiatives such as Better Chances, which provides employment opportunities for marginalised and disadvantaged groups such as ex-offenders and refugees; Virgin Media’s partnership with Scope, which aims to support one million disabled people to enter the workforce work by the end of 2020; and numerous gender equality initiatives such as Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to achieving 50/50 parity between men and women in leadership positions by 2022.

These initiatives don’t come without their challenges, but as Halla reminded everyone at the gathering: “Doing the right thing always delivers in the long-term.”

Richard Branson and Halla Tomas - 100% Human At Work gathering 2019

At the gathering we also spoke about the importance of finding joy at work - a topic I’m particularly passionate about. When you spend so much of your life at work, you should do everything you can to make it fun and rewarding. Work should be something you’re passionate about – something that will allow you to be part of something bigger in the world. But how do you create this positive culture at work at a management level? As I reminded everyone at the gathering:

“Be spontaneous, have fun and say ‘screw it, just do it.’”

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