What does it take to be an ethical champion?

We have been shortlisted for the PRCA Ethical Champions Award for best small agency.  For Greenhouse, being ethical is not a tick in the box or a nice-to-have. It’s who we are and it’s why we do what we do.

We set up Greenhouse PR from the beginning with a single-minded belief in the power of PR to drive positive social and environmental change.  Our mission stems from a deep-rooted commitment to address climate change and its impact on the world’s poorest people.

So our ethics and our values are at the heart of everything we do – from our mission, to the clients we work with, to how we look after our staff, and how we manage the business.

We work with clients with a track record of pioneering sustainability across the key sectors in need of radical transformation – energy, food, transport and finance. We work exclusively with businesses, entrepreneurs and NGOs that have the ideas, technologies, products and services offering solutions to the big challenges we face. The campaigns we run range from tackling the issue of gender equality in the cotton supply chain, to campaigning to drive pension fund divestment from fossil fuels.

Looking after our staff

Our shared mission and purpose has created a company culture based on mutual respect and support, where happy and motivated staff are intrinsic to our success.

We run weekly yoga classes, provide organic fruit, fund free tickets to green festivals and encourage walking and cycling to work.  We run the business on green energy, commit to buying ethically sourced products, work with local suppliers and actively engage with our local community.

We are committed to staff development, that means that invest more than £18,000 per year in professional training, as well as providing personal coaching for account managers and above.

Everyone is actively encouraged to seek out development opportunities they feel could enhance their work, funded by Greenhouse, and to support charitable causes they feel passionately about.

Recruiting and retaining the best

At Greenhouse, we hire people committed to having a positive impact, that are passionate about environmental issues.  New recruits are provided with a welcome pack which explains our policies – from recycling to ethical banking.

We pride ourselves on encouraging parents to return to the workplace by offering flexible packages, including part-time hours and working from home. We ensure we benchmark salaries and reward our employees with annual bonuses. All employees are promoted and paid equivalent to their work and the results they achieve and not according to age or gender.

Interns are paid above minimum wage and are provided with a line manager and a comprehensive training programme whilst in the role to ensure they fulfil their abilities and get the best out of the placement.

How are ethics affect how we manage clients

We strive to provide an outstanding service with real impact. Our clients are our best advocates, which is reflected in our client retention – in 2016 and 2017 we kept all retained clients.

We are approached by a broad range of clients and we make decisions on who to work with based on strict ethical criteria. Prospective clients are evaluated by the team in three stages: research on the business and its impact, a discussion among colleagues, and feedback from influencers in the green economy. We turn away clients if we are not unable to commit wholeheartedly to their business.

Our clients have big ambitions but restricted budgets. When we develop communications campaigns for them, we look at ways to maximise the impact of their budget, advising them on what to keep in house and where we can add real value.

We are totally transparent on pricing and share detailed budget breakdowns with our clients. We strive to secure the best possible price for bought-in services using local suppliers wherever possible and we don’t charge our clients a handling fee.

Safeguarding ethical business practices

Our B-Corp certification was a fundamental step to ensuring our ethical business practices are embedded in every aspect of the company. It’s a process that’s repeated every two years and provides vital independent validation that our policies and practices reflect our ethical and environmental claims.

All members of the team are regularly consulted and included in weekly meetings and planning sessions about the growth of the business and working practices, to ensure we are both transparent and inclusive.  Each employee has their own areas of interest which they actively pursue through the blog and profiling pioneers.

Our commitment to pro-bono support

We support 1% profit for the planet and contribute annually to four charities that address climate change: Send A Cow, Renewable World, Water Aid and Tearfund.  Greenhouse also invests 30% of consultancy time pro-bono to help scale mission-driven NGOs and smaller enterprises driving change from Women in Sustainability, to Bristol Soup (Dragon’s Den of charities) and Bristol Green Capital Partnership, to name but a few.

We aspire to inspire. We want to encourage other UK PR agencies to address the issue of sustainability and the significant challenges that we face, and to collaborate to help scale the change we need to see.