Our experience at the Better Business Network 2024


On January 17th, four members of the High-Rise team attended the Better Business Summit at Manchester’s Metropolitan University Business building. From doughnut economics and social media stunts to what to wear when the planet is burning, have a read of what we got up to!

The Better Business Summit is the annual flagship conference by the Better Business Network and betternotstop. From leadership and finance to activism, impact and empowerment, the theme of the 2024 conference was Radical Utopia. 

Our client Path Financial had been invited to speak on a panel in the afternoon. Seizing the opportunity, we brainstormed to maximise our presence by filming mini interviews for their social media channels.

We explored the exhibition in the main hall, before heading into the lecture hall for the welcome and opening talk. After this, we decided the best way to make the most of the day was to divide and conquer. Have a read of our experiences below!

Doughnut Economics

Emily attended a workshop on ‘Doughnut Economics,’ a 21st-century approach for businesses and countries to thrive. Coined by Kate Raworth in an Oxfam report, it gained recognition from the UN and Extinction Rebellion.

The Doughnut Economics Action Lab envisions the doughnut as a guide for 21st-century prosperity, balancing human needs within planetary limits. Countries either exceed and harm Earth’s life supporting systems. Or, they fall short on meeting essential needs and affecting quality of life.

Fun fact – the country that is closest to meeting the perfect ‘doughnut’ is Costa Rica!

The talk emphasised companies moving beyond sustainability to be regenerative, prioritizing repair over recycling. It advocated for distributive practices over divisive ones.

This 2018 TED Talk explains some of Doughnut Economics core messages in more detail.

Is creating Art the key to protecting the planet?

Sophie attended a session on art’s importance amidst digital media’s rise. It questioned if addressing climate change requires art to encourage change, not just tech.

It was great to listen in to this discussion which focused on the speakers love for art through music and how they have all made impactful steps in their journeys to avoid digital.

Death to ESG

This session was led by Phil Korbel, Founder of the Carbon Literacy Project. His talk surrounded why the label ESG can be self-limiting.

The talk emphasised mainstreaming better business beyond niche “eco” or “ethical” labels. We should explain ESG and connect more effectively.

Does it matter what I’m wearing when the world is on fire?

We attended Sophie Benson and Brett Staniland‘s impactful talk on fast fashion’s devastating effects on the planet. It questioned priorities amid crises. Does it matter what I’m wearing when the world is on fire? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it does.) 

Brett and Sophie’s talk started with some hard-hitting truths about the impact of fashion on the planet, upturning the unfounded belief that fashion is something frivolous and unimportant. Thanks to the prevalence of polyester in fast fashion clothing, fashion is now such an oil-dependent industry that it should alarm anyone that 100 billion garments are made every year, for only 8 billion people.

Fashion marketing will have us believing that we need something new for every occasion, or that we need to keep up with trends, which is probably why clothes are only kept half as long as they were just fifteen years ago, and the fast fashion industry churns out millions of micro-trends every year. 

You can read our blog on this for more information here.

Filming for Path Financial

Our client Path Financial were also attending the conference as they had been invited to talk on a panel in the afternoon. We wanted to make the most out of Path’s time at the conference and so hatched a plan to film some short interviews with fellow attendees around green pensions and climate change in the hopes of informing people on the massive impact. 

Financial planner Rowan Harding enthusiastically embraced our plans, and we got interviewing!  We captured a total of six interviews throughout the day. I then spent the next week editing all the clips together in the hopes of creating an engaging and informative video.

You can find the video here

Should we follow the money or emission? With Path Financial

The day drew to a close and the final talk we attended was with Rowan herself! Rowan’s panel discussion was titled ‘should we follow the money or emissions?’ and was hosted by musician and activist Jon Robb. The talk was about the importance of how businesses handle their money in building a better world, where should purpose driven businesses put their money, and does it matter if a business has a net zero policy if they don’t pay a liveable wage or avoid paying taxes?

As the day concluded, we attended Rowan’s panel, “Should we follow the money or emissions?”. Hosted by Jon Robb, it explored how businesses, especially purpose-driven ones, allocate funds for a better world. The discussion delved into the dilemma of whether a business’s net-zero policy matters if it doesn’t prioritise fair wages and tax payments.

The other speakers included Mary Patel from the Fair Tax Foundation, and Eleanor Akers from Innovative Energy Consultants.