Posted in Insights

Good to Great: Moving beyond compliance

The last piece I wrote on Due Diligence received great feedback. I was asked to talk about Moving beyond compliance as a standalone topic. Dear Mansu, this is for you! So, to the business of the day.

What does it mean to move beyond compliance?

Being compliant simply means you are aware about a set of rules and regulations guiding activities you are involved in and you try all your best to obey the rules so as to avoid penalties, fines or legal issues. In the business world today, unfortunately, this is the situation. Moving beyond compliance is taking extra steps to look at the rationale of compliance and seeking innovative ways to take advantage of compliance to save money and also make more money. I would love to use our hypothetical bakery Ethical bakeries – perhaps I might have a bakery one day.

Ethical Bakeries is located in Lagos and because the owner hates to pay fines or have legal issues with the government or anyone, the owner ensure that they comply with all applicable regulations – waste water quality, air emission quality, indoor air quality, solid waste disposal etc. One day, Ruky, a sustainability enthusiast walks into the bakery to grab some healthy bites and met the environmental, health and safety rep. She asked a few questions about how they maintain indoor air quality and the rep responded proudly that they complied with every regulation that covered their business. She was intrigued and asked why they did it. he responded by telling her that they had to be on the good side of the law. Impressed that we still had businesses that did not like to wait till problems arise, she went further to ask him “if the law did not require you to do all of these, would you still do it?” As he was about to respond, the owner of the business walked in on them and exchanged pleasantries. She asked the question again and there was a long silence.

If there no laws, would you still do it?

Imagine if there were no air pollution limits and you could pump out untreated water as you wish. What if you could treat workers as you deem fit, with no laws protecting them or you could churn out products with no regulatory testing for market fitness. Would you still take your time, money and energy to ensure that you business activities do not hurt people intentionally, managed environmental resources effectively, treated workers fairly? If you answered yes in your gut, accept my imaginary hug as I welcome you to the league of businesses that are on the path to become value and purpose driven. if ypou answered no in your gut, accept my imaginary hug too because you would have to schedule a meeting with me as we need to reevaluate why exactly you are in business then we can start from there.

Money-driven versus Purpose-driven

I would like to use the internet fraudster analogy. The driving force behind their dastardly acts is the quest for money. When money is the sole goal, you would do anything and damn the consequences as long as money was going to come in. This is why its easy for some shortsighted business owners to cut corners, evade tax, treat workers unfairly, and short pay suppliers. Meanwhile a business that has a purpose as its driving force would always go back and refer to the purpose of why they are in business even during down times. Purpose would help you move beyond compliance, integrate strategies that protect people, the environment in which you conduct business and continuously seek ways to be economically viable as you do all of these. If you are in the business of cooking meals, why are you cooking? Anyone can cook so what added value are you bringing? What would make people hand pick you out of a 100 people cooking meals?

Having no lawsuits can make you a good company but creating a culture around purpose would set you on a path to greatness. If Ray Anderson of Interface, Don Petersen of Ford, Phil Knight of Nike could do it, please take your time and innovate away.


Hey, I'm Ruky and I started this blog to share my views on sustainability and the contemporary issues around it. In recent times, environment and sustainability issues have been attracting the attention of businesses and government. In spite of this, there is still a lot of misconception and confusion around these issues. This is why I decided to create this tiny blog to share my journey into embracing sustainability and I am sure you would enjoy every bit of it.

One thought on “Good to Great: Moving beyond compliance

  1. First, laws were made to guide against repeated occurrence of an event, so if there actually is no law, no one is wrong.
    I like the hypothetical twist, it is interesting.


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