What does it mean to be part of the Business against Poverty movement?
Can membership make a tangible positive difference to your company, your team and your future? In our latest member interview, we speak with Graham Massey, Co-Founder of The House, about being built on purpose – and positively impacting lives and livelihoods.
Can you tell us a little about your business – who are you, where you’re based and what you do?
The House is a purpose-led consultancy that helps organisations lead for a better future.
We’ve built The House on our personal passion for business, leadership and storytelling. When I say ‘our’, I’m referring to me and Steve Fuller, my brilliant, faithful friend and business partner. The short story is that we met by chance whilst working for rival leisure sector organisations. We founded The House in 1996, without hesitation. Two men with very different characters, backgrounds and life experiences but with complementary values. We built The House on the rock of two fundamental beliefs; that the ‘purpose of business’ is to serve other people, not just those that own it; and that when business is built on purpose, it can be a force for good in the world.
It’s a sign of the times that business is more trusted than government, so now, more than ever, I feel we have a responsibility to play a part in meeting the challenges the world is facing. For us, becoming a BCorp back in 2016 cemented our company manifesto to be, ‘Built on Purpose’.
The city of Bath has always been our spiritual home. Bizarrely, over the course of 25 years, we’ve had small offices in Hong Kong, Chicago and Cheshire. Steve is still based here in Bath and I’m now based in Budapest, Hungary.
What does The House do best?
I guess you’d really have to ask our clients that but, I’d say; we work with leaders to clearly define why their organisation exists, what it exists to do in the world (other than make money) and help them to translate that ‘entity’ into a meaningful and authentic story, find a purposeful advantage, create a healthy culture and define measurable success that positively impacts lives and livelihoods.
What we do best is bring absolute clarity and alignment to purpose, vision, values (behaviours) and write a compelling and authentic story. We accelerate the time it takes for leadership to feel clear, equipped and confident about the future of their organisation and how they will create it.
What types of customers do you work with?
Currently, we are working with senior leadership of commercial, local authority and charitable organisations in social housing, education, renewable energy, health technology, learning disability and consumer behavioural research and intelligence, in the crucial areas of purpose and identity, leadership development, organisational culture, community building and place making.
How long have you been a Business against Poverty member?
From the very beginning: I’m not even sure I can tell you when it really began; I was seduced slowly! In 2005, I travelled to lasi in Romania to experience first-hand the power of the work being done by the people on the ground. Once you’ve stood in that world, I’d defy anyone not to be moved to support Val [Huxley] and the team for as long as they are able. I’ve personally sponsored children and families in Romania ever since – via People against Poverty – which has been a blessing on my life in more ways than I can relate here.
Why did you choose to join the Business against Poverty movement?
Because they do it differently. I’ve learnt so much from the work that The House has been commissioned to undertake with charitable organisations over the years. I have a daughter in the charity sector and have learnt a great deal from her about the systems that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Business against Poverty (via People against Poverty) is different in the way it works inside the system and on the ground with people who understand the local culture and its people’s needs.
I suspect that I speak for the many people who have joined when I say how much I admire Val and Bill Huxley and the manner in which they have led the charity over years. Their heart-led commitment, unstinting and faithful dedication to the cause and the people it benefits is a shining example to us all.
What would you say are the biggest benefits of being part of this community?
The movement is what the movement does! The strength of any organisation is the people who are attracted to it, in whatever capacity – perhaps more so for a charitable organisation. I see a healthy membership best demonstrated through active participation; you reap what you sow. I have vivid memories from participation in membership days, strategy sessions, AGM’s, social events and especially the fundraising auctions and balls. Brilliant times, deep friendships and many stories.I’d say, the biggest benefit is ownership, generated by a depth of relationship and loyalty built over years. Surely, a key indicator of strength in any movement is how its ‘community’ responds to a challenge of any kind – to which you can now add a global pandemic! The leadership has adopted a regenerative mindset, reinventing programmes, involving and communicating with its membership.
Would you recommend Business against Poverty membership?
I am sure that what we are exposed to and experience in life has a significant bearing on the causes and charities we choose to support – if you like, they become the charities ‘for me’.
I see Business against Poverty like a movement with an active manifesto, more a charity for ‘we’ than a charity for ‘me’. To be a member of the movement it asks us (as business owners) a simple question: Are we prepared to share a little of our good fortune to change the fortunes of others, for good?
Lastly, as a successful business owner, is there any advice that you’d give to other businesses right now?
Stay true, stay strong, stay frosty! Oh, and support Business against Poverty!
Business against Poverty is an accredited membership community. Its members directly support the humanitarian work of People against Poverty – a registered, independent charity that aims to help alleviate poverty and suffering around the world. People against Poverty’s projects are designed to empower greater self-sufficiency, give new hope and build a more sustainable future. Join a movement for change today.
Interview conducted by Ben Veal, Founder of Second Mountain Comms and Trustee for People Against Poverty.