In the latest of our series profiling ‘Women Leaders in Sustainability’, we interviewed Charmian Love, Co-founder and Chair of B Lab UK.
Charmian believes in the power of business as a force for good. She is an active champion of the global B Corp movement and is Co-Founder and Chair of B Lab UK. Charmian is currently Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Said Business School, Oxford University. She also Co-Founder of Volans and serves on the Board of B Team UK.
1. As a change maker within your industry, tell us a bit more about your background?
I grew up in a family of changemakers and I was very influenced by the people who I respect who actively took on big, audacious, hairy challenges. I was raised to believe that we all have a very human role to play in life and if we see things that we want to change we should get on and change them.
2. What are the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get you where you are today and how did you address them?
I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life but do realise that I am in a very privileged position so they are all relative, compared to those facing many people in the world.
A big challenge for me was leaving Canada to go the US for business school. It was a big step for me to leave Toronto and my family, even though it was a brilliant opportunity.
It was there that I met my husband who is British. We only met in the last few weeks before graduation, so we started a transatlantic relationship, and eventually we together made the decision that to be together it made the most sense for me to move to the UK at that time – however we would keep a conversation alive over the course of our partnership to revisit this and use what is best of our family as the guide to where we would live.
The initial process of moving was a big challenge. However the resiliency I learned was that life is all about your outlook and attitude. While I missed my family, moving to a new and different place enabled me to be more open to new things, to build new networks and meet new tribes. This allowed me to stretch myself and to grow and develop in so many new ways I could never had planned or expected. It was in this process that I became an entrepreneur and met many amazing people who have helped me expand my worldview.
Life throws interesting curve balls and I have to believe in the power of the universe and that if you are open to it and pick up the signals it sends, it can help you to find your pathway.
3. What unique qualities do you have that enable you to make a difference in your work?
I don’t think that I have any unique qualities. I believe everyone has the innate human gifts for creating change.
It isn’t about any individual unique skills – it is about how we all work together. I think you can build that trust when you are part of a community. So, for example, when you become a B Corp you sign a declaration which is all about interdependence. It’s not about you at the middle, it’s about how through working together we help to create change together.
4. What advice would you give to our community who want to create more impact and influence in the workplace?
To trust and recognise your intuition, sometimes it’s guided by other forces, and sometimes it’s just about letting it shine through.
However we all need to find our own personal ways to be resilient. Everyone should feel comfortable finding their own pace. It’s not a sprint – it’s a marathon!
What successes have you witnessed that we should all be celebrating?
I have huge hope and think there is a lot to be excited and positive about.
I am hopeful by seeing the impact of a range of movements which seem to be building up energy. Whether it’s #MeToo or other movements – collections of people coming together and having a voice is inspiring. It feels like it’s happening. Change is happening.
5. When it feels like the world is going crazy, what keeps your vision and passion alive?
By being around young people. Also I have great friends – I am part of a women’s dinner series with a group of women, kindred spirits and fellow travellers, who usually meet every few weeks. . I find inspiration from young people but also from these intergenerational conversations too.
6. Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by my family, my mum inspires me, I aspire to be like her.
I’m inspired by the person who is willing to be kind as part of everyday life. The person who says thank you to a bus driver. It is so amazing to see how that act of kindness and gratitude sets off a chain reactions.