Case Study

Precis Digital AB Stockholm, Sweden

SME Name
Precis Digital AB
SME Size
Medium (49-500)
Sector
Service
Industry
Digital Marketing

Lesson

Strong company culture based on values, transparency and good internal communication are key for positive internal and external impact. 

 

Background

Precis Digital is a data-driven digital marketing agency founded in 2012 by three former Google employees. With innovative thinking and latest technology Precis helps their customers to drive digital growth. Precis seeks to combine profit with purpose and positive change. Precis is aware of the dilemma of being active in an industry that drives consumption, and therefore have the mission to define the next-generation digital marketing agency characterized by sustainability, transparency, and high marketing ethics. 

Precis´ goal is to be the most sustainable digital marketing agency in Europe and to contribute to sustainable development for themselves, their industry, and their clients. This is accomplished by three commitments: 1) Precis leading the way in sustainability and set the example for the industry, notably through continuing to reduce their carbon emissions and offsetting all direct emissions, 2) Precis actively seeking out companies that are sustainability leaders and with business models that have a positive impact on society, e.g. through offering discounts 3) and by carefully and transparently selecting clients according to sustainability requirements, e.g. excluding certain industries as gambling and non-renewable energy. 

Precis has a strong company culture stressing the importance of diversity, sustainability and having a positive impact on people, society and the planet. 

In 2021 Precis is in the application process for becoming a certified B-Corp. 

 

Precis´ sustainability practices contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainability Story

In 2018 Precis started to challenge their thinking about their agency´s wider impact on society and realized that it was much bigger than anticipated. In 2019 the company could lower their CO2 emissions by 70 % and realized that there is more potential for positive impact. Precis´ Group COO has an intrinsic interest in sustainability and drives the topic passionately together with a project manager. The company has defined a sustainability strategy, a sustainability policy, 5 sustainability focus areas and 3 sustainability commitments that altogether provide clear guidance to the employees. The sustainability commitments are: ourselves doing it right, grow sustainable business ideas and sustainability portfolio. For their sustainability work, Precis has defined five sustainability focus areas: CO2 reduction, Impactful clients, Marketing ethics, Diversity & inclusion, Financial Sustainability. Precis´ ambition is to change the digital marketing industry and create positive societal impact through selecting impactful clients and supporting sustainable business ideas. But first Precis wants to make sure to walk the talk and get it right themselves, especially in terms of CO2 reductions and Diversity & inclusion. Financial sustainability is considered as a prerequisite for all the sustainability efforts. In order to be a responsible employer, a company needs to be financial stable and resilient, i.e. being able to ensure a long-term view and investments, to remain independent from third party investments and to sustain potential hard times (e.g. not to furlough any people during the covid pandemic). The company therefore reinvest a large part of profit in technology & R&D and builds up a significant cash reserve to sustain hard times.

Precis cultivates a strong company culture characterized amongst others by strong values, transparency, employee well-being and a focus on good internal communications. Precis considers their employees as assets and strives to attract (and keep) dedicated employees who feel connected to the company. The communication about values starts already in job interviews and onboarding of new staff, is continuously brought up in different formal and informal communication as reports and live streams. Moreover, Precis has an employee engagement platform for regular employee surveys which is also used for discussion of sustainability topics. The management transparently communicates normative and complex topics, e.g. why the management has decided to work with certain clients and what their impact on society is. The low resistance from employees on CO2 reduction measures (e.g. used instead of new company mobile phones, or travelling by public transport instead of taxi) can be regarded as proof of good internal communications and aligned values.  

When reflecting on capacities that foster a strong company culture and employee satisfaction, Precis COO identifies the following competences: to be able to deal with normative questions and complex problems, communicate transparently, deal with emotions, show empathy, act authentically and having a good understanding of what the employees are expecting from the company. A prerequisite for this is a value system and an intrinsic interest in engaging with those questions.

Precis Digital AB Practices

Precis Digital conducts sustainability practices in their 5 focus areas CO2 reduction, Impactful clients, Marketing ethics, Diversity & inclusion, Financial Sustainability. 

Practice 1: Low carbon business model with objective to enact positive change in industry Practice 2: Diverse & inclusive workplace with focus on well-being
Clear internal policies (environmental policy, IT & electronics, travel policy), action plans and sustainability commitments with 3 focus areas (electricity, IT products and recycling & waste) that are communicated to all employees and offices. (CO2 reduction)Define 3 focus areas: 1. senior level & leadership 2. workforce & teams 3. Enable all individuals to thrive
Monitoring CO2 footprint: monitor emissions from office heating/ cooling and electricity (CO2 reduction)Makes sure to have diversity at all levels and groups, e.g. through perspective panels
Installs energy saving devices, reuse/ circulare usage of IT equipment, etc. (CO2 reduction)Defines and monitors KPIs and set up local action plans
Organizing conscious office events, conscious purchasing and gifting (CO2 reduction)Monitors employee satisfaction through employee engagement platform
Monitor water usage & install water saving devices (CO2 reduction)
Actively seek "sustainable champions" with sustainable business ideas, through e.g. incentives like free consultancy (Impactful clients)
Strict sustainability requirement criteria & decision-tree for "high carbon" impact industries and "controversial" industries (Impactful clients)
Partnership with equity firms focused on sustainability to support start-ups (Impactful clients)
Monitoring and transparent reporting on portfolio companies (Impactful clients)
Formulation of marketing ethics: 1. Treat data with integrity 2. Make marketing a positive experience 3. Be transparent, always (Marketing ethics)
Try to positively influence big partners that steer the market, e.g. Google (Marketing ethics)
Client audit a.o. for privacy, inclusivity and representation (Marketing ethics)
Investment in technological solutions & communication that foster transparency (Marketing ethics)
Build a significant cash reserve to sustain hard times. (Financial sustainability)
Reinvest a large part of profit in technology & R&D (Financial sustainability)
Optimize equity structures to secure long-term leadership (Financial sustainability)

Pathway Map

Pathway maps represent the sequence businesses followed to implement successful sustainability practices and identify emerging ones within firms. The pathways also reveal the diversity of actors that begin to form sustainability enabling ecosystems for businesses to adopt, deploy or test sustainability practices.
Diverse & Inclusive Workplace with Focus on Mental Wellbeing
View the Pathway Map
Low Carbon Business Model with Objective to Enact Positive Change in Industry
View the Pathway Map

Enabling Factors for Practices

Precis´ sustainability practices are enabled by a number of key actors, policies, resources, and partnerships:

Internal to the organizationExternal to the organization
Strong leadership skill set that enables management to deal with complexity and normativity, to be able to communicate this in a transparent way to get employees on board with difficult normative question, e.g. which clients to support (e.g. aviation industry yes or no) Partnership with the impact investment organization Norrsken Foundation to support companies that are doing great things from a sustainability perspective to kind of grow
Strong company culture and a management that embodies the culture (authenticity, credibility, trust) in order to keep talent
Clear guidance of the employees through internal sustainability policies

Arresting Factors for Practices

Precis Digital has a number of barriers that hinders or stall growth or progress on their sustainability work:

Organizational arresting elements Description
Actors Potentially large players like Google and Facebook could be a hinder in Precis endeavour of improving marketing ethics, as Precis uses these tools and do not have impact on them
External factors Scope 3 emission reduction difficult due to lacking information about emissions

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