“If you’re conscious at all about what’s going on in the world and the changes that are needed, it’s obvious to me that business has a tremendous role to play in the transformation to a more equitable, social and environmental world.”
That’s what gets Christopher Roy out of bed every morning. Christopher runs Marketworks, his own consulting agency that provides digital marketing for a growing number of businesses that consider societal benefits, social change and environmental sustainability to be essential parts of their business offering. His clients are the kinds of enterprises that are doing business differently, operating more in relationship with the natural world, lead by people putting social and environmental benefits ahead of profit. “That’s pretty powerful to me,” he says, with a wise twinkle in his eye.
Christopher sees the end of capitalism’s current form on the horizon: “Just like everyone, I have really important and practical needs. I have to work every day in something I believe in to provide a good life for me and my family.” But like many, he struggles to reconcile this need with businesses’ typically depletive or extractive approach to capitalism. Instead, he’s interested in businesses that are finding ways to give and to be generative. Instead of leaving behind a degraded environment and degraded social fabric, he is helping to build profitable companies that leave a legacy of an improved environment, improved social relationships, and improved community integrity.
What’s ahead, in a new era of capitalism?
Of course, a new era of capitalism isn’t a simple proposition! Christopher thinks businesses are going to have to find a new way of being that is bigger than the current economic framework based on profit and traditional capitalism. “There’s a need for new emerging models—models that will revolutionize every aspect of modern life.”
The challenges ahead aren’t simple. Christopher thinks we need to look to new models of business innovation so we can house ourselves, feed ourselves and have a good life without destroying the natural world. He sees technology contributing many answers, but even that isn’t as simple as it seems. While tech will make things incredibly efficient, automating and transforming whole industries, that same automation will mean millions of employees will no longer be required. “So what’s going to become of those people? What will the economic ecosystem look like then?” It’s a hard future to imagine; yet, of course, not all is bleak.
Advances abound when entrepreneurs integrate innovation, compassion and a sense of purpose.
Christopher sees many social entrepreneurs—often young people—hatching new ideas, and integrating innovation, compassion and a sense of shared purpose to build environmental and social responsibility into their businesses. “The world needs that kind of push and transformation.”
When asked what message he would give to this next generation, Christopher draws from his own experience. “Many things that have seemed to be insurmountable, and impossible to imagine happening in the past, can actually happen. Given enough time, the will to change, and the right people showing up, it can happen.”
“Over time, things always move toward the good.”
Christopher believes change is possible even where it seems most unlikely. “There is some amazing reconciliation happening in different parts of the world. We can change the energy economy; we can change the political environment. Over time, things move toward the good. It just takes people showing up to make that happen.”
It’s a hopeful and inspiring view of the world—and one that carries across Christopher’s work, his family life—and his love for building and making things with his hands. He’s learning to carve traditional dugout canoes with a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations master carver as his way of honouring and respecting local indigenous culture. And he’s currently building his own home on his beloved Salt Spring Island.
All in all, Christopher Roy is a shining example of what it looks like to ‘be the change.’