Five minutes with Juliet Davenport
We caught up with Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy – a leading renewable energy supplier. Juliet and her team supply more than 71,000 business and household electricity customers, 42,000 household gas customers and support more than 137,000 homes and business to generate their own energy. Below, Juliet talks about getting girls into STEM, retaining an entrepreneurial workplace culture and the importance of keeping things simple.
Describe your organisation’s purpose
Purpose is at the core of our business. It always has been. “Our purpose is to empower people by giving them the choice to look for a cleaner, greener future.” Helping customers reduce their carbon footprint and empowering them to behave in a different way is what Good Energy is all about.
How would you describe the culture at your organisation and how do you maintain it?
Getting culture right can be tough. One underlying aspect of our culture is that – despite the fact that we’ve been going for a long time – we are still very much entrepreneurial. In the way that entrepreneurs are really determined, we are collectively determined. There’s a brilliant quote which we live by here and it sums up our way of working: “Simplicity is complex. It’s never simple to keep things simple. Simple solutions require the most advanced thinking.”
Does your organisation do any work in your local community?
We are sponsoring a local rugby team which encourages boys and girls to play rugby at the same level. We really support this kind of diversity at the grassroots level. As well as this, we will be running a local STEM programme with the local schools that really focuses on girls. At the moment, 15% of UK graduates are STEM – we want to see that number increase.
What is the main thing that attracts talent and retains talent in your organisation?
The purpose and the values of the business – who we are, how we are and what we do.
In your experience, what is the best way to build diverse teams?
First, you have you make sure you know what diversity actually is. When we first started out, we built and built and at some point I looked around and thought “Oh. We’re not actually that diverse are we.”
I learned that one of the reasons we weren’t attracting women was to do with flexibility. After starting families, many women were not able to commit to working in the same way they had previously. So, we began offering more flexible working hours. I found that when you get good people it doesn’t matter if they work four or five days a week. You will always get a huge amount of value from them.
We are now running a company-wide diversity workshop. Part of this involves reminding people of about diversity, particularly when it comes to hiring. We want to see evermore diverse lists of potential hires. We want the company to know that it is not acceptable to have an all-white male finalists list in the running for a leadership role.
What has been the best decision your organisation has ever made?
The best decision we made was allowing our customers to own part of the company [customers own 60% of Good Energy.] This has given us a huge amount of patient capital – capital that understands what the purpose of the business is.
What would you say represents the biggest opportunity for your organisation in the next five years?
The biggest opportunity is around integrating technology with our product. We’re really looking at improving our digital presence, while adding value to the customer experience. We’re also thinking about the opportunities the electrical engine will have on us as part of the energy industry.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
There are so many pieces. Sometimes it’s not direct advice, but rather listening to other people tell their story and get an insight into the mistakes they have made and what they learned. I really enjoy listening to entrepreneurs – one thing that usually comes up is that “you should always trust yourself. Trust your instinct and trust your intuition.”
What does a Vibrant Economy mean to you?
A Vibrant Economy is one where businesses recognise their power to innovate and create positive change. It’s an economy where businesses are truly purposeful.