Ian Ault talks about defining DTB’s core values under the ESG banner, creating DTB Connected and more

What difference have the actions I’ve promoted over these columns actually made to us at DTB? Well, 12 months ago Covid was in the rear view mirror and everyone was busy getting back on with business. This masked the underlying changes that had happened to the market and its needs. The opportunity to rebuild and ‘do it better’ was there.

At DTB, we knew what we did but we wanted to work on why we did it. We had always tried to be mindful of environmental issues and also to look after our staff, but both were unfortunately compromised at times to ensure operating stability. It was a ‘way’ of working, but it wasn’t clearly defined or delivered consistently throughout the business.

By working with partners mentioned in previous columns, such as consultancy Business DR and Innovate UK Edge, we set about defining DTB’s core values under the ESG banner – environment, social, governance, (aka people, planet, profit, plus we added ‘i’ for innovation).

DTB Connected

We grouped this together under DTB Connected, which we defined as being “an ethos, a conduit to connect DTB with its partners, aligning core values and the structure of ESG(i) with the aim of creating and developing shared values and knowledge that are mutually beneficial to all parties”.

And the task? We wanted to investigate and implement digital transformation to get systems to talk to each other not just within DTB but directly with customers and suppliers; create a training centre to educate customers, suppliers and internal teams; and take part in local initiatives.

All very laudable aims, but how could we embed them? By investing in time, people and training. By establishing and enhancing skills where they were needed – thanks to a combination of business networks and grants we were able to access specialist skills that we didn’t yet have in the business. We also changed the reporting structure within DTB from its previously autocratic ‘top to bottom’ method to one of more collaborative ‘bottom to top’ communication.

The consequence?

I am proud to say that the journey around the business today is a very different one to 12 months ago. We have had confusion and difficulties along the way, and we’ve had to make some tough decisions, but there is now more ownership and accountability and a unified understanding of the why. And this was all done without losing sight of the fact that we still need to do the what effectively and efficiently, and continue to be innovative. This is not, then, the end of our activity, but just the beginning.

Behind all of our achievements has been the development and buy-in from our people. Success starts and ends there. Good luck.

Ian Ault is the MD of DTB, which supplies and decorates textile products. It includes TranSmart, and has a European presence with DTBeu. DTB’s mission statement is “Fairness and Partnerships”.