Leading the way

Scotland has been championing the concept of a wellbeing economy for awhile now.  With Scotland’s National Performance Framework in 2007 which was reviewed in 2018 and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s  TED Talk, Why governments should prioritize well-being in 2019.  Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand established the network of Wellbeing Economy Governments to challenge the acceptance of GDP as the ultimate measure of a country’s success (interestingly, all of these countries are currently lead by women).  And most recently, Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation was announce this March which states;

“Our vision is to create a wellbeing economy: a society that is thriving across economic, social and environmental dimensions, and that delivers prosperity for all Scotland’s people and places. We aim to achieve this while respecting environmental limits, embodied by our climate and nature targets.”

A well-being economy provides people with equal opportunities for advancement, a sense of social inclusion, and stability—all of which contribute to human resilience—and, importantly, sustains and supports harmony with the natural world.  This is no small task and our strategies and frameworks are useful for governments.  However, how that all plays out, is a bit more complicated.

We are all connected.

Keystone Women thinks about a wellbeing economy in terms of how everything and everyone is connected. If you appreciate the interplay of all things, you understand that economic wellbeing improves societies. The reason I set up Tribe Porty and Keystone Women was a way to build human capital.  Finding a fulfilling working like, in community, and prioritising social, physical, spiritual and creative connections have big positive outcomes for individuals and communities. I have seen this in action time and time again. Being connected not only helps you thrive in business, it is good for your health.  According to The King’s Fund;

A person’s social networks can have a significant impact on their health. One largescale international study showed that over seven years, those with adequate social relationships had a 50 per cent greater survival rate compared with individuals with poor social relationships (Holt-Lunstad et al 2010). Social networks have been shown to be as powerful predictors of mortality as common lifestyle and clinical risks such as moderate smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity and high cholesterol and blood pressure (Pantell et al 2013; Holt-Lunstad et al 2010).

Same goes for inequality and how it harms societies. More recently with the impacts of lockdown and fear of COVID-19,  Anna Chrysopoulou in the Standford Social Innovation Review states;

“Economic inequality can increase anxiety and illness and fuel social and political unrest. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated health, economic, and social issues, and has prompted some governments to rethink the definition of a healthy and prosperous society and consider how the economy can support greater global well-being.”


If you are still not sure, check out SSIR’s Three Principles of a Wellbeing Economy;

“A well-being economy recognizes that people need to restore a harmonious relationship between society and nature, enjoy a fair distribution of resources, and live in healthy and resilient communities, and these elements are beginning to emerge in the individual policies of several countries.

1. Restoring a harmonious relationship between society and nature. A well-being economy not only supports quality of life for all—including good physical and mental health, and the ability to pursue aspirations—but also sustainability for the planet. A healthy and prosperous society begins with nature, viewing it as both a resource to meet consumption needs and a system of which we are a part.

2. Ensuring a fair distribution of resources to address economic inequality. Developing a well-being economy involves many aspects of society, including economic security, safety, health, and community. Countries with higher average levels of well-being tend to have greater equality between population groups and fewer people living in deprivation.

3. Supporting healthy and resilient individuals and communities. In a successful well-being economy, everyone lives in dignity, has a sense of connection and belonging, and actively engages with their communities. People have equal access to means that support their basic human needs, including support for physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. Countries that understand the connection between individual and collective well-being and the role of the economy in fostering well-being are implementing policies that support satisfactory housing conditions, safety, strong relationships within communities, and trust in politics.

Scotland currently lags most OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in indicators of entrepreneurial dynamism, with a total rate of early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) of 7.3% in 2019, compared with 10.5% in England, and 12.4% in Ireland. Scotland would need another 60,000 businesses to match the equivalent rate for England. Scotland like other countries also suffers from a gender gap with regards to business start-up rates with the TEA for women, at 5.3%, consistently below that of men, which was 9.3% in 2020. The TEA for ethnic minorities, at 12.3%, is significantly higher than that of the general population, showing the value of diversity to the Scottish economy.

Entrepreneurs and an entrepreneurial mindset are vital at a time of change.

This is where you come in. Scotland wants to create a culture in which entrepreneurship is encouraged, supported and celebrated, and where Scotland is recognised as one of the best countries in the world to start and grow business. Keystone Women wants that too and we hope to play our part in this aspirational movement. The new Women’s Business Centre, run by Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), a research-led social enterprise, also has big aspirations for women in business. They are driven to create a working ecosystem of female business owners and offer free advice, mentoring and resources.

Keystone Women’s programmes supports you to find your own version of success.  We do this through our programme and courses which have been designed to give you the best foundations for wellbeing. We believe this can be achieved with a powerful combination of thoughtful content supported by a nurturing community.

So what does a wellbeing economy mean to you?

What does creating a world where you, your community and the natural world thrive look like to you?  It means different things for different people but ultimately includes being well (in the broadest sense) and doing your best for yourself, your community and your planet.  Keystone Women supports healthy and resilient individuals and communities through the way we do business, from how we communicate, to what we prioritise, to our social enterprise status. There is a bigger conversation to be had when it comes to business or entrepreneurship. We need to move beyond the focus being on innovation, bottom lines and high growth (please can we stop making scale and international export the pinnacles of success, eh-hem Scottish Enterprise).  We need to talk about real costs of the way we work— human, self and planet. We need to celebrate the small as much as the rich, and respect the hard choices, the spectrum and responsibilities of privileges and the absolute need for doing self work.


We would like to know what comes to mind when you read wellbeing economy. Click here to tell us – we will share results in our next blog.


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