In the March 2022 issue of Business World we published part one of a two-part interview. We asked some representatives of member firms to describe how corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays a part in their businesses and how easy or difficult it is to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) and diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) into daily business life. In the second part of this interview, we ask some more directors and managers about their experiences.
Can you tell us about the environmental, social or governance matters that mean most to your business and why?
Mark Reynolds, Suntera Global
We empower everyone in our team to play a part in cultivating a work environment with ESG principles at its heart. We focus on areas such as carbon and energy, people and communities, and water and biodiversity. This has led us to work with environmentally focused organisations like Beach Buddies and PlasticBusters. We’ve embedded ESG into our culture and regularly review our activity.
Robert Morley, Lubbock Fine
Socially we have a long history of supporting charities that help children in need, and those that promote diversity. We also actively encourage our people to volunteer. This year we embraced the RISE programme that focuses on social mobility and its aim to equip hard-to-reach young people with the skills they need to succeed.
From a business perspective, why do you engage in these activities? Is it to attract new clients or employees, or is it just to tick a box?
Jamie Burak, WBL
Our DEI initiative aims to raise awareness and educate our people on the different cultures both in our firm and among our clients.
We aim to maintain an inclusive, safe, and supportive environment where we treat one another with respect. We aim to understand one another and to embrace a variety of opinions, approaches, and perspectives. Embracing DEI is also important when attracting and retaining employees and clients.
Hayley Plimley, DJH Mitten Clarke
We work hard to achieve great things, and it makes sense for us to do this in business and in our local communities. As a team we’ve made a real difference over the years.
Giving back is one of our core values; not only is it fun, we’ve also met some great people and charities along the way. Our main focus is our people, so tackling the issues that mean a lot to them helps to create a happy and engaged team and the perfect environment to deliver our business goals.
What is your firm doing to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Are there areas where you’re trying to improve?
Our DEI committee of associates represents different backgrounds and cultures and surveys everyone periodically to gather input on DEI initiatives. Our weekly e-newsletter contains a DEI section highlighting cultural events, holidays, and observances and we recently held a DEI lunchn-learn to raise awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We plan to incorporate community service activities for associates into our DEI initiative this year, as well as integrating DEI into our recruitment.
As an equal opportunity employer, we strive to break down barriers to eliminate discrimination, and ensure we give our people the tools and opportunities they need to reach their full potential. Irrelevant or discriminatory criteria never feature in employment decisions because we know that a diverse mix of backgrounds, skills and experiences drives new ideas and maximises our ability to achieve our goals. All our people receive training in how to uphold our commitment to diversity and equal opportunity, a commitment that ensures individual merit is our only consideration when making employment and promotion decisions.
What advice can you give to businesses yet to build CSR, ESG, and DEI into their business plans?
It’s vital that businesses build these initiatives into their plans and place them at the heart of what they stand for. I believe the best approach is to start small; for example, champion a paperless approach, and encourage people to bring their own drinks bottles rather than single use plastic bottles. Initiatives like these can act as a stepping stone to bigger projects. Engage your team in generating ideas so that the journey is a shared one.
Keep it simple. Taking small steps with a clear focus will allow you to deliver with greater impact. Gather input from your team to drive a creative and diverse approach.
Some businesses may feel they are too small or lack the resource to implement CSR, ESG, and DEI. How would you convince them otherwise?
Ignoring the issue is unacceptable and makes no business sense. Employees and clients are both demanding more on ESG, and it is having an increasing impact in all stages of supply chains. Any business wishing to futureproof must act.
Small steps can have a big impact. Donate old computers to charity, recycle office supplies, and introduce policies such as turning off computers when not in use. Form an ESG committee to explore ideas and opportunities; this is an excellent way to begin your sustainability journey.
No business is too small to create and maintain an inclusive, safe, and supportive workplace, and to raise awareness of different cultures and backgrounds.
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