Sustainability, Supply Chains & Sausage Rolls - or my takeaways from a morning well spent at IoD Northern Ireland Investec Wealth & Investment UK ‘Focus on ESG’ breakfast event at Titanic Hotel Belfast.
Chief Investment Officer for Investec Wealth & Investment UK, Stacey Parrinder-Johnson told us she’s been in #ESG for 20 years, so she brought a lot of perspective to the subject of best practice and how incorporating ESG into your processes is key. She also cautioned that we must drive it in a way that is believable for our organisation, avoiding greenwashing at all costs. One of Stacey’s key themes is researching how #climatechange will affect inflation over the next 10 years, rightly dismissing any investor claims that ESG is “just a fad” with these words: “If, as a leader, you don’t see ESG as either an opportunity or a threat, there’s something wrong!”
Next up was Ian Henry, CSR Director at Henry Brothers Ltd, who shared his company’s impressive #sustainability story - the result of incorporating ESG into their processes - and spoke of the urgent need in NI construction for a longer term view that values sustainability in the tendering process, as in England and Scotland, facilitated by a sitting Assembly. I greatly admire how Ian has embraced all the pillars of sustainability - through their nature reserve, and educating kids about biodiversity, volunteering work, and making a real difference to his local community in Magherafelt by donating to food banks.
The final speaker was Joe McDonald, Head of Corporate Affairs, Asda NI. I have to admit that Asda’s sustainability commitment was a real eye opener. They published their first ESG Report last year. Customers are asking them to be greener, so, like our own business, Asda’s challenge is to figure out how to make greener products affordable. But how do you balance the competing forces of suppliers bringing inflationary increases with customers expecting price stability?
As a manufacturer and a retailer, our businesses may be vastly different in scope and scale, but what we have in common is a global supply chain. We’ve a long way to go with our our Scope 3 GHG emissions, but Asda have already mapped out theirs - with the help of The Carbon Trust - from end to end, calculating that 51% of their operations’ carbon comes from Scope 3, “The Wild West” of Scopes, as Joe rather amusingly described it. By comparison, only 2% comes from their stores. All in all, this retailer’s carbon footprint globally is 30 million tonnes.
And speaking of millions, Joe shared with us the importance of celebrating with your people, the ‘S’ in ‘ESG’, after Asda made a £3M donation to Children In Need last week, the biggest ever in the charity’s history. Not too shabby!
As the Director leading Sustainability at Smiley Monroe Group, I left armed with ideas and feeling confident that we’re taking the right steps in our own ESG Strategy development. And we’re already looking at our suppliers through the lens of ESG, just like all of the speakers yesterday.💡🌎👣