In an increasingly globally connected world, sustainability can feel like corporate hype and people might even be forgiven for being sceptical over what it aims to achieve.
On the other hand, expectations of the corporate world are higher than ever – not only in terms of positive impacts on society, but also with the global impetus for climate change action that came from the Paris Conference of Parties (COP21).
Companies that best navigate the complex challenges of demonstrating responsible business – to groups of stakeholders inside and outside their organisation – can create a distinct and measurable competitive advantage. It’s important to understand that the ‘ripple’ benefits from getting this right, with good evidence of a long-term commitment, can spread through their people, their clients and to shareholders.
I’m clear that this is not simply a UK or European trend; in my business dealings from the Emirates to Malaysia, governments are demanding more from companies than simply decreasing CO2 emissions from their industrial processes. Working alongside the most far-sighted organisations, it’s becoming clear that ambitious plans like those of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved only by working in close partnerships – in fact, the seventeenth and final goal of that overarching programme.
For me, and increasingly for many leaders across businesses, sustainability means encouraging our people to engage consistently with the communities in which they work. It means caring about encouraging diversity of thought to solve issues more effectively, and it means nurturing leaders who live and deliver that company’s values every day.
I am proud to chair the Board Sustainability Committee at Carillion, bringing global experience to the red threads of Better Business, Better People and a Better Environment. The discussions are rich, challenging and sometimes edgy in support of Carillion’s management team, bringing even more robust governance to an already well-structured responsible business approach. This year, we’ve been engaging more directly with external advisors on current trends to benchmark Carillion’s sustainability performance and get the most out of our investment in external partnerships such as Business in the Community (BITC) and the UK’s Green Building Council.
The discussions that have made the biggest impact though have come from our reviews of Sustainability Moments – uplifting examples of the most inspiring sustainability behaviour from people across our business. Examples as diverse as reclaiming building materials to reduce waste and improve profitability, supporting a homeless person into full-time work and cutting food waste through technology. These motivational stories sat alongside the diverse achievements of Carillion’s Employee Nomination Fund, supporting 160 charities across our international business regions.
Carillion people have certainly convinced me that their approach to sustainability is anything but hype and Sustainability Week is yet another example of this in action. Hopefully you’ll continue to think about how the one small thing you do can help to make a big difference.
Carillion is committed to being a sustainable, trusted and responsible business. This does not just mean meeting our legal responsibilities, but embedding sustainability in everything we do in business, society and the environment. Want to know more? Click here to find out all about our latest achievements.
This Sustainability Week (September 25-30), we’ll be highlighting how small, individual actions can equate to one very big and significant difference. Join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #do1smallthing.