O2’s first sustainability roundtable: Building sustainable growth in your business
Will Kirkpatrick, Head of Sustainability and Social Impact at O2, talks about the importance of sustainability in any business strategy
If we’re going to tackle climate change properly, reduce carbon emissions and protect our environment, we all need to work together.
That’s why before Christmas, we hosted the first of our online sustainability roundtables. It delivered valuable insight from a cross section of industries and generated some interesting discussions about the challenges and opportunities that sustainability brings.
We wanted to stimulate a discussion about the steps that businesses need to take towards building sustainable growth into the heart of their business strategy. Here are just a handful of the topics we discussed:
How embedded is sustainability in your business?
We’re all increasingly aware of our impact on the planet, but if we’re going to reduce it then a vital first step for every business is to be honest about where they are on their sustainability journey.
At the roundtable, many contributors highlighted the importance of getting senior management involved in sustainability early on. If your goal is to be an industry leader in sustainability, then getting board level approval is an important first step.
So take a look at this leadership model, to see where your business fits. Your business might be a:
- Beginner – You’re putting policies in place that work towards government or sector-mandated compliances.
- Performer – Some of your products and services are sustainably sourced to help customers with environmentally friendly choices.
- Leader – You have executive engagement and sustainability is an agenda embedded within your organisation’s culture.
- Pioneer – Sustainability is embedded within your purpose, values and brand. Your actions and results go beyond your sector.
Are you just doing the basics, delivering only what is required as a legal minimum? Or perhaps you’re integrating sustainability into products and services, or even looking to stand out with marketing campaigns focused on sustainability? You might even have made sustainability your purpose or principal business model?
You can’t do this alone
Addressing the planet’s challenges isn’t something for any single organisation. Besides, as the roundtable discussed, virtually every business involves some sort of supply chain. So inevitably, reaching your sustainability goals will mean working closely with suppliers, and encouraging them to play their part too.
O2 is on a journey to net zero and aims to achieve net zero in our own operations by 2025. We’ve also made a further commitment to reduce carbon emissions by at least 30% across our whole supply chain by 2025. If you have a similar ambition, then take a look at our whitepaper: The journey to net zero: Five steps to building a carbon reduction roadmap for your business.
Knowing where to start
The roundtable discussion acknowledged how difficult it can be to know where to start when trying to become more sustainable.
To identify the areas you should focus on, it might be time to reassess and understand your consumer and product journeys, as well as the lifecycle of your products. For example, showing customers how your products are produced can help them understand how you’re being more sustainable.
This learning exercise requires data and it’s important to have the right tools to be able to collect and interpret it. Our Green Savings Calculator is one such tool that helps to identify where greener savings can be made, with reductions in carbon emissions, costs, and time.
See for yourself how your business could go greener with O2’s Green Savings Calculator.
Building a greener world together
How can businesses push for more sustainability while simultaneously supporting recovery? It was encouraging to see a lot of commitment from everyone attending the roundtable to continue investing in local communities and employees as part of their sustainability agendas.
There are some difficult challenges to address, however, concerning the impact that COVID-19 has had. For example, if your people feel safer travelling in their own cars, what do you need to do to encourage greener travel instead?
Open discussions, like O2’s first online sustainability roundtable, are vital to share knowledge and learnings, and will be crucial to building a better, greener world together. If you missed it, you can watch our intro video from the roundtable here.
- We want to carry on these important conversations, so if you’d like to come along to our next roundtable, get in touch.
- Want to find out more about O2’s journey to net-zero? Listen to the latest episode of the Blue Door Podcast with O2’s Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Tracey Herald.