A Discussion led by Samantha Barber
On Friday 25th March, FWB Park Brown hosted an Executive roundtable, introduced by Samantha Barber (Accenture – Board Effectiveness & Sustainability Lead for Europe and NXD – Scottish Water) providing a thought-provoking discussion with regards to the challenges Boards face in maintaining momentum on the journey to Net Zero chaired by Jamie Brown and Ailsa Sutherland.
A number of industries were represented including financial services, global engineering, consumer goods and services, utilities and energy, manufacturing, agriculture, transport & logistics and family business.
This discussion commenced by considering the key challenges faced by business leaders in 2022 in managing to maintain an appropriate balance of focus on a vast range of business challenges including recovery from COVID, supply chain issues brought on by Brexit and the Ukrainian invasion, driving shareholder value and ensuring effective Board governance & financial management all whilst furthering cultures built on social impact and purpose, diversity and inclusion and of course, Sustainability.
This sparked a debate around how best to manage these and ensure that Sustainability remains top of the agenda, with varying perspectives from each of the sectors represented.
A number of key themes emerged including;
- The Call for Simplification – it was apparent that in tackling climate change, there are a vast number of steps, tools and actions that businesses can take, and with these differing for each business, business leaders called for simplification in understanding the necessary steps.
- The Need for Appropriate Measurement – the ability to measure true carbon footprint varies by organisation, some with the resource and ability to measure accurately and some with the ability only to hazard a best guess. It was clear that the development of a fit for purpose and common measurement tool is required.
- The Importance of Consumer Education –It was felt that in many respects “the battle is won” with regards to the education of the younger generation around the importance of sustainability (and in fact it is being driven to a large extent by them)., However, there is still a degree of consumer education around the impact of choice that has to be carried out by business in order to further influence consumer habits.
- Business Partnerships – it was felt that there is significant scope for businesses to collaborate to solve environmental challenges. Whether this is to combine purchasing capability to lower costs and buy more costly, but environmentally friendly technology, or plug the investment gap that exists for a lot of businesses. There was also felt to be a significant opportunity in sharing experiences and best practice.
Clearly there is a lot of work to be done in the journey to NetZero, and while there is pragmatism around the scale of this challenge, it was clear there is an abundance of ambition and an appetite to collaborate.
FWB Park Brown will be hosting a number of future events in relation to ESG to support in facilitating further conversations amongst our business leader networks.