Learnings from our Sustainability Roundtable

Last month, we invited the Sustainability Champions from our portfolio to our first and inaugural Sustainability Roundtable. It was an opportunity for those leading on sustainability in our partner brands to share ideas and discuss challenges. While every company has its own specific challenges in driving positive change that are tied to their business models, there are also many shared challenges. We decided to tackle one such shared challenge in the roundtable – how to embed sustainability into teams and everyday business operations.

To help us, we were lucky enough to be joined by Lou Stevens, ex Head of Sustainability at Innocent and Sustainability Director at Nuevo, who during her 19 years at Innocent drove sustainability and embedded it into the culture from start-up to a team of hundreds.

Around the table were representatives from many of our partner brands and spanning different sectors, channels and business models – Bloom & Wild, Monica Vinader, The Thinking Traveller, Flat Iron, Turtle Bay, Wild Nutrition, NEOM and Bruce’s. All of our Sustainability Champions are board level to ensure that sustainability is front of mind when discussing all areas of the business and growth.

Lou took us through her time at Innocent, digging into what gained most engagement and empowered employees to drive change. The core starting points to embedding sustainability is education and having clear company values. At Innocent, these values weren’t just words on a wall (although they are that too). As a team, they dug into what each of the values means, both from a company purpose and the employees’ day-to-day perspective, embedding them into their people and management processes to ensure they thrived in the brand’s everyday operations.

The biggest learnings from the roundtable were:

  1. Bring the whole company on the journey through regular updates and by having the leadership team champion it.
  2. Educate everyone, telling people about what you’re doing is one thing, but giving them the knowledge to understand why will unite the company under a shared purpose.
  3. Empower employees by embedding sustainability in their roles. Set impact focus targets for everyone, or better, ask people to set their own. This encourages personal initiative and inspires ideas and advocates from areas of the business you’d never have expected

Ideas coming from one place, or a poorly empowered committee will always end up in half-baked projects that never get off the ground, but responsibilities spread throughout the business encourages action. A company policy organising volunteering days differs greatly in long-term impact to colleagues driving team volunteering activities that matter to them.

We are proud of how committed our portfolio is to having a positive impact and the fact that three of the brands that attended are B Corps, with most of the rest on their way to becoming one. Lou’s new home, Nuevo, is a creative agency that focuses on making marketing and advertising a force for good. Let us know if you’d like an intro.

If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing around impact, please get in touch with our Sustainability Manager, Georgia Jones, or read our annual Sustainable Investment reports here.