If you know me, you know by now that I have been working in the Environmental World since my dad used to ask me to turn off the lights at his factory when I worked there as a kid.
He used to teach me to drop one load off at a machine with the forklift truck and take the finished product away, so not to travel empty. (Probably from his time and motion study days at Smurfits and Tupperware, cardboard and plastic respectively). And when unloading and reloading a vehicle of cardboard product in the yard, in the rain, it made common sense too!
My dad also used other peoples’ waste products to create the goods in which we sold before buying any virgin paper. It’s extremely interesting to watch what is happening with the growth in the corrugated industry right now, given that the World has “just” discovered that plastics are made from oil and therefore filthy and dirty.
I can categorically say, these days at my dads’ factory were my University into Sustainability.
As you know, my quest to have a positive impact on the planet has continued throughout my life and I now own three companies operating in the energy efficiency, renewables, legislation, Net Zero training, recruitment, and Climate Change World, namely; CCC Energy, SECR Reporting Ltd and Climate Change Professionals Ltd.
Back in 2012, I built the UK’s first zero-energy cost/net-zero business park when property agents told me I was mad. Now they are scrambling around to help clients who are demanding Net Zero facilities almost a decade later! And now funds are offering to buy it with yields better than the Trafford Centre in its hay day. Who knew?!
E – Environmental is therefore at the root of all my companies. And my fabulous group of companies under the watchful eye of Great Minds Property Group have made a commitment to be Net Zero in Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions by 2024, twenty-six years ahead of the UK Government mandate to be Net Zero by 2050.
The ESG wheel has three components, that are intrinsically linked.
Social and Governance have been extremely important to me too and they should be to your organisation.
They can come in many forms, but in my experience, many are inspired by the passions of individuals, so talk to your employees about their passions or personal life experiences and their local community needs.
Again, my father was a great influence in the area of helping others. I was encouraged to fundraise for people less fortunate than myself. At fifteen, I took part in the Granada Wheel Appeal, cycling from Manchester to Blackpool (some sixty miles) to raise funds for charities. I remember using school computer time to write letters to local companies begging for support and it came by the bucket load.
Not only did I have to cycle sixty miles that day, but I also cycled to the coach collection point (fifteen miles away from home) and back from Blackpool (another forty-five miles) because although my dad met me at the finish line, his car was too small to fit in my bike. Don’t worry, I got him back in 2011 when I signed him up to my own fundraiser in Malawi called Challenge Mulanje, whereby he had to cycle from Blantyre to Mulanje some sixty miles to visit projects I was supporting!
I mentioned that the Social aspect of ESG can come from passions. For ten years I helped run the “coming out” group in Manchester called Icebreakers. Every Wednesday night I would prepare tea and coffee for men identifying as gay for the first time. I would talk to them about my journey and help them create coping strategies for any negative reactions they might face towards their sexuality. Being involved with Icebreakers required trustee meetings and extra social events that took up a lot of my time.
I only left this role because I had seen the need to help African gay men. In 2007 I helped set up Icebreakers Uganda after hearing the horror stories faced by the gay community explained to me by Dr. Frank Mugisha from Uganda.
I am very proud of what we have achieved in Uganda and I hope there will be no more senseless killings of men because of their sexuality, like in the case of David Kato who was stoned to death in 2011.
My time in Africa has taught me a lot and why a lot of my Social efforts are focused on this continent. Without formally documenting, it has given my companies countless opportunities to support people less fortunate. My first visit was life-changing as the effects of HIV/AIDS across Africa (and Malawi in particular) struck a chord with me.
It has even inspired me to create my own family with adopted children rather than birth children.
Currently, we are building a new school for over 1,500 children in Dowa near Lilongwe the capital.
I could talk all day about why my companies support such great projects in Malawi and maybe one day you can read about them on the Great Minds Property website, but for now, I just want to raise these points;
In business, we all have a responsibility to the planet and to fellow human beings. Whether you formally document the great works you are doing or not, it is important that every organisation builds a firm ESG foundation and does something. Even little steps like a firm litter picking in a local area.
I truly believe that individuals want to work for organisations that have strong ESG foundations and from my own experience, I know that helping others gives us an almighty sense of satisfaction and purpose. Group litter picking can also build great bonds between employees too.
I also know through the Net Zero work we are doing with clients, it shows how an organisation can educate and influence a supply chain on Environmental factors – and I don’t mean a heavy-handed “do it or de-list”, I mean in a collaborative way. So I also know that by sharing the work we do in S and G we can work with our clients, suppliers, partners to improve the lives of others.
If you would like to discuss ESG for your organisation, then please pick up the phone and chat with me. Equally, I will be at EMEX in London on 24th and 25th November, come watch me lead the session on Building Skills, Creating a Net Zero Ready Workforce, and have a cuppa with me afterward.
Thanks for reading