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What sustainability means to us

5 mins read
BlogDiversity, Equity & InclusionSustainability

Sustainability is wide-ranging and means different things to different organisations. For us, sustainability is all about doing the right thing, taking into account the interests of all of our stakeholders when making business decisions, and building social and environmental considerations into how we innovate and operate as a business. We view sustainability through the lens of ESG (environment, social and governance) factors.

Social

For us, social responsibility is about protecting and supporting our workforce as well as engaging with the wider community.

Diversity & Equal Opportunity

We are committed to providing a workplace where all people are treated with dignity, free from harassment of any type and provided with equal opportunities. We respect differences and characteristics that make our employees unique. We believe that the collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, self-expression and unique capabilities that our employees invest in their work, contribute to our culture, our work environment and our success. This commitment is anchored in our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy which underpins our business strategy and decision-making.

We have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Melanie Duncan, who is supported in her role by the DEI Champions Network – a group of volunteers from across the company whose goal it is to challenge and transform mindsets, role model behaviour and turn our commitments into tangible activities.

Learning & Development

The long-term success and sustainability of our business hinges on our ability to attract and retain the best employees. That means giving them the tools to develop both personally and professionally and helping them unlock opportunities to achieve their ambitions.

In 2021, we re-branded and upgraded our learning management system to create a new virtual learning and development environment, making quick, relevant and easy-to-digest courses at our employees’ fingertips. In parallel, we developed and launched a new communications channel, Greenhouse, to support these initiatives.

Alongside Greenhouse, we provided in depth leadership training for first-line managers through our LEAP programme, which is run in our local businesses. We also have Inspire Performance to support managers in creating constructive, positive performance reviews and we’re now offering individual business development teams dedicated training focused on their specific challenges. The past year has seen over 200 managers complete these courses across the organization.

Health & Safety

Our commitment to our employees and all others affected by our operations is institutionalized in our Health & Safety Policy which drives our management system.  It determines risk assessment as the foundation for ensuring the safety of our activities and ensures we regularly monitor and review our performance in pursuit of continued improvement.

We have a network of Health and Safety Champions across the organisation who are passionate about their subject, and come together regularly to discuss common issues, share learning and issues of concern. Health and Safety Committees and representatives across the globe ensure we actively engage with our employees on the issues that matter to them and solicit feedback on our systems and performance.

Community Engagement

Every year our people go to extraordinary lengths to raise money and lend their support to some worthy community causes. And despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, our teams were undeterred in their efforts to help others. Highlights included colleagues from Ashfield Engage walking 26 miles in a day to raise over £3,000 towards funding gene therapy for a colleague’s daughter with a rare neurological disorder. 103 participants from 14 countries at STEM also covered a total distance of 22,000km along the Pan-American Highway to raise £5,142 for Big Brothers Big Sisters (US), CALM (UK) and Action Against Hunger (global).

Environment

We are fully committed to conducting our business in a way that protects the environment and so we’ve made minimizing our environmental footprint a fundamental part of our sustainability strategy.

On World Environment Day 2021, we launched our Sustainability Champions Network. These passionate volunteers meet monthly and will work together to monitor our environmental performance and drive new ideas for change.

In July 2022, we will be submitting to the Carbon Disclosure Project  under our new company name reporting on the emissions of both Ashfield and Huntsworth.  This will enable us to baseline upon which we can develop our emissions reduction roadmap.

We also plan to complete an audit of our scope 3 emissions to help the business understand our supply chain emissions and to identify any hotspots which will need to be reduced.

In parallel, we will be developing plans to reduce emissions in tangible areas of our business. For example, switching our fleet vehicles to hybrid or electric vehicles, eliminating single use plastics from canteens, limiting paper usage, recycling, and reducing air travel to a minimum.

Governance

Our Code of Conduct reflects our values and spans the environmental, social and governance elements of our sustainability strategy.  The Code establishes commitments for our employees and stakeholders, making sure we always:

  1. Maintain the highest ethical standards in everything we do.
  2. Meet our legal and regulatory obligations
  3. Continually improve our compliance management system.

For us, governance is the means by which we can continue to perform at a high level, minimizing our risk whilst ensuring there is effective oversight from management and our Board of Directors.

Building on success in 2022

We achieved a considerable amount in 2021, but we need to go even further in 2022. Following the acquisition of Ashfield by Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) and the subsequent merger of Ashfield with Huntsworth, 2022 will offer an exciting opportunity to coordinate and harmonize our efforts across both companies and to deliver even more ambitious change. We are up to the challenge and are looking forward to updating you on our achievements over the coming months.

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