Leading change from within to design our Sustainability Policy
Find out how our Sustainability Team created an ambitious sustainability policy in just four months – with the support of like-minded colleagues, the Leadership Team and the right skill sets. Louis offers an insight into life at The PSC.
Earlier this week, The PSC announced our new sustainability policy, which includes commitments to:
1. Become a net zero organisation by 2021
2. Ensure 80% of our supplier and partner contracts are with organisations that have ambitious sustainability policies by 2025
3. Expand the positive environmental impact of our work with clients and partners.
I rarely post updates on social media, but I immediately shared this announcement as one of the proudest moments in my career so far.
So I wanted to share how we got here. From a small group of individuals with an interest in sustainability four months ago, to a newly established Sustainability Team which has drafted an ambitious policy signed off by The PSC Board.
It’s been a lot of work, but we’ve achieved a pleasingly fast turn-around for such a big initiative. I put this down largely to the company culture at The PSC which supported and nurtured this initiative from the start.
In this blog post I reflect on the unique ingredients at The PSC that empower staff to lead change from within – from finding like-minded colleagues with the right skills and experience, to the benefits of a supportive development structure and engaged leadership team.
If this sounds like it might suit you - here’s our careers page to find out more about how you could become involved with The PSC.
Swimming with the current
I joined The PSC in autumn 2018 with a background in environmental health and sustainability. The PSC’s mission is to improve public services for society, and I was keen to bring my unique experience in sustainability to this work.
I quickly realised that sustainability wasn’t my USP though – I met colleagues who shared my passion and experience. Amy had co-founded a student environmental events consultancy and accreditation scheme which informs, tracks and rewards cost-effective green solutions; Donato had joined The PSC 3-weeks before me after completing a master’s degree in Engineering for Sustainable Development.
Rather than keeping sustainability as my USP, I’d found something much better. I found myself part of a growing current, working with like-minded individuals towards a common purpose.
At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, with 18 months experience at The PSC under my belt I brought up my desire to make sustainability a more central focus of my work with my career manager, Phil.
At The PSC, the Career Manager role is to act as an internal mentor from The PSC’s senior cohort or Leadership Team to help staff achieve their development targets. I remember Phil’s response being something along the lines of:
“Louis, that sounds absolutely amazing. Perhaps you could host an internal workshop to start a discussion internally about our sustainability ambitions?”.
Spurred on by Phil’s enthusiasm emerging from The PSC’s supportive career development structure, four-weeks later I facilitated a short workshop with colleagues. This is where Amy, Donato and I officially formed the ‘Sustainability Team’, and engaged Sam, a member of the Leadership Team, to be our senior champion.
The Right People with the Right Skills
Had I tried to form a Sustainability Team when I first joined The PSC in October 2018, I wouldn’t have known where to start to make the appropriate changes to have a positive impact. That’s where the Team’s collective experience of >10 years in management consulting came in handy!
Treating our Sustainability Team like we would a client-project, we defined the problem we were hoping to address and designed a project plan:
- Develop a sustainability policy which defined The PSC’s understanding of sustainability and established a strategic direction
- Undertake a baseline-report to understand our current sustainability performance and set ambitious targets
- Build a roadmap for how we plan to achieve these targets
With support from Sam, we presented our proposed new sustainability policy to The PSC Board for approval – a task which, while daunting, felt natural after having presented to senior executives on countless client projects.
Support from the top
When we presented our proposed new sustainability policy to The PSC Board, we received two primary challenges from the organisation’s leadership:
- Firstly, we were challenged on how we could make sustainability ‘business as usual’ at The PSC. Indeed, the policy set out ambitious targets, but the end objective is for sustainability to be a core focus of all the work we do. We agreed to work closely with the business management and support team to integrate sustainability into our everyday business actions and decisions, and to report progress back to Board on a bi-annual basis.
- Secondly, in anticipating potential resistance to change, we had proposed to set a target to become carbon neutral by 2023. Instead of resistance, the response to our proposal from the leadership team was “why wait until 2023? Couldn’t we set this target by 2021?”
As an organisation, we still have a journey ahead to now deliver the sustainability ambitions that we have set ourselves. However, thanks to the work culture at The PSC, we have already achieved significant progress in only four-months. I’m confident that as a team we will be able to deliver against these goals.
If you’d like to hear more about our work on the sustainability team, please do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org as we’d love to hear from you.
Author: Louis Jamart
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