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A small step for your business, a giant leap for the planet

19-03-2024|Anthony Gougeon

Committing to an Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) strategy is gaining importance for businesses as customers, suppliers, introducers and employees place ESG practices under the spotlight and expect companies to take action.

Why are businesses implementing ESG measures? ESG measures are increasingly used to gauge how a business is managing risks in the longer term. Furthermore, customers may be more willing to buy from companies that invest in greener products or display ethical approaches to issues such as inclusivity.

Research by social network LinkedIn in 2018 found that 71% of professionals say they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that has shared values, while 39% would leave their current job if their employer were to ask them to do something they have an ethical or moral conflict with.

Sustainability and making better choices for the environment will be high on the ESG agenda for many businesses, but many of them won’t even know where to start, let alone how they can make a meaningful impact as part of running their business day to day.

The Ultimate approach

Here at Ultimate Finance, we’re preparing to launch our updated Responsible Business Report for 2024. As a business, it is important to us that we play our part in tackling the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) challenges that are important to our customers, communities and colleagues.

Our approach to ensuring we are a responsible business is rooted in our vision and values and set out alongside our objectives and commitments in our Responsible Business Report. We have made great progress thus far, but we also recognise the crucial role that we and all businesses can play to build a sustainable future for everyone.

Here we’ll share some of the ways we got started on our Sustainability journey in the hope that it might inspire other blossoming business to take their first steps…

Trees are the key

18th-24th March is Trees Are the Key Awareness Week. This annual awareness campaign from Word Forest is aimed at combatting the devastating effects of global warming and climate change by planting fast growing, predominantly food bearing trees in the tropics. Trees are a great place to start – it’s one of the ways we started at Ultimate Finance.

A key starting point for us at Ultimate Finance was the introduction of an app called Treekly. Treekly enables individuals to turn footsteps into forests by planting trees based on steps. By maintaining a daily walking habit of 5,000 steps just one individual can help fund mangrove reforestation – and because we knew our employees at Ultimate Finance are an active bunch this seemed like a win-win!

Where we’ve seen real benefit is through the Ultimate Finance Treekly Community we’ve set up. All hosted within the app, the Treekly Community shows daily, weekly and monthly step leaderboards as well as keeping tally of the number of trees our employees have planted. It’s a great way to encourage employees to get active, promotes good physical wellbeing and also boosts morale and employee engagement too.

Celebrating the milestones

Treekly has proved a great tool for us at Ultimate Finance in terms of combining our wellbeing and sustainability strategies to engage people in our ESG strategy. It’s also great for culture – with regularly-run step challenges bringing the whole business closer together and striving towards the same goal – as well as being the funding partner of choice.

Celebration has been a key theme for us at Ultimate Finance, whether it’s celebrating another record year in 2023 or raising over £1,000 for the Trussell Trust last year, we feel it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate milestones when they come along. It’s no different with our sustainability approach. As a business, we recently surpassed 1,000 trees planted via Treekly – that’s over 50 tonnes of CO2 captured – cue the celebrations and as part of our internal communications programme, we’ve also started celebrating our Treekly Centurions – those employees who have planted over 100 trees through their activity.

(Walking) boots on the ground

A key part of the success of our ESG strategy has been our employees. Our business wouldn’t be where it is today without the hard work and dedication of our people and that’s especially true when it comes to so many of the initiatives that make Ultimate Finance a great place to work.

So, whatever steps you’re taking to start your ESG journey – make sure employees are involved. Everyone in your business could have a role to play in making your ESG strategy a success. Leaders, managers, and supervisors can play a role in positively supporting the programme.

Your workforce can make small changes, such as actively recycling waste or more rigorously assessing suppliers. Use internal communications channels to communicate the importance of ESG and what your business is doing and consider regularly updating staff on progress and encouraging good behaviours with reward and recognition.

From becoming a more sustainable business, to developing community outreach programmes, it can pay to assemble a team of employees to own the ESG programme. Look for employees who are passionate about change, effective communicators, and in positions in your organisation where they can bring about changes. Give the team accountability for ESG targets and access to resources to be able to meet ESG goals. We’ve seen really positive results having taken this approach within Ultimate Finance.

Looking further afield

Treekly was just the start, across our business we’ve been able to implement changes around our energy use, utilities, travel and waste management all with the aim of minimising the direct and indirect environmental impact of our operations and office estate. For full details, be sure to read our 2024 Responsible Business Report when it’s published in the coming weeks.

We have made great progress thus far, but we also recognise the crucial role that us and all businesses can play to build a sustainable future for everyone.

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