Insider business club: Value for the long run

BDO has sought to make its workplace more sustainable. What has that

Jo Dooley, corporate responsibility manager, BDO Stoy

I started almost three years ago with a blank canvas really. We had some
undeveloped practices, and they certainly weren’t formalised in terms of
recycling. We had some community work going on, but the first thing I had to do
when I started this role was to formalise what we had.

You start with looking at what you’ve got and you take it from there. We
introduced a community policy giving everybody six days a year, and we
introduced an environmental policy. And at that stage, it was just making a
number of commitments on the environment in terms of what we were going to look
at and what we were going to measure.

Over the last two years, we’ve completed two environmental audits. We’re in
the throes of our third environmental audit at the moment, and we’ve also
started reporting publicly on the findings of those audits.

So we report our carbon footprint, we report our carbon footprint per head,
and we use the information coming out of those audits for a number of things. We
use them, firstly, for our reporting.

We use them to set targets and make reductions and for employee engagement to
tell staff how they can make a difference in the office, because ultimately,
they’re the ones using the facilities that we have. We really need their buy-in
to make a difference.

We use it for our carbon offsetting, so we use the figures that we get to
work out how many tonnes of carbon and things we need to buy year-on-year to
offset our footprint.

How do you create flexibility among staff to make workplaces more

Andrew Carey, associate partner, IBM Global Business Services asset
management group

The drivers are technology and getting the technology right so that people can
actually work anywhere in a particular office, getting the telephony right so
you’ve got follow-me telephony so you can programme to any desk, and getting the
property infrastructure right – having open plan offices so people can sit in
various locations, having meeting rooms, and maybe having service desks, etc.

The biggest area is about the change and about staff. People of the older
generation like their desk and they can’t see the reasons for breaking the link
with a desk. Frankly, they’re not interested in financial reasons. Environmental
reasons are not a major driver for them because they want to come to work and do
the job that they’re paid to do.

So we find that you go through almost a coping cycle, or a grieving cycle
with staff.

On the other hand, my 17-year-old son works on blogs and he expects to have a
laptop when he goes to the workplace. He expects to have the flexibility to be
able to go wireless. He expects to be able to do his work in Starbucks. If you
tell that generation, ‘here’s your desk, this is where you’re going to sit for
the next 40 years’, that is a real turn-off.

How seriously do finance directors take workplace changes when they look
at sustainability?

Helenne Doody, sustainability specialist, CIMA
They are looking at all areas of the business. We’ve done a survey recently in
conjunction with the Institute of Business Ethics. We asked a sample of our
members how important they saw environmental impact two to three years ago
compared with how it is now – and how important it is going to be in two to
three years time. Over half of them felt that it was more important now than it
was two or three years ago. And in terms of growing importance, about two thirds
felt it would be more important in two or three years.

We also asked whether they were taking steps to reduce their impact within
their organisation, and we found that almost 80% said that they were taking

But in terms of the steps they were taking, the majority of the respondents
talked about reducing their carbon footprint, and it was about reducing that
within the business and also along the value chain, and using issues such as
recycling, energy saving and reducing international travel. So, a lot of it was
within the office environment as well as outside of their business.

Businesses will have to do more and, obviously, we encourage businesses to
make changes within the office environment. We’re also doing a lot ourselves
within CIMA in that respect.

But our approach is that things like sustainability and climate change are
actually going to require more fundamental changes within business. It’s going
to require businesses to change their business models and take a more strategic

Chaired by Damian Wild

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