ESG is a massive strategic opportunity for the FM sector but we’ve got to work together as a sector to share best practice. That was a key message of James Bradley, COO – Churchill Group, during the FMJ panel discussion in the FM Theatre at yesterday’s Facilities Show.
He was speaking at ‘Sustainability in FM and achieving Environmental, Social and Governance’ which was chaired by Jo Sutherland, Managing Director, Magenta Associates and which also included Helen Jones, COO for Corporate/Enterprise clients at Alcumus, Lucy Hind, Senior FM Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University and a member of the FMJ Editorial Steering Committee and Owen George, Strategic Development Manager, Grundon Waste Management.
Describing the role of the circular economy, Owen George explained that consumers are putting pressure on companies to regenerate and reuse materials – including cardboard, plastic and glass. When it comes to Governance in ESG, he noted that the recent FMJ/Grundon Waste Management survey revealed that transparency is of the highest importance to respondents. The research shows that FMs are being asked to demonstrate to their clients what is happening to their collected waste and that they must work with good contractors who have that data to hand.
Lucy Hinds said that FM is leading the charge on the environment and is well positioned to continue that leadership and drive from both an environmental and facilities perspective, while Helen Jones described FM as, “the secret engine behind the scenes.” But she added: “there is not going to be one silver bullet when it comes to meeting the E of ESG.”
The panel was also pleased to discuss some real-life examples where FM contributes to social value strategies. Jones recalled her work with business action on homelessness in FM and Bradley described Churchill’s FM taster days that offer a range of programmes to people with complex needs, which range from practical cleaning courses to business administration apprenticeships.
The panel was keen to point out that there is a powerful business case for social value in FM, most particularly in reducing employee attrition and attracting talent. It was also agreed that it’s important for FM suppliers to work closely with customers to support them in their societal efforts, by addressing emissions and reducing carbon across the supply chain.
But ultimately better communication is needed to help move the ESG agenda forward. Concluded James Bradley: “We need to ensure we don’t become busy fools. This is why we need to collaborate on an industry level to champion and push forward ESG as a benefit to the whole sector.”