Our Jouney to Net Zero
Our Sustainability journey begins with confirming why we are doing it and what we want to achieve. It is interesting that when most companies think and talk about Sustainability, they default to a situation where they see it only as a cost or something that will be taking away from what they currently do, or indeed make it harder to operate. Whilst there may be a bit of an impact initially, in the long term, Sustainability is good for business and good for people and planet – and it doesn’t take too much for us to play our part.
With that in mind, 6 Group set out to create our mission “To be an absolutely for profit regenerative corporation”, really living by our Values and Beliefs. That means we want to make sure that whatever we take from our planet, we “Go Beyond” and put back more. Whatever impact we have on our society, its people, and our own people – we are “Partnering” appropriately and giving back more.
We also want to secure the growth our own financial capital to ensure we can keep contributing outstanding outcomes for our clients and grow our business and people.
Four sustainability goals
To help us on this journey, we needed to focus on some key areas, where we felt we could have the greatest impact, and also that we are passionate about. With this in mind, we decided to adopt four UN Sustainability Development Goals, which we felt better represented what we want to have at core when building our sustainability journey.
The UN Sustainability Development Goals we selected are:
Based on these goals, we listed a few steps to help guide us in our thinking of how and what we can do. Ultimately, we want this journey to be a commercial imperative that supports our clients, candidates, ourselves and families for the future.
We are not looking for wholesale change in how we operate but looking for adaptations and actions to start us on our journey. Therefore, we set our minds to think of three things:
A) Operational Goals – things we can affect as part of our direct operations;
B) Value-chain Goals – things we can do in engaging our stakeholders i.e., clients, candidates, suppliers and partners;
C) System-level Goals - this is much harder, but what part do we play in influencing the whole ‘system’ i.e., executive search industry or the industries we serve.
In line with the above, our focus in the next few months will be to identify what can we do right away and what we need to work on gradually.
What we have done so far
During the month of April we have focused on the UN Sustainability Development Goal number three - Good Health and Well-being. It has been a year since we have all worked together in one office and we are about to get back to work in the same space again. To make sure our team is feeling mentally and physically energised, we have arranged outdoor walks together with the kids, a couple of bike rides and a coffee (or two!). These activities were also to help ease everyone back into being in physical contact with their colleagues again.
We have shared over the last two months our plans for the office and chosen a new workplace specifically tailored to enhance the health and well-being of everyone at work. It has plenty of natural light and fresh air, and we are starting to populate it with air purifying plants and trying and make it as biophilic as possible. This will encourage greater calmness, more productivity and also create a space that we can all be proud and excited to be a part of.
We will be looking at other areas to help boost the Health and Well-being of our employees throughout the rest of the year, and we will also look at what we can do for our clients and candidates also.
Watch the first episode of the "Six to Zero" series for an overview of the progress of our sustainability journey during the month of April.
Next month, we are going to focus on another goal - Gender Equality. It is something we are very passionate about at 6 Group and it will offer a great opportunity to look at our own processes and systems in more detail.
Our commitment to equality
Why is it, in this day and age, that people are discriminated against and marginalised simply for who they are? This is why when I asked the team here which UN Sustainability Development Goals they wanted us to commit to, SDG5 Gender Equality and SDG10 Reduced Inequality came out as overwhelming favourites. It is something that we passionately believe in and something that has touched each and every one of us somewhere, sometime in our lives.
Unfortunately, it is also something that is highly visible in society, but thankfully it is gaining its due time in the spotlight around the world. We have seen the ‘taking the knee’ movement in sport, women on boards initiatives around the world, BAME awareness, neurodiversity recruitment programmes and a whole array of other initiatives to help promote a reduction in inequality and gender equality.
Given the two areas were so aligned, we decided to take the last two months of May and June to address how and what we can do at 6 Group to play our part in helping address these all too important areas. I think a great distinction to make here is that it isn’t just a social imperative. There are copious amounts of studies, research and case studies that demonstrate organisations and businesses that have better gender equality and greater inclusion and diversity perform better. So putting it simply – if you want to be a high performing organisation, you need to see this as a commercial imperative.
On that basis, we looked at what can we do at 6 Group to ensure our processes, systems and services were enabling gender equity and reducing inequality. By virtue of this, it was ensuring we could deliver to our clients the ability to have a complete ‘UNFAIR’ advantage over their competitors in attracting ‘the best talent’ in the whole market irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual preference, age or socio-economic status.
First, we took a simple step: let’s re-assess our diversity and inclusion statement. "Is it on the website? Do we put a statement on every document we send to the market where we are trying to attract talent?". We re-wrote it and have now implemented it as a compulsory requirement for all attraction materials.
Next, we looked at our proprietary selection methodology. When it was created, we had a focus on ensuring it was culturally agnostic, but that was 15 years ago. We double checked the language, the matrix of evidence that supported how we described ‘great’ and how we described ‘below satisfactory for the role’. That language was all de-genderised.
We now have a selection methodology that doesn’t imply any gender or cultural bias, nor does it imply and socio-economic status. It is a selection methodology focused on competency and capability.
Further, we actively push our attraction to avoid looking at the ‘right CV with the right companies’ listed on it. In line with the selection methodology we look at the ‘functional Must-haves’ not the right companies. By doing this we are focusing on the right ‘Capability’ to do the job rather than the right ‘Experience’ to be in the job!
These two areas of work underpin everything we do at 6 Group. They drive our ability to seek and find highly capable, diverse talent. By having a wholly inclusive and equitable sourcing and selection process the result of this will be a more diverse and equitable shortlist for our clients.
Further to this, we have piloted running blind shortlisting presentations with all candidates presented having their gender, race, age and other indicators that may identify them removed from our reports. This is something we now offer our clients.
For every search, mapping and pipelining project, we track the percentage of gender diverse candidates identified. We then track those levels as we progress through the different phases of a search to ultimate shortlisting and placement. We do this to provide insights and data to ensure we know how to do better on this next time.
This is just a start for what we can do here and now to ensure we are actually doing something about levelling the playing field for all. We still have other things we want to do to help in real systemic change. We are currently evaluating what social or charitable organisations we can work with and support, are there other commitments we can make to gender equality and reduced inequality.
The journey has just begun for us on this, but it is a great start. We look forward to our team pushing us on new and inspiring ways to see how we can grow our influence in these two important areas.
The last of our UN Sustainability Development Goals that we as a business are going to commit to is at the heart of our Net Zero and beyond aspirations. It is UNSDG 13 Climate Action.
Over the course of this year, we have been focusing on what we need to do as a business to minimise and neutralise our impact on the environment. There are two ways in which we can do this: 1. Mitigation – what can we stop right now and never have to do again in the future and 2. Adaptation – what do we need to start putting a plan in place for to start minimising our impact. When we talk about emissions, there are three types - Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3.
Scope 1 emissions are those that you as a company produce as a result of your direct business operations. Most manufacturing companies or companies that actually produce a product will have more of these than companies like ours that are a service sector based firm. So, the impact we have from what we actually deliver is minimal, but that is where we need to focus on Scope 2 and the much harder set of emissions of Scope 3.
Scope 2 is where we have been able to mitigate a large part of our firm’s impact on emissions. Our consumption of Electricity, Gas and Water. Straight away we have been able to ensure that the electricity we purchase is 100% renewable. The provider we have gone with also contributes to social sustainability through their use and investment in renewable energy to communities around the world and in the UK. From a Gas and Water perspective the same applies. We now only purchase gas from 100% renewable sources and our Water comes from a provider that looks at sustainable practices. So immediately we have been able to ‘net zero’ our consumption of power that could create emissions.
Scope 3 is much harder. In the case of companies that produce a product, there is a grey area with regards to who is responsible at end of life of that product. In particular electronic goods such as Laptops, TV’s and other appliances. The actual manufacturers of those products produce and sell them, but their responsibility for the ongoing carbon footprint and emissions impact seems to stop there. We as consumers most definitely do not take on the responsibility of what we do with those products – the most we may do is to send them to the tip where we are forced to put them into a recycled part of that facility or worse still just put it in our bins. The disposable society we have all become used to has given us an expectation of just being able to buy another one!
Scope 3 for us is predominantly focused on the IT equipment we use and the air travel that we would have normally done in a pre pandemic world. The airlines deal with their emissions through taxes, ticket prices and carbon charges, but we still have an impact with the use of the plane. So, we are taking a view to measure the travel by plane, car, train to understand what emissions impact that has. In terms of our IT, we ensure we use equipment that has an after life. All our laptops, printers, mobile phones are all renewed, refurbished and resold at the end of their 6 Group life. We are now looking at also only purchasing refurbished stock as well.
Is it possible to mitigate everything?
The thing is, I am not sure we will ever be in a position that means we can mitigate everything. We need to adapt our ways of working and constantly monitor our impact on the environment and society as a whole. As our business grows, so too does our potential impact. With that we need to have the agility and mindfulness of processes, policies and systems to address our impact at each stage of our development as a growing company.
The next step is to enrol us into a framework and organisation that keeps us firmly focused on this. That is why we are looking to become a B Corporation. The process ensures we are focusing on our environmental and social governance and of course continually keeping our commitment to Gender Equality, Inequality, Health and Wellbeing and Climate Action at the heart of our mission at 6 Group.
Becoming a Certified B Corporation®
In April of 2021, we committed 6 Group to set a path to become a net zero organisation and to live by our values to even ‘Go Beyond’ that. We wanted to be recognised as an organisation that is wholly sustainable, not just for the impact our business has on the environment, but for society, our stakeholders and most importantly, our employees. All of this needed to be underpinned by how we operate and the governance that supports that.
Fast forward to today and we are super excited to announce that we have received our BCorp™ certification, and we couldn’t be prouder.
During the past 18 months, we have made significant changes and improvements to our business , including changes to our legal status of ensuring all decisions made by the company are in the best interests of all stakeholders. We have reviewed our organisational protocols and procedures of all our service lines. Additionally, we have made imperative readjustments regarding the health and well-being of our employees, gender diversity and inclusion (reflected on our firm’s methodologies) and finally tackling our impact on the environment through changes to our electricity, gas, water, travel and IT equipment providers and recycling systems.
Throughout the application process, we were submitted to extensive auditing around five main impact areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. Based on this audit process, we were given a score and benchmarks to measure the areas where we are doing well and the ones we still need to work on.
This achievement, as impactful and extremely positive as it is for our organisation, is by no means the finish line; the journey continues. Short and long-term goals are now being set in order to ensure we continue to uphold the standards that are expected for a BCorp™ organisation and continue our Six to Zero journey.
"B Corp is the world’s most recognised and valued accreditation for a business to be seen as doing what is right for its people, the society it operates in and for the planet. This isn’t just a nice thing to do, but a commercial imperative for 6 Group. Ensuring everything we do is in the best interests of all of our stakeholders, including the planet is simply good business. It won’t be easy and we have a lot more to do. Afterall, it wouldn’t be 6 Group if we didn’t push ourselves to ‘Go Beyond’ …... and I love that!"