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Where we are, where we want to be

By Amanda Powell-Smith

Where we are, where we want to be

Forster has been living and breathing sustainability issues for our entire existence and central to that is our commitment that we always walk the talk. Even before we became a founding UK B Corp, we were committed to being transparent about our impact – good and bad – on the world.

But, reporting without action is ultimately meaningless. We want to learn from what we’re tracking and use it to do better – we are growing as a business and so too is the urgency of the sustainability challenge.

There are many things we’re proud of from 2018-19 and we have highlighted a few in the snapshot here.  As always, our biggest impact was made in partnership with our clients, helping them to turn their social change ambition into action, for example:

  • 35,000 kg of textiles were diverted from landfill through our work with reGAIN
  • 33,000 new volunteers were recruited for the NHS with our client Helpforce and the Daily Mail
  • 25,000 people registered to improve their numeracy skills as a result of National Numeracy Day, the campaign we ran with KPMG UK and their partner National Numeracy

We’ve also worked hard to make positive changes through our own business with examples including:

  • 33% increase in employee training, from 34 hours to 44 hours per head
  • 15% rise in employees involved in regular physical activity to 85%
  • 43% reduction in our GHG emissions from the previous year

The biggest and most urgent area for us to drive action on over the next few years is our impact on the environment. Having worked closely with organisations battling against the climate crisis, we know business as usual is not an option. We all need to take urgent action.

That’s why we recently became one of first agencies to publicly recognised there is a climate and ecological emergency and declare our ‘climate conflicts’.  While respecting client confidentiality, we have and will continue to reveal the percentages of our turnover by industry, including income from fossil fuel companies and other high-carbon clients.

We have also signed up to Business Declares and committed to putting in place an accelerated climate action plan that will help us achieve net zero before 2030.   We have done the easy bit, making the declaration and commitment. Now we need to deliver against it.

We are looking at what action we can take across three areas:

  • Ourselves – the footprint of our business
  • Our clients – the people we work for
  • Our community – the places, spaces and people around us and those we work with including our partners and suppliers

We’ve started working on a climate action plan to map our way towards becoming net zero and will talk more about that when it’s ready. But, for starters, we’re looking at all the policies and approaches we already have and are doing what we can right now to extend their reach and impact. For example, to encourage active and sustainable travel, for the past decade we have paid our staff 50p a mile to cycle or walk to a work meeting. We’re extending the same incentive to our clients and will pay them 50p a mile if they walk or cycle to a meeting with us.

We work hard to ensure we’re contributing positively, so were very gratified this was recognised by B Corp. We have, for the fourth time since certifying, been awarded ‘Best for the World’ in two areas (governance and workers).

We will continue to push ourselves to improve and make even bigger impacts in partnership and in how we conduct our business.  If you would like to chat about what we’re doing, or have ideas that could help us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Read our Impacts highlights for 2018-19 here