Archive for the ‘CSR’ Category

A week ago the Conversation Society hosted its third debate which looked at Sustainability: Is business doing enough? Is it OK to profit from sustainability?

Next to talk from our panel was Donna Young, who is the CSR Programme Director at BT

Donna starts off by looking purely at the environmental aspects of the organisation. Their first environment team was set up about 1990’s and first targets were set in 1992.  Towards the end of the 1990s there were some enlightened souls that worked in BT who really pushed for the agenda and said, “Actually, we need to have ISO 140001 and we need to manage all of our aspects, not because we have a legal requirement but because actually this is really important for the organisation”.

The next strategic intent looked at a bigger picture and Donna’s role was to look at how Climate Change could be embedded into the business as well as creating a business case for it and how it could be driven.

It’s taken  four to five years, but the company now has six strategic intents for being responsible and sustainable business.  One of the things it aims to do is to look at those aspects under those areas and how best to innovate them, create change, lead and support the value chain, from their suppliers through to their customers.

Donna continued to leave us with some food for thought, “if you think about it, at the moment about 80% of the jobs are online.  If you don’t have a job at the moment and you’re not online and don’t have access, how do you get out of that spiral of never having a job?  Most jobs today, any job that you go to, in any industry, most jobs will have some form of an ICT requirement in them, even if it’s working in a retail outlet.  You think, “Oh, working in a shop, I don’t need it”.  Yes, you do.  So how do you actually up-skill these people?”

BT is now looking at sustainability to give every UK citizen the same opportunities and help them out by rolling out a massive programme called “Get IT Together”.  It their digital inclusion programme to decrease the number of people who exclude the digital space and the reasons why people overlook it is because they may not be interested (as it’s usually an age thing with the vast majority of people being over 55.)

Donna continues to talk about the overall carbon footprint of the products that those products and services are producing:  “Looking at the “2% Club”, the airlines are in the 2% club, that they get lambasted by everybody because they’re an easy sitting target.  Telecoms is 2% too of the world problem and it’s set to grow to 4%.  The Jesse report states that ICT can help the carbon footprint by a factor of 5, which means, although it’s going to grow, actually it can reduce other areas to actually help with that overall climate change issue and reduction that the global world is actually seeing at this moment.  Especially when one starts to see the emerging economies like India.  They’re coming up, they’re going to grow bigger.  They want the same lifestyles as us and Why not?  How can we say to India.”

BT as an organisations as an industry have to look at how they can create those level playing fields and help these industries and countries grow, in a way that doesn’t add that extra burden that Jo talked about in terms of 50% more food production, 25% more water, etc, and water being the next — in fact, it is the more scarce commodity going.

Donna took the opportunity to talk about ‘BT MyDonate,’as it comes as logic to everyone that when there is an economic downturn charities tend to suffer the most as people give less.  What BT knows is that when people do give online, they tend to give 50% more than if they were giving on a piece of paper and handing it around.

Donna talks about how the charity is run “we don’t charge them anything. We don’t charge a commission for setting up, we don’t charge them an admin fee, we don’t take any percentage commission of the donation, so everything goes to charities, and it goes to any charity that actually signs up.  It’s their way, again, of giving back to the community, back to society.”

Donna concludes the discussion by saying “Looking at this sort of triple bottom line of sustainability is to try and look at them all hand in glove and say, “How does our technology help resolve the issue?  How does our products and services contribute to making a better world and a better future for people?” The main reason that we get involved in sustainability is because it is good for our business, it’s good for society.  This is actually a win-win situation and that’s really what we’re trying to create.  That’s it.”


Wolfgang Weinmann, CafeDirect, continued the debate by talking about the efforts that CafeDirect has made since its inception, how it became the first large beverage company to ensure that sustainability was deeply engrained into its business operations and how sustainability helped CafeDirect defined itself as a company.

Wolfgang began by asking whether or not you could profit from sustainabiluty and argued that it is in fact sustainability that benefits from business and profitability. He used the example of sustainability in the supply chain – how you can use a process that involves several different stakeholders to identify opportunities for sustainability and really drive benefits.

He raised an interesting point around how businesses must help consumers behave in a more sustainable manner. The issue that CafeDirect faces as a hot beverage company its their consumers who have the larger carbon footprint. To this extent he claimed that what his business needed to do was to help their customers find more effective ways to benefit from sustainability – and the best way for CafeDirect was to improve the supply chain.

Wolfgang also commented that whilst businesses must improve their environmental footprint, they also have to consider their social footprint – particularly in developing companies.  For CafeDirect, as with most businesses, the aim is to deliver an outstanding product so how can businesses ensure that they also consider sustainability and CSR when the product is a priority.

He raised an interesting point – organic food may be syonymous with  sustainability but because the consumer sees no real benefit despite paying more for a product,  its no wonder that organic consumption has fallen in the last few years.

To the above point, he highlighted that CafeDirect was not a profit driven business, instead it was about finding the most sustainable way to operate its business through every step of the supply chain. He referenced the close relationship CafeDirect has with its farmers to ensure that when they go to market, the farmers are assured that the drive for profit does not distract the business from ensuring that it does its best for those it works with.

Join the conversation at next week’s event.

4th speaker announced! Jo Daniels, Marketplace Director at Business in the Community.

Date: Tuesday July 12th from 6.30pm – 8.00pm Venue: The Shooting Gallery, The Haymarket Hotel, Confirmed speakers:

  • Donna Young, CSR Programme Director, BT
  • Wolfgang Weinmann, Director of Strategy, CafeDirect
  • Matt Bell, Group Head of External Affairs, Berkeley Group Holdings PLC
  • Jo Daniels, Marketplace Director at Business in the Community

A bit more about our speakers:

Donna Young – Donna has been at BT since 1992. Her career has led her to work in various positions such as Head of at Climate Change and Head of Communications & Engagement at BT. In these roles, she helped to develop BT’s environment & climate change strategy and generated new opportunities as a result of BT becoming more “green”.  She also helped to set the strategy and manage the implementation of BT’s portfolio transformation in relation to communications and change in behaviours through engagement with the wider community.

Wolfgang Weinmann –Wolfgang joined Cafédirect in 2005 and, prior to his present role, was the Head of the Producer Partnership Programme, the company’s unique social return initiative for and with producer partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

He now sets the strategic direction for the company and with a background within the sustainable development field, from humanitarian aid interventions, project design & management to senior consultancy assignments he’s the right guy for the job.

Matt Bell – Matt  joined Berkeley Group in March 2011 and is an experienced comms professional. He was previously Director of Education and External Affairs at CABE, where he led policy, research and campaign teams working across Government to improve the quality of housing, schools, and public space. During these 7 years, he also championed the Building for Life initiative, as well as commissioning CABE’s Housing Audit, a 3 year research programme that produced the first ever empirical assessment of the quality of new housing in England. He was also Director of Communications at VSO, he led various marketing, PR, and advocacy programmes working as part of the global senior management team.

Jo Daniels – Jo is the Director for the Marketplace Campaign and a member of the Executive Team at Business in the Community. She has worked with BITC for nine years with the last six spent developing the organisations work on how companies integrate responsible business into commercial operations – through customer and supplier relationships and new product development. This has involved working with leading companies including Cadbury, Unilever, Audi and Marks & Spencer

To register to attend this FREE event please visit

We would also like to ask if  anyone have any questions for our speakers?

We are excited to confirm The Conversation Society’s next event. Sustainability: Is business doing enough? Is it OK to profit from sustainability?

Date: Tuesday July 12th from 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Venue: The Shooting Gallery, The Haymarket Hotel,

Confirmed speakers:

  • Donna Young, CSR Programme Director, BT
  • Wolfgang Weinmann, Director of Strategy, Cafe Direct
  • Matt Bell, Group Head of External Affairs, Berkeley Group Holdings plc

Lots of people are talking about living sustainably these days but do we all mean the same thing? How can we all use less but create more? Can green ever be mainstream? Is business turning light bulbs off or on with customers?   From health and wellness, through to protecting fragile eco systems, engaging employees and customers, sustainability is a big topic. To lead the conversation, and explain what excellence in sustainability means to their organisations and their stakeholders, our expert speakers will each speak for 10 minutes – no visuals, no PowerPoint, no charts, just conversation. Then it’s up to you.

To register to attend, please visit

Remember you can also follow the conversation via Twitter, @ConverSociety and by using #conversationsociety