26 April 2017
Claudine Blamey on setting new standards in sustainability
Claudine Blamey, head of Sustainability and Stewardship at The Crown Estate, argues why sustainability should not be treated as an add-on or after thought but instead should be truly integrated within the commercial strategy of a business.
We have come a long way since the time when sustainability was seen as a business cost and inhibitor to commercial objectives. However, we continue to work against a tide of cynicism. Research shows that trust in business is at an all-time low with trust in media and politicians likewise. For those of us working to improve corporate responsibility, and communicate the benefits of responsible business for society at large, this is a sobering reminder of the work still to do.
"To make effective decisions we need to understand and measure our impact on all the different capitals our business depends on, not just the financial.”Claudine Blamey, head of Sustainability and Stewardship at The Crown Estate
Crucial to our success will be how well we integrate sustainability, and CSR, into decision-making. Only when it is embedded in all the decisions of a business will it become everyone’s responsibility. To make effective decisions we need to understand and measure our impact on all the different capitals our business depends on, not just the financial.
Since 2013, The Crown Estate has been working to understand how we can better measure and communicate the broader impacts of our activities, and those of our customers and partners. We call this approach ‘Total Contribution’ as it allows us to look at the net impact of what we do. By taking a holistic view of our total business, we can make decisions which lead us to have less of a negative impact and more of a positive one, crucially supporting a more resilient business for the long term. In our latest report , published this January, we’ve been transparent that we are still on a journey. Some of the metrics we use are good, others still need more work. We believe that collaboration – with peers, with experts from outside our sector – will be the key to building a robust methodology which works across industries.
The driving force behind Total Contribution is its alignment with our commercial strategy. We believe that businesses do not need to choose between being successful and being sustainable. They are one and the same; for us a sustainable business is a successful business. Our vision is to create long-term value and resilience by considering the bigger picture.
For The Crown Estate, this means looking at the positive impact we can have on people, organisations and communities through our commercial activities. We don't operate a CSR fund, for example, instead we approach stewardship as a practical way to deliver projects which are aligned to our asset management and investment strategy. Our stewardship projects are led by our asset managers with the aim of delivering shared benefits and increasing the wider impact of our projects across education, employment, skills and environment.
We are also purposefully forward-looking with our business aspirations. They are aspirational, after all. Our aim is to remove all carbon and all waste from our business by 2030. Underpinning this is a focus on maintaining business resilience in a continually changing world so that we continue to create brilliant places that deliver long term value for customers, visitors, communities, and for us.
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