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AGA SIEMIGINOWSKA, HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY

Oakley Capital
16 Dec 21

How to get ahead on sustainability, avoid greenwashing and boost employee engagement.

As part of our Portfolio Company Programme, Oakley recently held an ESG webinar that brought together senior leaders and sustainability experts from across our portfolio companies and wider network to debate the challenges and opportunities of integrating ESG principles into business strategies. Oakley’s Head of Sustainability, Aga Siemiginowska, shares her key insights from the lively discussion.

“ESG and sustainability are strategic priorities for Oakley: we believe that understanding them can  de-risk investments and create long-term value. Our commitment to ESG also reflects Oakley’s culture and principles that guide what we invest in, who we partner with, and how we strive to build successful companies in a sustainable way. If you’re a growth business thinking about how to integrate ESG into your business, here are some key considerations to think about.

Set yourself targets:

“It’s all well and good committing to cutting emissions and boosting diversity in your workforce, but how do you know how well or badly your business is performing? It begins with understanding where you stand, before agreeing targets to improve your performance. During the webinar we heard from Oakley portfolio company and education business IU Group, which has embarked on a decarbonisation journey by switching to electric cars, cutting corporate air travel and supporting rainforest preservation in Brazil.

Ask an expert:

“Partnering with an external sustainability consultancy can help you identify solutions. IU worked with DFGE and TUV SUD to identify exactly where its emissions were coming from and how to mitigate them. During our webinar, IU’s Iris Pfeiffer highlighted another benefit of working with an external partner: ‘Third party verification lends credibility to our efforts and helps us avoid accusations of greenwashing: our carbon reductions are tangible, and credible’.

Get accredited:

“So far, two Oakley portfolio companies have achieved B Corporation status, which recognises companies that prioritise people and planet alongside profits. We heard from Goodpoint founder Nicoletta Alessi who advises companies on how to win this coveted endorsement: ‘Brace yourself for a 12 month process that  will scrutinize your business on governance, workers’ rights, community and environment. Only one in three applicants are successful.’ So why persevere? ‘Our experience shows it can help attracting talent and investors’.

Involve your employees:

“During the webinar, guest speaker Ben Tuxworth of sustainability consultancy Anthesis shared some statistics that grabbed my attention, including the finding thatalmost 70% of Gen Z say sustainability is important in choosing which company to work on. Growth companies are in a war for talent. One portfolio company told us that involving employees in its net zero strategy through pitching ideas and helping to select carbon offsetting projects has helped support engagement and recruitment.”

Conclusion:

“Embracing ESG and sustainability for the first time can be daunting for any company. Get ahead by getting help, not just from external consultancies, but also by joining organisations such as PRI and iCI. Read up about the latest developments: my go-to source is the FT’s Moral Money newsletter, as well as MSCI’s ESG Now podcast. And leverage your network, including ESG peers at other companies in your sector, city or region.”

AGA SIEMIGINOWSKA, HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY

Oakley Capital

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