Why an effective ESG strategy is important for WCS (and our customers)
What is it that makes certain companies and investments perform better than others? A great CEO and sound financial management, of course. But today, an effective ESG strategy is one of the highest marks of a company’s performance. From employees to investors and regulators, everyone involved in a company ecosystem is affected by ESG strategies, demanding that companies treat their people and our planet with respect and focus on long-term sustainability.
What is ESG reporting?
ESG is a framework for considering environmental, social, and governance factors as well as financial factors in the investment process. Investors also use it to assess which companies could make viable investments.
ESGs and SDGs are the fabric of WCS Group
WCS Group is committed to maximising its long-term positive contribution to society and the world’s resources whilst minimising any adverse impacts our business may have.
- We strive to give our clients and the wider community a service that is sustainable, compliant, reliable, and safe.
- We seek to use technology as an enabler to help us address our environmental impacts as well as those of our clients.
- We are committed to providing our people with a safe and healthy working environment.
WCS Group has aligned its ESG strategy with the relevant United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs), ensuring we are actively giving both the UK and the world a better future. We have brought stakeholders together to proactively address and solve challenges by addressing environmental, social and economic issues. In fact, we can only address complex sustainability challenges through our effort to collaborate with industry, customers, and society.
The business case for ESGs
But it’s not all altruistic; a robust ESG strategy also makes good business sense. Harnessing ESGs and the SDGs upon which they are based creates business opportunities across four key areas: growth, risk, capital, and purpose.
We all benefit from more resilient communities, better access to natural resources, and a healthy population. When companies drive growth toward these desired outcomes, they improve their ability to maintain a viable, financially sound company.
Companies will not be able to maintain their financial viability if natural and social capital is being eroded—a risk for businesses and society that will only worsen if unaddressed. Therefore, companies that prioritise their ESGs and measure and communicate how their actions are helping SDGs will create competitive advantages.
As climate politics becomes increasingly prevalent, more public and private investments will likely be made to address global developmental challenges. Climate finance will come from government and private sector schemes, and more innovative private sector financial products, such as green bonds, will be made available for climate investment.
Focus on purpose
The focus on ESGs is redefining the purpose of many companies. Contributing to the SDGs is a way to create shared value for stakeholders. Companies focusing on creating value for others and improving the world will likely increase their ability to drive profits and create sustainable value. Having a robust ESG strategy can engage and motivate employees, inspire opportunities, and make the company more resilient to risk.
What are WCS Group’s ESGs?
The E in ESG
The E in ESG revolves around how a company fairs regarding its environmental stewardship. It assesses how company activities impact the environment and how well environmental risks are managed. Direct and indirect operations are considered, including resource scarcity and management, natural resources preservation, and greenhouse gas emissions.
WCS Group’s strategy focuses on three core environmental impacts: water, waste, and emissions.
Water is at the centre of our business, which we actively protect through our services. We ensure water protection is a priority at our chemical manufacturing sites and are dedicated to supporting our clients to protect their water. We help them improve their water quality—maximising their water efficiency through reuse and recycling and reducing the proportion of untreated wastewater they create. Moreover, we are members of the Legionella Control Association and publish free publicly available advice on achieving water safety and efficiency.
Waste is something we try to avoid. We have recycling facilities at all our sites and ensure we fulfil our duties as a company that creates waste packaging. However, we believe in going one step further; we will completely stop sending non-hazardous waste to landfill by 2025.
Climate change has both global and local implications. We take decisive actions to ensure we are mitigating our direct impacts. For example, we use certified renewable electricity at our sites, hybrid/full electric vehicles are available to all company car users, and we are transitioning towards clean technologies for our commercial fleet.
Moreover, all our operations are certified to ISO14001, and we voluntarily undertake the CDP disclosure and assessment. We will be carbon neutral (net zero emissions) by 2035.
The S in ESG
The S in ESG refers to how well a company manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers, and local communities. Critical considerations include working conditions, health and safety, employee relations, and diversity.
At WCS Group, our people are our company, and our company values reflect this. Respect, integrity, reliability, and accountability ensure that we are all empowered to do the right thing and that our leaders do the right thing. Also, we aim to offer our people real opportunities for development and career paths. By 2025, we will be accredited to Gold Standard by Investors in People.
To be an industry leader, we must be community-focused, providing value to those outside our immediate employment. We already partner with charities that are linked to our core values and areas of expertise, but we are committed to going further for our communities. By 2023, we will donate one volunteer day per employee.
Safety is a cornerstone of WCS Group’s ethos and values. Everything we do starts with safety—it is the first item on the agenda at all our meetings and the foundation of how we deliver our services and products. We are certified to ISO45001 and have achieved the RoSPA Gold award.
The G in ESG
The G in ESG addresses a company's leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights. Investors need to be sure they can trust a company and confident that those in charge are taking the right decisions. Key issues include executive pay, gender equity and equal pay, bribery and corruption, and diversity.
How WCS Group runs the business is key to its sustainability. Our integrity embodies our approach to how we strive to do good business. We empower all our people to have a voice and encourage diversity of thought, employing people from all backgrounds. We are also signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant.
We believe in inclusivity and have an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee to drive continual improvements in this area. By 2023, we will recruit a minimum of 10% of our workforce from diverse backgrounds.
Furthermore, we recognise that responsible partnership, both upstream and downstream in our value chain, is the key to our success; therefore, all our operations are certified to ISO9001. As we believe innovation drives progress, we are looking for the next new way to make our value chain even more transparent. Thus, we will implement a value chain portal, providing complete transparency to our customers by 2025.
Conclusion – who cares wins
Socially responsible strategies were born in the 1960s to exclude stocks from investments that involved tobacco, guns, or regions in conflict. But the term ESG came from a 2004 UN study called “Who cares wins”, which is the essence of an effective ESG strategy. It is not enough to be seen to do the right thing; companies must have ESGs as their foundation. Consumers today care about ESG issues, which means businesses need to and must demand them of each other.
Written by Jon Greaves
Jon has progressively worked through operational roles, account management, technical management, and senior management roles over the last 16 years within one of the group companies before moving into the role of Water and Air Managing Director. Jon has experience across multiple sectors of water and air compliance, including district energy networks; data centres; healthcare; food and beverage and facilities management. Jon acted as a corresponding steering committee member on CIBSE CP1 – Heat Networks Code of Practice for the UK released in 2020.