Leeds-headquartered Bailie Group, a family-owned communication specialist and United Nations’ named climate leader, has bolstered its bold net zero ambitions with a duo of announcements — the appointment of sustainability lead Katie McShera, and the accomplishment of the internationally renowned Planet Mark sustainability accreditation.
Acknowledging continuous progress, encouraging action, and building an empowered community of like-minded individuals, the prestigious certification provides a framework via which the Group — including each of its five companies — can remain accountable, as it takes positive and purposeful strides towards achieving its environmental and social goals.
The development follows a pledge by the Bailie Group to reach net zero by 2050, and to halve emissions by 2030. Philip Walter, chief operating officer, comments: “As a business we’re passionate about making a positive difference. In becoming Planet Mark certified, we’ve put our heads above the parapet, making some firm environmental and social commitments and ensuring that we’re accountable for seeing those through — an element that was particularly important to us.”
The process, which has taken around six months, wasn’t without its challenges, with baselining — the method through which an organisation determines its current performance so that improvements can be monitored and measured — proving particularly intricate. Philip continues: “What you can’t measure, you can’t manage so we knew that determining our starting point was a crucial part of the process. With this aspect now complete — despite some stumbling blocks along the way — the hard work can begin.”
Meanwhile, Katie’s role — the first of its kind within the organisation — will further complement the Group’s latest accolade, while underpinning the business’ long-term commitment to improving its sustainability and social value credentials.
Having always been passionate about pursuing roles in which she could make a meaningful difference, the former operations manager joins Bailie Group following a 20-year career with debt management charity, StepChange.
Initially employed on a temporary basis to help oversee the Group’s efforts to benchmark their emissions, it soon became clear that Katie’s transferable skills could bring long-term value to the team, resulting in a permanent contract.
On her new role, Katie comments: “The team at Bailie Group has given me a very warm welcome, and my most striking observation so far is how there doesn’t appear to be a hierarchy. No matter who you talk to, you’re treated as an equal and encouraged to share your ideas. This feeds into the positive premise behind the organisation and it’s so lovely to have found that real sense of purpose.
“Initially, my role involves supporting each of the companies to co-ordinate their sustainability efforts, providing support and advice as we drive our carbon reduction efforts during 2022. I’ll be making sure that our progress — whether that’s in terms of emissions or the delivery of social value — is tracked, so that we continuously improve.
“The scope to make improvements is really exciting, and the fact that we’re working on such a valuable cause — and aiming to make a really tangible difference both to people and the planet — makes every day rewarding.”
Environmentally conscious initiatives introduced by the Group over the past 12 months include installing LED lights with PIR sensors throughout the whole of the organisation’s recently refurbished Riverside House HQ at Canal Wharf Leeds; replacing gas boilers with air source heating and providing all staff with reusable water bottles and coffee mugs to negate the use of disposables. In addition to a cycle to work scheme, staff are provided with season ticket loans for public transport, plus all diesel vehicles are being progressively removed from Bailie Group’s fleet and electric vehicle charging points installed.
The business’ bold ambitions recently saw Bailie Group’s CEO, Fergus Bailie and COO, Philip Walter visit Downing Street to meet Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, as part of a select group of small and micro companies from across the UK.