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Why we are doing sustainability at Clarasys – PODCAST

Clarasys's Sam Maguire, Sarah Hammond, and Steven Writer-Maguire discuss sustainability at Clarasys.

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Clarasys's Sam Maguire, Sarah Hammond, and Steven Writer-Maguire discuss sustainability at Clarasys.

 

In the very first episode of our brand new podcast series, 'Clarasys presents: Simply Sustainability', Sarah, Sam, and Steven discuss why we are doing sustainability at Clarasys. They touch on; why sustainability is important to them, why the next generation should be a key motivation to make changes, and why we are the right consultancy to work with for clients with sustainability challenges. Read on for an edited transcript below.

 

 

Sam Maguire: Welcome to our Simply Sustainability podcast presented by Clarasys. In this series, we look at what can sometimes be the intimidating topic of sustainability and break it down into digestible bite-sized chunks to help you on your way to a more sustainable future.

Sarah Hammond: Today, we're going to be talking a bit about why sustainability is important to us and all about our sustainability proposition at Clarasys, but first just wanted to spend a little bit of time introducing our guests, which I'll let them do for themselves. And so Steven, if you're okay, could you introduce yourself?

Steven Writer-Maguire: Hello everyone. I'm Steven, I'm the chief client officer at Clarasys. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we're going to grow the business and do the work that our people are excited to deliver and make sure our clients are happy for us to be there.

Sarah Hammond: Amazing, thank you. And Sam?

Sam Maguire: Yeah, great to be here. So I'm Sam, I'm the sustainability lead at Clarasys. I've got kind of dual hat - one, helping us think about kind of the sort of work that we want to do with clients around sustainability and helping them, improve their own sustainability. And then also thinking about how Clarasys can become a truly sustainable organization, so thinking about our own carbon emissions footprint, thinking about how we can drive as much social value through the work that we do as possible.

Sarah Hammond: And I'm Sarah, I'm a senior consultant at Clarasys, been working within sustainability with Sam as well, and I'm just going to spend a bit of time today asking Steven and Sam some questions about sustainability. So to begin with, can you tell us why sustainability is important to both of you?

Why is sustainability important to you? 

Sam Maguire: I grew up in Northern Ireland in kind of a rural area. I spent a lot of time outside. I got quite close to the natural environment that was kind of augmented. My mum is a natural scientist, and my grandparents were - one of them's a botanist, the other one's a zoologist so spent a lot of time learning and being told a lot about the natural world. And so learned a kind of a real passion for the environment through that. And I guess then at university I started to look more at the social side. So it was heavily involved in student politics. I started to kind of really learn more about social mobility, learn more about diversity inclusion, and some of that kind of the social side of sustainability as well.

And all of that was great and something that was something that was interesting, but not necessarily where I wanted to build my career until I went to spend some time in China. I spent some time in Shanghai. And what I found was that the climate crisis there was beginning to take hold.

So in terms of flooding in Shanghai, in terms of outside of the climate crisis, but, the problems they have with air pollution, you could see how the natural world and problems within the natural world, were creating huge social problems. So be it how people were exposed to a greater health risk because of air quality or their homes were at risk because of flooding.

That for me really brought home that actually the climate crisis was a here and now thing, and something we have to tackle. And that's kind of where things really sparked for me in terms of interest in sustainability.

Sarah Hammond: And I think those real visceral experiences of seeing it happen in real life showcases the importance of looking at sustainability, holistically, across the environment and the social impacts as you said.

Steven, if I could direct to you as well, why is sustainability important to you?

Steven-Writer Maguire: Yeah, sure and building on what Sam said, because, you know, aside from doing the right things to the planet because let's face it, if we don't, we're all screwed right? Sustainability for me represents a set of values and aspirations as human beings and set an example and legacy for my kids really, which means for me, it's about respect and empathy. About stewardship of, yes, the planet, but also having a longer-term view of the impact. We leave on the people we work with, the jobs we do, you know, that the fingerprints we leave behind really. So for me, sustainability is about humility and treating those around us who share the little blue marble we call home, you know, with respect and compassion.

So I think yes, environmental and the net-zero aspects are obviously key to it. But, but for me personally, it's a little bit more fundamental set of beliefs and values that, you know, I want my kids to aspire to as decent human beings.

Sarah Hammond: Yeah, definitely. And I think that touched on a really good point in terms of that next-generation being such a motivation. For me when I look at my niece and my nephews, that's what brings it home that I want them to grow up in a safe and happy, and fruitful world. As you say it is all about the next generation that we need to do this for.

Steven-Writer Maguire: Yeah. Yeah.

Sam Maguire: I completely agree with that. Some of my thought is also though quite selfish. I want it to be a great world for myself as well. So I think there's absolutely that point about the next generation that's key and we need to make decisions with the next generation in mind. But because of the urgency of the climate crisis, I also want a nice world to live in. And I think that's pretty key to me as well is that slightly selfish drive.

Steven-Writer Maguire: Right. I think the thought cross my mind this morning - my in-laws have just gone on holiday to somewhere nice where they can go snorkeling and scuba diving. And I had a very sad thought that I hope I get to do it before it all gets bleached and it's disappeared again. I mean, you know, it's, I said that's a horrible existence. But yeah, so the urgency for making sure we don't lose those things today, you're right is about our generation, not just the next.

Sarah Hammond: Mm, and I guess our generation as well, having the ability to see it I think David Attenborough said recently about how he's seen a terrible decline in his lifetime. But actually, this generation now has the opportunity to see an amazing flourishing and rewilding and things coming about that we haven't seen in years. It's a massive opportunity. And I think that sentiment is one of hope as well.

Steven-Writer Maguire: I think that's a great message, Sarah, actually, and maybe one that that's a better message for people to tune into that this is an opportunity to see our world flourishing rather than from a point of fear of it diminishing. So there's an interesting theory of change there about what drives people's behavior. I hadn't thought of that before.

Sam Maguire: Yeah. One of my favorite podcasts is the outrage and optimism podcast hosted by Christina Figueres who's one of the key people involved in setting in the Paris agreement, and she wants people to be angry.

So to understand the urgency required, understand the crisis that we're experiencing, but also have that hope because exactly, as you say, Steven, if people lose all hope then that actually doesn't help with change at all. And I think it's always good to have that opportunist mindset of 'we can create something different'.

It can be a good and better world, as well as there are some fundamental things that we really rapidly need to fix.

Why did we decide to do sustainability at Clarasys? 

Sarah Hammond: So just to move us on now to specifically at Clarasys - why did we here at Clarasys decide to launch a sustainability proposition?

Sam Maguire:  The way to answer that question is it was really exciting to launch Clarasys sustainability because - one, we were doing some really great stuff from a social element already. So it was not starting from scratch. We've been doing some great work either through pro bono work, but more importantly through a lot of client work that is having a social impact. So there was a basis to start with from the kind of the social side.

Also, for me, it was really exciting because there was such an appetite for it. So across the organization. I think there was a question asked prior to me joining, about 'what would keep you at Clarasys for 10 years above what we already do?'. And one of the big things was 'if we started to do work in sustainability'. So there's a real appetite across the business from our internal teams through our consulting teams and through to leadership as well.

There was that kind of holistic ambition to do it and a real drive for it. For me personally, what was really good was coming to a consultancy that wanted to do it right. You look at some of the consultancies who are operating in the sustainability space and obviously not to be too defamatory, but, they are continuing to work with organizations who are putting us at risk of kind of extending the climate crisis or worsening the climate crisis at the same time that they're doing some really good sustainability work. I wanted to work for an organization that could be really credible in this space. So it would actually walk the walk themselves and try and be as sustainable as possible.

But also not to be hypocritical to do great work for great people who actually want to change. And for me, perhaps, this is the right place for it.

Sarah Hammond: Amazing, thank you so much, and I think that links really nicely back to what Steven mentioned earlier about values in terms of Clarasys being the right place to do it.

As you say, there's so much already part of Clarasys DNA in terms of social impacts and looking after its people that does make it the right place. And I think values is a really cool part of that. To move us on with a linking question to that - why is Clarasys the right people to partner with on sustainability work? Why are we the right people to work with?

Why are Clarasys the right consultancy to work with on sustainability issues

Steven-Writer Maguire: I'll start with that one. I mean, look, we love doing this type of work. And when you love something, you become great at it. But equally, we know what we're good at, and we know what we're not good at or not good at yet. And, you know, partnering with us, I mean, there'll be lots of firms out there I'm sure who will be creating fantastic marketing material and, you know, making huge claims they can save the planet in six weeks and probably making it up in the background and charging premium rates for it. But most of our clients listening to this will be figuring this out themselves too, and how to approach this problem. And so are we actually, and we are investing in building our own deep expertise and being very clear about what we can and can't do. But also creating an ecosystem of other people who are really great in what they do in their particular part.

So that means that if we say we can help you with the sustainability problem, we - the collective we, really can, and we'll love doing it. You'll have a great experience because you'll be working with people who are just as passionate about this as you are. And then together as a, as, as a partnership, we can start to leave fingerprints on this issue that will actually make a difference to the way people work, live and grow.

Sarah Hammond: Thank you Steven, and I think that ecosystem is something really important to pick up on. It's a key part of sustainability in terms of widening the network of actors that are involved in ensuring that we're gaining more narratives than just one.

And I just wondered Sam, if you wanted to add a bit more on the ecosystem of partners we're working with at all?

Sam Maguire: Yeah absolutely. So we recognize that we maybe can't be deep experts in kind of every element of sustainability, we know what we're good at and that's understanding people and their drivers. So we're really, really good at thinking about how sustainability might fit into your customer experience or your employee experience.

We're really good at kind of setting up your sustainability reporting or looking at the circularity of your processes, but there are elements where actually we're not the right people to do it. So we're working with a carbon emissions firm called BeZero, who are deep carbon experts. They really understand the carbon market and decarbonization.

They are absolutely fantastic. So we want to recommend them. We're working with Hubbub who are, a nonprofit who are specialized in sustainability and employee experience and bringing great sustainability training and engagement and we can learn from them. And because actually, we can bring more value to clients if we have worked with others who have a slightly different niche or understand different areas of sustainability better.

Sarah Hammond: And I think that Hubbub piece is a really interesting one in terms of they share the same passion as us of ensuring that we're knowledge sharing amongst our organizations.

And so I'm sure everyone now is chomping at the bit to understand a little bit more about our sustainability proposition, how we will approach sustainability work what our methods and processes look like Steven, Sam, open the floor in terms of giving a bit of summary about our proposition.

What is sustainability at Clarasys all about?

Sam Maguire: Yeah, happy to talk to that Sarah. So we have mentioned some of the things that we're trying to help clients with. One of the big things that we've seen as we talk to clients is a lot of them don't know where to start. Sustainability is such a big and complex term. It covers massive amounts of topic areas across the environment, be it carbon emissions, pollution, circularity, through to kind of social side - health, wellbeing, diversity inclusion, and social value. And the prosperity elements, so financing, sustainable change, looking at legislation and social equity.

It's basically really big and complex.

So one of the things that we want to really help clients with is making it simple, right? So helping organizations set their approach and agenda around sustainability, helping them integrate it.

The really key thing for that is understanding what's material. What's really important to those particular organizations. So taking them through a process where we help them identify what's really important to them and their stakeholders and then building their sustainability agenda around that and integrating it across the business as one area that we're looking at.

And we've got a couple of others that we're focusing on.

So we've just done a really interesting piece of work with the RSPCA, which is around circular economy. And that's something that we wanted to bring to other clients. And that's looking basically at all their different operating processes, understanding how they use resources, where they create waste, and then basically looking up the opportunities to one - use less, or, reuse what they use already and basically help them transition to a more circular way of doing things. We're also helping lots of clients with sustainability reporting and the big pieces around customer experience and employee experience and how sustainability can tie into those.

Sarah Hammond: Great, thank you, Sam. I think it's an incredibly exciting time to be at Clarasys and we've already got some amazing things going on. I'm excited. I know that you guys are, so I think it's a really special place to be at the moment.

Any final words or thoughts or comments on sustainability at Clarasys?

Final thoughts on sustainability at Clarasys

Steven-Writer Maguire: I suppose just one final one for me is, you know, that there are loads of firms talking about this right now.

And as Sam says, the topic is so big. So clients will unsurprisingly want to stitch together a best-of-breed type solution I imagine. And, working alongside other partners has always been part of the Clarasys DNA. And actually, it's one of our strengths in that we can also be the glue that helps stitch that all together to make sure that everybody is thinking about end to end.

You know, everyone is pulling, to the same aims. So we've always been a firm that works well alongside other firms, whether they're competitors or not. We're there to serve the interests of the client.

Sam Maguire: It's really exciting. So we're starting to do some really exciting work with clients who really, really want to make a change.

We've kind of talked a little bit earlier about people seeing this as an opportunity and I think a lot of our clients are starting to go, actually, we want to be different. We want to kind of leave a real legacy from our careers and really make some change. So what makes me really excited is that people are moving beyond their traditional mindset.

They really, really want to do great work here. They don't necessarily know how to do great work and that's where we come in and can really help them

Sarah Hammond: Great! Well, thank you so much for your time today. It's been really great to have the discussion and as, as I'm sure everyone can hear, we are very excited and we are looking forward to doing additional podcasts.

So please do tune in for more on employee engagement reporting and everything sustainability. We're really excited to have you on this journey with us.

Sam Maguire: Thank you for listening to our Simply Sustainability podcast. We hope, you enjoyed it. For more information, please contact us at sustainability@clarasys.com.