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THE KNOWLEDGE 4 supplier perspective

Why we need…


A lack of round table discussions is holding back companies' green travel aspirations, says Paul Adderley, who calls for more 'green knights'

dominate. Gathering key stakeholders together like this is crucial to modern day business, but I believe there's a distinct lack of such round table discussions, and this can halt green travel aspirations. And whatever the aspiration, we need 'green knights'! Sustainable practices are most effective


when embedded across the organisation and, with engagement, green knights will emerge from key business functions. However, they need a round table to evaluate collectively the merits of sustainable travel. Sustainable travel is often perceived as a

joust between those responsible for carbon commitments and cost control. This is partly because relevant business functions – travel, management, health, safety, environment, HR, operations, sales and finance – need to focus on their primary objectives and gallantly defend their position. The finance profession

Paul Adderley

Managing Director, Sustainable Opportunity

Solutions Limited

Paul, previously a Senior Manager at

PwC LLP, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered

Accountants England and Wales, and an Associate of the Institute of

Environmental Management and

Assessment. Drawing on his professional expertise, he impartially helps

businesses to make sense of

sustainability and to assess its value to their strategy and bottom line.

at large is behind the sustainability engagement curve, and a strategy- focused FD will soon grasp the joined-up value in terms of risk management, brand development (reputation), profitability (cost control, productivity), and new business opportunities. The FD’s engagement

is essential to gather an overview of how low carbon travel can connect with business goals. At one blue-chip multi-

national, the sustainability group resides in communications with a

“Identify the green

knights in your company – ideally those with budgetary and decision-making

responsibility. The travel manager may be the right person to identify them”

team of conscientious carbon counters to report carbon emissions. Despite their reporting diligence, the carbon information disseminated to business travellers was not having a positive impact on behavioural change. It was more stick than carrot. A lack of

collaboration with the travel team, whose only involvement was the provision of raw data, also meant the carbon message was misunderstood. With a new sustainability manager focused on organisation-wide travel and communication, collaboration is improving, but they still require holistic measures of value for buy-in from the FD. Sometimes it takes an outside expert to help

connect the dots, and a conversation with a senior finance manager bridged the conceptual gap, that sustainable travel adds value across a business, not just cost savings. The company’s next step is to gather the

evidence from around the green table to measure the business benefits; similar to the approach Natural England took (see Quantifying going green in TBTM November 2011). For an SME, there may be fewer knights to gather, but engaging the key managers is

egend states that 25 prominent knights, all of equal stature, once gathered at a round table that ensured there was no head to

fundamental to success. One company wished to improve its fleet efficiency with technological solutions and drive efficiency training – a sensitive topic. Engaging knights of equal status meant a deal was struck. In this example, all drivers participated in ESTs training and the performance tables have delivered £4,000 (ten per cent) in fuel efficiency in five months. The first step is to identify the green knights, ideally those with decision-making and budgetary responsibility, and the travel manager may be suitable to identify them. At the first meeting it’s vital that any body armour is left at the door. In some cases, an external facilitator can assist with objectivity and group dynamics. That meeting should impartially identify core business objectives that deliver the strategic goals for the organisation. Then consider how business travel impacts these objectives. Agree on a common set of KPIs. Through dialogue, KPIs can be established that all stakeholders accept and can contribute to. For example CO2

per full time employee,

absenteeism per miles travelled, travel time per £ of new revenue, etc. At a follow-up meeting, agree how each

stakeholder can contribute to the KPIs, and map out the contributions (collecting data, communication/education, review systems etc). This helps identify synergies between functions, shares resources and makes sustainable travel manageable. Then prioritise actions by highlighting those

contributions which deliver ROI across a number of business objectives. Further meetings will report, review and refine. Embedding sustainable travel is an iterative

process. The initial actions and KPIs may not capture the business value as intended. Remember to stay true to optimising the business objectives rather than maximising just one. The challenge of working within the constraints of low carbon and cost effective goals, which improves traveller wellbeing, creates innovative solutions. With open dialogue and challenging fairly,

innovative solutions will be found and it is through innovation that a business makes a step change – a shift in their processes and culture, which in turn releases efficiencies and delivers ROI from a sustainable travel.


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