September 18, 2020
Earth Allies: We all feel a need to be greener now
By: Accenture UK

Earth Allies aims to help Accenture employees reduce our collective environmental impact, say founding members Luke Ounsworth and Steve Stubbs.

Earth Allies UKI is a network of people aiming to influence and inspire individuals in how they live and work as well as how we apply technology to the environmental crisis. Luke Ounsworth and Steve Stubbs from the UKI Corporate Citizenship team are helping to launch Earth Allies and reflect on the ideas and aspirations behind the eco network.

Luke Ounsworth For Earth Allies, we had our science-based target and big corporate emission cuts commitments in mind from the beginning. We make impressive, impactful commitments on a corporate level but it’s not always clear how they trickle down to employees. Folks are aware but might be left thinking: ‘Right. OK. What can I do?’

Steve Stubbs That science-based target, which has been approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, pledges that we will cut our greenhouse emissions 11 percent by 2025 compared to what they were in 2016 – as an organisation.

But to the individual that might not immediately mean much. They could feel like a small cog in a big machine. Through the Earth Allies in the UK and Ireland, we want to share easy, small, but impactful changes that individuals can do to make a difference. One of our roles is to educate people. For example, ‘If all of our UKI employees do this one small thing, we’d reduce our carbon emissions by a significant amount.’ And taking it one step further, imagine if all 513,000 Accenture people globally did this one small thing, it would be reduced by so much more.

We want to get our people talking about ways they can make sustainable changes in their lives.

Personally, I’m really looking at how I can make sustainable changes now. Over the past year or two, I’ve become more aware and have been looking at what I buy, making sure that it’s sustainably sourced. I’m really into stuff like bamboo at the moment – everything I buy is bamboo-based!

Some people aren’t aware of how you can buy a slightly different product and reduce your carbon footprint by a significant amount. People just need some time to learn, become more aware and become more of a champion for sharing knowledge. Then when someone’s doing something that’s not sustainable, they can jump in and say ‘Hey, did you know you could do this instead?’

Luke I’m definitely coming at this from a very similar lens. If you’d asked me 18 months ago, I probably wouldn’t have had the same level of knowledge, or interest, if I’m being completely honest. I would take the eco-friendly option where I could, but I wouldn’t have baked that into my everyday.

But the environment has moved so far up the global agenda, I’ve gone on that journey with it and with everyone else as well.

It’s a step in the right direction. All the science that’s come out has said we have 10 years to 2030 to reduce the negative environmental impacts that we’ve seen. That message underpins everything that we’re doing from an eco perspective.

Steve From a global humanity perspective, the next decade is pivotal for us not teetering over the edge. The next decade is crucial and a lot of companies need to jump on board. There will always be a pull towards maximising profits and keeping shareholders happy, but that needs to be balanced with a culture of responsibility and giving employees the tools to act accordingly. It’s good to see a lot of companies are moving sustainability up the agenda because they do realise this next decade is going to be crucial.

Earth Allies is the start of Accenture UKI’s ‘Decade of Change.’ And as you said Luke, it’s a network to link us together and move us in a greener direction.

Luke We want to be innovative – that’s what we do as a firm – but I’d add you don’t always need to be innovative to have an impact. Sometimes it’s as simple as not buying fast fashion, or maybe doing two meat-free days a week. Acts like that are hardly ground-breaking, but the impact can be exponential.

Steve When it comes to innovation on the environmental front, it helps too that we are proactively diverse as an organisation. When you have many different people from different backgrounds, and from different walks of life – you’ll have different ideas and solutions, so that’s a strong point when we challenge our people to come up with innovative ideas.

Again, we’re global as well. We can look at what we’re doing in one country and ask ‘Will it work in this other country?’

Also, as a company, our people are at the forefront of technology in making efforts to harness new tech so things like VR, augmented reality, AI, blockchain, the internet of things. They will be able to transfer that knowledge into sustainability case studies and potentially come up with new tech and IT solutions. This is the goal of our eco-innovation programme.

Luke Aspirationally, we’d like to create an Earth Allies network that inspires other companies. We were one of the first organisations to have LGBT Allies and Mental Health Allies – colleagues identifying themselves as go-to people you could talk to – and they are a very visible presence within the firm, leading other companies to do something similar.

Earth Allies could be replicated in other companies. At the minute, it’s an internal programme, but if we can take it to clients and it becomes a conversation with our wider ecosystem partners, then potentially it could have a large transformational impact elsewhere. Let’s wait and see.

The Earth Allies UKI programme will launch later this year – watch this space.

Read how we are creating positive impact in the UK for our people, our communities and our planet.

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