Climate Action Programme case study – Womble Bond Dickinson
International law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, is one of the founding members of the Legal Sustainability Alliance. Since launching its net zero strategy, the firm has already reduced its carbon footprint by 54% winning several awards in the process. In this case study, Net Zero Partner Jonathan Bower and Sustainability Manager Mat Swift share insights into the firm’s climate journey, and how collaboration is key to success.
Staff will lead the way
We have eight offices around the UK and 24 in the USA with staff engagement an integral part of our work. Here in the UK, we have created a net zero working group and recruited volunteer environmental representatives in each office. This has worked incredibly well, and our volunteers really are the ones who lead local initiatives and drive change throughout the business. They know their office better than any of us and they’re pivotal to the implementation of our net zero strategy.
We’ve got 30 representatives across the business and this number is growing. Most of the time people volunteer because it’s something that they’re motivated and interested in. We want to empower our representatives as much as possible so that they have a say in their local office and community. For all of our colleagues at the firm, we offer a range of environmental training, workshops and volunteering which help to educate, engage and have conversations.
We collaborate at every opportunity, and it’s something we would recommend to everyone, particularly when looking to reduce emissions where you don’t have full control. For example, here in Bristol, we’re in a multi-tenanted building. We knew that if we wanted to influence change, we would need to connect and collaborate with other tenants to leverage our position, and this is something we have been able to do.
We have found that if you can go to your landlord or property manager with a collective voice, most of the time you will have a positive response when it comes to embedding change. It also helps if you can embed environmental issues and strategic objectives in your agendas.
Five of our eight UK offices are now powered by renewable energy, and our goal is to reach 100% wherever possible. Things have changed a lot over the last six years, and it shows that our sustainability strategy is a core part of everything that we do.
Bring everyone on the journey with you
We are now in perhaps one of the most challenging phases of our work to date, measuring and reducing our Scope 3 emissions. There is no common assessment for analysing and reporting Scope 3, and the level of supplier engagement really depends on the relationship and status of our contracts.
We have focused our efforts on updating our procurement processes and using our spend data to target engagement. However, some of our suppliers are just not ready to meet this requirement. Although this is challenging, we are determined to bring everybody on this journey with us.
We’ve developed a supplier code of conduct and sustainability is a key agenda item for every contract review and within our supplier KPIs. In September, we hosted a Planet Mark workshop with 40 of our suppliers to set out our ambitions and bring home the why behind our information requests. The big takeaway was just how committed those in attendance are to working collaboratively and making a positive impact. We are now exploring options for future sessions, for example, tailoring them to ensure the technical elements on the reporting side are covered.
- Collaborate. Whether you create your own internal working groups or join larger networks such as Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s Climate Leaders Group or the Legal Sustainability Alliance, by working collaboratively you can build your expertise and effect change at a faster pace.
- It’s a learning curve. Try not to compare yourselves to others or worry whether you are going to get it right the first time. There are a range of free resources and support available through, for example, the Climate Action Programme and in our experience, people in similar roles are always willing to help and share advice.
- Be bold. Some of this work requires a leap of faith and thinking outside the box to create the solutions needed. Working with initiatives such as Planet Mark can be a great way to give you the tools you need to push forward and realise your ambitions.
- Explain the benefits. When engaging staff, you will have a greater rate of success if you highlight the benefits for people and planet. Back up what you’re saying with data and demonstrate how the business will support your staff to make the changes required.
Through our Climate Action Programme collaboration with the Redcliffe & Temple Business Improvement District, we’re keen to showcase climate progress in this area of the city and create more opportunities for businesses to learn from one another.
If you have an initiative or project we can shout about, please do get in touch (email@example.com).