A rising tide lifts all boats - The power of business sustainability education

A rising tide lifts all boats - The power of business sustainability education
October 2023
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Fireside chat with Máire Fay, Head of Sustainability, Education & Development, Dublin Chamber

Here at Dublin Chamber, our role, first and foremost, is to represent and support businesses of all sizes from all industries. We speak and lobby on their behalf, but we also listen – meaning we can offer a wide range of services relevant to the needs of businesses today.

I research, develop and lead new sustainability projects and continually innovate on existing ones, such as the Sustainability Academy, which was established in response to these needs.

Our classes are virtual but in a live classroom, taking leaders through all the critical areas of ESG, otherwise known as Environmental, Social, and Governance factors.

Máire Fay, Head of Sustainability, Education & Development, Dublin Chamber

From workshops on sustainability 101 to carbon strategy, from carbon footprint to the circular economy and green public procurement, our courses form a pathway that participants can follow from start to finish – or pick and choose what areas they wish to focus on.

It can seem like such an enormous undertaking, but Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither is a good sustainability strategy.

We undertook extensive research, including our 2022 Sustainability Survey, conducted with Amárach Research and learned that many of our member companies wanted to take action but didn’t know where to start.

Many could see the benefit of having a roadmap but were unclear about how to do that on a practical level and where to start.

We wanted to demystify business sustainability and offer tangible support to help businesses through the process one step at a time.

That’s why we also offer one-on-one support along with the workshops, as we are keen to strip back the complexities and encourage action, not confusion.

We also see the separation of priorities as a barrier somewhat since organisations should embed sustainability into core business strategy as opposed to it being a separate policy.

All classes are held live online, allowing participants to learn from experts while discussing and brainstorming relevant issues with their teacher's assistance.

We see representation from all industries of all sizes with various motivations to take the courses, which is wonderful as it leads to diverse discussions and great idea-sharing.

One of the most valuable assets at Dublin Chamber is our network, so members can access our award-winning workshops, a robust community and various supports that will help them push forward in their efforts to be more sustainable.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Sustainability Survey 2022 by Dublin Chamber.

It can be deliberating to find a community, a tribe of those in the same position or those who might be already on their journey. This is where the power of collaboration can never be underestimated. Especially when you are starting, it is good to know that you are not alone.

One of the biggest revelations during our course is that ‘it is doable’!

All these things will help you be honest about your sustainability journey – with yourself, your customers, employees and other stakeholders.

You can create a sustainability strategy to be as truthful and realistic as possible, making your objectives and timelines more achievable and strengthening your position towards reaching your goals.

We are delighted to see more companies choosing to upskill in this area based on market needs. This happened with Cpl, Ireland's most prominent and longest-standing recruitment agency.

They noticed a significant increase in supplier requests for sustainability criteria and were unsure where to begin answering them.

Since 2020, Cpl has made significant progress and has gone from a limited knowledge of sustainability to developing their first sustainability strategy and report, establishing baseline data and disclosing it to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project).

While they did bring in external support to execute their plans, they gained a strong foundation of knowledge.

Looking at our progress and seeing companies going through transformational changes, I have noticed that once you are in, you are in. Once you care, you care.

It certainly has been a challenge to raise awareness of the importance of running greener businesses, but I can honestly say that it’s also been so rewarding.

Word of mouth has been so valuable to us, and it is also a great vote of confidence to know that our participants are happy to recommend their experience.

Besides, we also use various channels to communicate sustainability topics to our members, aiming to make it as easy as possible to understand the relevance and access support.

Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more informed your decisions will be.

It is a challenging landscape out there at the moment, and the recently published IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Synthesis Report offered some very sobering data.

However, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool optimist and believe we can achieve astonishing change as a global community.