Meet the Sustainability Leader: Consultancy – Forster Communications
With entries now open for edie's Sustainability Leaders Awards 2020, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2019 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winner of our Consultancy of the Year Award, Forster Communications.
Forster is a social change PR agency with a dedicated history of practising what it preaches. As a founding UK B Corporation, Forster has met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This approach has been coupled with an impressive track record of working with clients that are at the forefront of corporate sustainability across a plethora of action points.
Forster is dedicated to moving its clients towards a better and more prosperous world by equipping them with expert PR and communications skills and bespoke advice that turns corporate ambitions into game-changing action. The organisation crafts bespoke communications through an innate understanding of the landscape, its clients and the wider sphere of stakeholders it is seeking to inspire. Whether it is developing a strategy or executing the campaign activation and corporate PR, Forster has a portfolio of global clients that have a razor-sharp focus for sustainable change.
With 22 years of sustainability expertise and insights, the organisation connects clients to wider networks that continuously consider emerging risks and opportunities. Impressively, Forster has worked on a variety of campaigns that focus on different sustainability touchpoints, from fast fashion and recycling to the widely acknowledged yet little acted upon Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By involving itself with a variety of change agents and organisations such as the B Corporation group, Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and organisations like the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) – of which Forster’s chief executive sits on the board – the PR agency works to turn positive thinking into influential action.
Team Forster uses a bespoke evaluation model to create KPIs based on campaign deliverables (reach, engagement, action and impact) for each client sustainability project and is increasingly working with companies that are using the SDGs as a barometer for CSR action. In fact, Forster believes that the SDGs represent the biggest global challenges and is attempting to turn the Global Goals into a more tangible and engaging framework for corporates.
Importantly, Forster has equipped teams and corporates with the tools and narratives to make a difference inside and outside the organisation. In fact, 100% of clients said they were ‘satisfied/very satisfied’ in a post-project client satisfaction review. Elsewhere, 45% of clients said the quality of work provided by Forster ‘exceeded their expectations’ and 88% ‘agreed/strongly agreed’ that the work created or contributed to social change in post-project client satisfaction reviews.
Notable external projects include receiving 9,839 parcels and diverting 35.5 tonnes of clothing from landfill in the six weeks following that launch of the reGAIN app; working on UKSSD’s report showing how the UK is performing against the SDGs and developing; and embedding CSR programmes with large global organisations like DP World and Astellas.
But the company has also embraced the sustainability ethos internally. Forster is committed to change at every level from interns and work experience placements right through to the board. Forster is a UN Global Compact (UNGC) signatory, is ISO 14001-certified and works with pioneering organisations to push the sustainability agenda and become leading voices. Internally, the organisation incentivises walking and cycling amongst staff via cashback schemes and extra holiday opportunities. A dedicated CSR champion is tasked with finding opportunities to improve performance across the SDGs that have been identified as areas of real impact for Forster.
Progress is reported to the board quarterly, while workshops and biannual personal development reviews provide a forum for new ideas to improve operational performances and drive new business across the impact targets. Notable internal achievements include sending no waste to landfill and reducing total waste by an average of 35kg per month. Paper usage has been reduced by 25%, while carbon emissions (per capita) and water usage have been reduced by 11% and 23% respectively.
A regular newsletter, blogs and thought-leadership pieces in external press outlets are all used to help share Forster’s sustainability commitments and purpose. The organisation has also appeared at events such as the UN SDG Business Forum and World Business Council for Sustainable Development Leadership meeting in New York.
“We spend all of our time working on social change and we are completely committed to turning ambition into action – so to have that realised and recognised is really exciting,” Forster’s chief executive Amanda Powell-Smith told edie.
What the judges said: “The Forster Communications entry inspired the judges with its wide array of projects, supported by clear data on environmental impacts. Forster’s work on raising awareness of the SDGs is also very welcome, and the company clearly combines a strong sustainability culture with very good customer service.”
edie’s 2020 Sustainability Leaders Awards
Now entering their 13th year for 2020, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are sure to be one of the biggest nights of the year in the sustainability and energy space, with some exciting new categories added to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business.
The 2020 Sustainability Leaders are now OPEN for entries. The entry deadline is Friday 27 September 2019. The Awards will then take place on the night of 5 February 2020 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster.