#SustyTalk: BT & Landsec directors on achieving a sustainable recovery from Covid-19

This special edition of edie's #SustyTalk interviews with sustainability leaders connects BT's reporting & insight director Richard Marsh with Landsec's corporate affairs and sustainability director Caroline Hill - to discuss where sustainability and CSR sits in the UK's coronavirus recovery discussions.

With the UK on lockdown and edie readers working remotely or on furlough, #SustyTalk keeps you connected to the inspirational business leaders who are continuing to drive sustainability and champion climate action from their own homes.

In this episode, edie’s content director Luke Nicholls speaks with BT’s reporting & insight director Richard Marsh andLandsec’s corporate affairs and sustainability director Caroline Hill, who discuss how Covid-19 is impacting sustainability reporting, and what sustainable business will look like when we eventually emerge from the pandemic.

Richard, who is currently overseeing the development of BT’s 2020 sustainability report to be published in May, begins by explaining how the firm is adjusting that report development in light of the current situation. 

“We’re taking on the whole reporting process virtually – including assurance,” he says. “But it’s naturally brought some challenges. We of course typically report in terms of what’s happened in the year that’s just gone, but it would be quite remiss not to acknowledge the very fundamental thing that’s going on in the world right now – particularly some of the steps we are taking to respond to it.”

Responsible business opportunity

Landsec, meanwhile, has just welcomed in new chief executive Mark Allan. So, Caroline and her team are working to ensure he’s fully engaged with the group’s sustainability programme, albeit via Microsoft Teams rather than in-person.

Speaking of Landsec’s own reporting process, Caroline says: “At the moment we’re still crunching through the year-end numbers. One trend we’re seeing is all of the benchmarks like CDP or the DJSI are pushing back their timelines, which does ease the pressure a bit on the team and that’s very welcome.”

She goes on to discuss the “huge opportunity” that lies ahead for sustainability professionals in the wake of the current crisis – through an increase of awareness and an enhanced focus on social sustainability. 

“Awareness – particularly of air pollution – has massively increased in the past month,” she says. “Sustainability always needs to be put in a commercial context to be successful, but some of this is going to raise consumer awareness even further than it was already.

At Landsec, our community programmes have really ramped up in the last month. It’s always been important, but now it’s more important than ever. 

“Sustainability should have a big seat at the table in [coronavirus] recovery discussions. We should be positioning that in pounds and pence where that’s appropriate, but also more broadly we should be looking at responsible business and the need to be a good corporate citizen coming out of this.”

View all of edie’s #SustyTalk video interviews here

View more coronavirus-related content here

Want to be featured on a future episode of #SustyTalk? Email [email protected].  

edie staff

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