What makes a sustainability leader? Meet our Consultancy of the Year, Forster Communications
With the entry deadline for edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards approaching, this new feature series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: the winner of our Consultancy of the Year Award, Forster Communications.
Forster Communications works with businesses, charities, foundations and investors to tackle social and environmental challenges and create change. From a rapid pandemic response with NHS Charities Together and Neighbourly; to changing the face of retail with Selfridges, Danone and Patagonia; to inspiring individual action with Energy Savings Trust and Eden Project Communities, the business’ impact is growing in partnership with its clients.
As a UK B Corp, Forster actively contributes and shares best practice with others to accelerate progress. By thinking like a partner, the consultancy builds long-term relationships with individuals and organisations, which results in more than 90% of its work coming from repeat business and word-of-mouth.
Forster employs people who want a climate secure, sustainable, and just world which respects both people and planet. The business is a founding UK B Corp and is ISO14001 certified. Over the past five years, Forster has won nine B Corp Best for the World awards and was also named edie’s Consultancy of the Year in 2019.
In the months leading up to edie’s 2021 Awards, Forster committed to only buy from suppliers who have made a net-zero commitment from March 2022 – and to only work with clients who have made a public commitment to reduce their climate impacts from April 2023.
This is already true for most business clients – but not charities. Forster’s ‘Method to Mission’ report was written to encourage action in the charity sector. Working at the heart of Covid-19 response, the business is balancing emergency needs with desire to build back better, including by offering full support for NHS Charities Together, pivoting services to help RVS run NHS Volunteer Responders, helping Neighbourly, Danone and Penguin to support hyperlocal charities, and pro-bono support for Helpforce and CharityComms’ #NeverMoreNeeded campaign. The business encouraged Penguin Random House to speak out about the lack of racial diversity in the UK curriculum, securing more than 200 pieces of media coverage.
In addition to this, working with Neighbourly and its national partners including Marks and Spencer, Aldi, Lidl and Danone, Forster helped raise awareness of emergency pandemic support available and increased partner involvement, ultimately enabling its UK network of local causes to help more than four million vulnerable people.
The Community Action Response initiative Forster developed for Eden Project Communities at the start of the pandemic has been taken up across the country, supporting mutual aid and attracting cross-sector partnership.
Forster’s Climate Positive Plan also includes ambitious targets to decarbonise the business’s operational emissions and those elsewhere in its value chain. There are commitments to improve office energy efficiency and purchase recycled office furniture; incentivise employees and clients who walk or cycle; improve water efficiency; become a dairy-free and meat-free office and support employees to reduce emissions at home. Other pledges include helping the landlord and other tenants to reach zero-water-to-landfill and to deliver paper-free offices.
The impact is clear. The business has achieved a 79% drop in waste produced and a 43% reduction in energy use since moving office. What’s more, 37% of colleagues cycled to work in 2020 (up from 26%) and 92% took up the business’ offer of £100 worth of cycling kit to help them avoid public transport over. Additionally, 80% of colleagues use 100% renewable energy at home.
Now, Forster is working with progressive businesses to challenge and change structural racism, including seeking how it can improve diversity in its own organisation. Forster’s personal development programme includes one-to-one behaviour coaching and individuals logged 28 hours per person over the past year.
The business says it has responded to Covid-19 by “living its values”, from pro-bono support to sharing information and advice, and always looking after its team. With the second lockdown, it launched Better by Miles. This initiative combines Forster’s goals of colleague wellbeing and community support and actively shares it across its networks to help others overcome the challenge of the pandemic.
What edie’s judges said: “Forster has shown true leadership in the fields of both communications and environmental sustainability. The organisation has been a B-Corp organisation for many years and the team has established their Climate Positive Plan, which covers not only the company’s own operations, but also those of its suppliers and, indeed, customers.”
Are you our next winner?
After a tough and extraordinary year, edie’s RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are back for 2022, bigger and better than ever – celebrating the incredible people, projects and partnerships that are accelerating climate action and transforming business, for good.
Entries are now OPEN. The submission deadline for the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards is Friday 1 October 2021. The Awards is then set to take place as a live ceremony on the night of Wednesday 2 February 2022 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster.
Our ‘Sustainability Leader of the Year’ category is among the 23 categories to choose from. Make sure you get the recognition you, and your team, deserve. ENTER THE SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS AWARDS 2022 HERE.
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