Think Big be Bold
This is the call to action that Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business (Plan A) at Marks & Spencer issued to leading law firms when he joined the President of the Law Society Christina Blacklaws. They were discussing the synergies between the legal profession and retail firms as they work to tackle sustainability challenges.
Mike, who is the Board Director responsible for the ‘Plan A’ campaign, encouraged the audience, of senior lawyers and CSR professionals, to think big. While he supports and applauds the Legal Sustainability Alliance members in their annual carbon measurement and their efforts to bring down carbon emissions, he issued us with a challenge – that is that there is more that law firms can do to contribute to the wider sustainability issues that the whole of society faces. “Paper and travel are important secondary impacts of the legal profession, both of which need to be addressed BUT the true value to society of the profession is its huge knowledge to help us make the right decisions about issues like technology, privacy, land use and development, wellbeing and of course diversity.”
The M&S commitment to Plan A means that every single item sold in M&S stores worldwide has to have a ‘Plan A’ story to tell by 2020 – that means sustainability is being built into the supply chain at every stage and is to be regarded as business as normal, a baseline measure not an exception: no mean feat when M&S has 3 billion single items on sale each year to 32 million customers.
Sustainability is at the heart of the incoming President’s agenda for the Law Society underpinning and linking her other joint priorities of the Innovation and technology and diversity. The LSA offers a vital free resource to Law Society members, helping them respond to her call for them “to take a proactive approach to environmental sustainability”. The opportunities that technology provides to reduce our collective environmental impact are clear – based on analysis done by Google, a typical firm or organisation that migrates to cloud-based CRM, email and related systems could reduce its energy use (and therefore carbon footprint) by 68-87%.
All law firms whatever their size are invited to join the LSA and make use of the wealth of free resources on offer – including a free annual carbon footprinting tool that helps firms measure manage and reduce carbon emissions. Since its inception in 2007 LSA member firms have been responsible for a 15% reduction in average total emissions per capita an approximate saving of £140 per employee. As the Vice President said “sustainable business is good business and makes sense”.