Nancy Hobhouse is taking over a newly created role at Hermes, one of UK’s leading home delivery companies, as Head of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) to drive the business’s environmental, social, governance agenda. She spoke to The Logistics Point about why this is important and what she hopes to achieve in her new job.
Watch the full video interview below.
Why are organisations in the sector increasingly focussing on climate change?
There is no doubt that climate change is becoming a household conversation and is broadly understood to be one of the most pressing issues for humanity. I think what’s important is to talk about the consequences of this change and to gain an insightful understanding of it. Companies need to understand the context and how to operate responsibly.
All organisations are facing more pressure to manage ESG and that is being driven by increased legislation, customer requirements, current requirements and the management of risk. Other considerations are the need to manage any increase in revenue expenditure to make any necessary changes and also any potential business continuity risks. And the stakes are high – if you are not dealing with climate change, then this could become an issue in the next five years.
Is ESG only something that large organisations with considerable budget can address?
No, absolutely not. I think ESG is not just a nice-to-do anymore, it is absolutely part of running any sort of business. Of course, the cost of that is an element but also there is an opportunity to gain real business benefits. For example, increased client and employee retention can result from ensuring that your company is seen to be fair. Some clients may tap into what you are doing to support their climate targets. There may also be resulting savings – for example, as we are starting to see the government put in more and more taxation on high polluting fuels like diesel and petrol, there are significant financial as well as environmental benefits of looking at alternative fuels. In fact, the cost to pollute is only going to increase.
As a home delivery company we are closely aligned with our customers in the retail sector and many of them, as part of the British Retail Consortium, have made a commitment to be net zero in their own operations by 2030 and then net zero, including the suppliers, by 2040. So, in simple terms we need to be part of this if we want to continue to be in business.
There is good news for small businesses despite this seeming like a mammoth task. If you are just starting out on the ESG journey there is low hanging fruit that doesn’t cost a lot but will start bringing you returns. Also many larger businesses have already paved the way with great innovations and some of these have developed and are market ready for you to implement.
You have just started your role at Hermes, what are your plans?
I’m really excited to be here. My first job is to look to get a new strategy in place to cover the whole of the business. What we would really like to do too is increase the visibility of what we’re already doing. We already do some really great stuff in this space through the use of alternative fuels and electric vehicles but we don’t shout about it enough.
We also want to go beyond what we’re already doing, so watch this space! I have never joined a business and had so many people call me up and say they are really excited I am heading this up. So, as a business, we’re going to pull this together, increase the visibility of what we’re already doing, and then put in a lot of additional stuff. On top of that, we are looking at making sure we deliver a green product so our customers can choose to offer that to their clients. ✷