By Graeme Millar, JT Group chief executive, and Tom Noel, director of corporate affairs and sustainability
WHEN we first sat down to consider how we could best play our part in helping Jersey achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, we realised that we were already doing quite a lot. However, like most organisations, we still had a way to go.
It was important to us that we thought big and created central ambitions to work towards but also that we were humble enough to understand that to reach them would not only take time but would require the hearts and minds of our people, our community and the support of sustainability experts, to help us on our way.
Our ten-year strategy
While it’s important for all businesses to show they are ‘doing their bit’ for the environment, we felt that as a business with over 130 years of history and connections with our customers and islands, we needed more than that. We embarked on a year-long journey to discuss, agree and debate our ten-year strategy. For us, the goal was for a strategy that not only addressed the increasing environmental and social pressures of our time but one which also made a real and lasting difference within our communities.
The result is our strategy which allows flexibility for the future and sets out two main ambitions centred around planet and people.
On the planet front, we firstly worked with The Carbon Trust to benchmark and baseline our carbon emissions. In order to move forward, you need to understand where you are now. This helped us to understand not only our current usage but also where we could make bigger and more meaningful changes to the way we work and the impact it has.
We were aware that electricity usage and cooling refrigerants were the primary drivers of Scope 1 and 2 Carbon emissions and that is why they had to be a key focus for reduction for JT within our strategy. Power consumption and energy efficiencies cover everything we do, from our high-tech Data Centres to our Fixed and Mobile Networks, so it was also important for us to look at more renewable sources of energy and, in turn, encourage and help our customers do the same.
We know that ambitions of this scale will not be achieved overnight but every step forward is a step better.
Travel and emissions
As a global business, the reduction of travel is another of the more obvious commitments to make. While Covid-19 has all but halted local and international travel, we have already started working with our teams to reduce the effects that commuting will have when our people return to the office, including subsidy schemes for more sustainable modes of transport and switching our engineering fleet to electric in the coming years.
Playing our part means our goal will be to eliminate all but essential overseas business travel. To reduce the impact of international trips still further, we are supporting the gold-standard verified carbon-offset scheme, Rwanda Borehole Clean Drinking Water project.
Closer to home, our partners at EVie have been hugely successful in launching their electric bikes and vehicles. We helped by providing free SIM cards to each vehicle, which allows them to be tracked and monitored when they are out on Jersey’s roads and cycle paths. And we are encouraging our own people to take up more sustainable methods of transport.
We’ve made a number of other small changes across the business in our drive to champion a circular business model – for example, keeping waste to a minimum. Some of these steps are easy to adopt for any business, such as reducing single-use plastic in our retail stores, using recyclable packaging and selling discounted refurbished phones to our people. Others like repurposing and committing to reuse large decommissions electrical items and equipment will take us time to implement. We know we have still got a way to go, but every positive initiative is celebrated.
Our people goals are just as important and we take our community role and responsibility very seriously.
Our strategy outlines JT’s focus on the community and our commitment to supporting local charities, vulnerable groups and our pride in championing a digital education and online security for all. Last year we helped to raise over £30,000 for Macmillan Jersey and we aim to do the same this year.
Workforce and community diversity and inclusion is also a key focus for us. We want both our business and our islands to be a place where everyone feels valued and respected and can be their very best.
JT was Jersey’s first large-scale commercial organisation to become a Living Wage Employer, ensuring that all its employees in the Channel Islands and around the globe are paid a fair wage for their work. Since then, many others have followed and we hope many more will.
We also feel strongly about keeping our people safe and secure so our strategy includes commitments around cyber security support and investing in world-class security products and services.
Our commitment to do what we can as a business to provide a sustainable future extends throughout our organisation from our boardroom to our frontline people. All of our business decisions will have sustainability measures that have to be met before they are given approval by the board. Everything will be reviewed to ensure they measure up to our vision to have a positive impact on enabling our commitments to our planet and our people. We are also making sure that sustainability is embedded into JT’s culture so that, collectively, we remain on target for our ten-year plan, as it becomes part of our business DNA.
What that provides us with then is a team of people in our business who fully embrace the principles of sustainability and really want to make a difference for our future and the future of generations to come.