All posts by rachel_eaton



Despite nearly 500 LGBT+ events being cancelled or postponed this year due to Covid-19, Pride Month remains as important as ever with its message of acceptance ringing no truer than now. At the same time, the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged the world on its mistreatment of the black community, highlighting that we still have a long way to go in achieving a fair and equal society. The movement has forced businesses around the world to look at their own history, behaviours and actions to reassess whether they truly implement diversity and inclusivity practices throughout their companies. One thing is for certain, this is not the time for D&I to take a back seat.

Fast Company, NBC and The Drum, to name just a few publications, have reported throughout the pandemic on companies cutting diversity and inclusion budgets, staff and support as they enter crisis mode.

Reports from the National Women’s Law Centre and Barnett Waddingham have highlighted that those who D&I measures are meant to protect and support have been the worst effected by furloughs and redundancies. So how and why has D&I been deemed ‘non-essential’ and the first to be cut from business plans?

Some have claimed that government measures have made it hard for companies to be held to account with the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suspending gender pay gap regulations this year for the first time since its introduction in 2017. Or perhaps companies are failing to see how crucial people are to their resilience?

Something businesses in the B Corp community already know to be true and is now becoming clearer for the wider corporate sector: thosewho make short term objectives and fail to place people at the heart of the decision, will suffer the consequences. Recent reports from McKinsey revealed that companies with the most gender-diverse executive teams were 21% more likely to have industry lead profitability, and companies with ethnically and culturally diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to outperform on profitability. The most telling statistic is that companies in the bottom quartile for both gender as well as ethnic and cultural diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability.

In times of crisis, companies that endorse workplace diversity and inclusion not only survive but can even thrive. Research from Great Place to Work has shown that companies with consistently inclusive workplaces thrived before, during, and after the Great Recession, earning a four times annualised return.

The business case for diversity and inclusion could not be any clearer, it has been proven time and time again that a diverse workforce leads to greater innovation, creativity and profitability.

For Gong Communications, encouraging truly diverse and inclusive workforces and cultures has been important to us throughout our 15 year history. A certified B-Corp since 2017, our core business is targeted at supporting clients who are focussed on positive impact for planet, people as well as profit.

We have had the pleasure of playing a part in the diversity and inclusion journey of the insurance sector, through our work with Lloyd’s of London and the Dive In Festival – the festival of diversity and inclusion within the insurance sector, now in its 6th year.  When Inclusion@Lloyd’s came to us in 2015, asking us to help in bringing to life the first sector-wide diversity and inclusion festival, we saw the opportunity to be part of something special.

Since that first year, the festival has grown exponentially from its origin in London and now takes place in over 60 cities and 30 countries world-wide, attracting more than 10,000 people. But it is not all about the numbers. Powerful personal stories at the Dive In festival have also made it easier to normalise discussions about issues such as gender equality, family care responsibilities and mental wellbeing at work.

It has prompted organisations to implement initiatives and policies designed to create a more inclusive workplace culture. Last year Lloyd’s issued its trans and non-binary inclusion guide, a 29-page document offering advice to people working within the insurance sector about how to foster a “stable emotional working environment” for trans and non-binary colleagues. Aviva revised its policy for trans people to become more inclusive, now allowing the parents of trans children time off to support the transition.

As a leading diversity communications PR agency in the UK, we’ve long understood that fostering diversity and inclusivity is not only the right thing to do, but should be at the heart of a company’s strategy and is the key to continued corporate resilience.



World Environment Day has prompted us here at Gong to reflect on the issue so many businesses are grappling with at the moment: How to get to Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions using science based methods as fast as we can? In December last year at COP25, alongside 499 other B Corps, Gong pledged to get to Net Zero by 2025 at the very latest. Spurred on by Covid and the imperative to Build Back Better, we are determined to do it this year.

Unlike the growing number of multinational corporations and manufacturing businesses who have pledged, it’s relatively easy for a small service business like ours to figure out our carbon footprint and make the necessary reductions. But there are ‘hidden’ emissions, even for us. We’ve learned for example, from fellow B Corp Wholegrain Digital, about the relative energy intensity of different web site constructions (if the internet was a country, it would be the world’s sixth biggest polluter). So we’ve committed to curb bad digital communications habits along with obvious things like reducing international travel, buying renewable energy and sourcing as much as we can from other Net Zero B Corps.

177 multinational companies, including Nestlé, Unilever and Vodafone signed up to the UN pledge to be Net Zero by 2050. That figure has continued to grow through 2020. Sustainability heads at businesses are working flat out to reduce their own emissions and track those of their suppliers (referred to as different ‘scopes’ 1,2 and 3) but many are facing up to the fact that they will struggle to change their current business practices enough to get to net zero in the time available. And this isn’t an arbitrary date. We have by best estimates, nine years left to act on carbon concentrations before we irreversibly head into warming that exceeds the ‘liveable’ 2°C target set in Paris.

As we have been thinking about this, we’ve started working with a new client which has given us the opportunity to delve further into the carbon removal movement. It’s been an eye opener which is why we want to share it. Human carbon emissions total 40 gigatonnes per year (Gt/y). Earth (forests, soil, oceans) can only absorb 20 Gt/y of this hence the concentration of greenhouse gases keeps increasing. So even though emissions have been lower during lockdown, CO2 concentrations are still rising.

Experts, including The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the UN IPCC are encouraging us to look at carbon dioxide removal (CDR) rather than offsetting. Sustainability expert John Grant explained that when you buy offsets, you are often funding a project that produces or uses energy more efficiently, but emissions still occur. It doesn’t reduce the already too high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientific removal and lock-up of CO2 now, for a minimum of 50 years, will give us time to shift to a less CO2 intensive world and mitigate climate change.

The WRI says ‘2020 could be the year Carbon Dioxide Removal takes off.” UN IPCC (2018) says: “All pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) of the order of 100–1000 Gt CO2 over the 21st century. CDR would be used to compensate for residual emissions and, in most cases, achieve net negative emissions to return global warming to 1.5°C following a peak.”

This week, another company, Climeworks announced that it had raised $76m to expand its operations to ‘suck’ CO2 out of the air and turn it into products such as gas for carbonating Coca-Cola. While this particular use of CO2 makes it back into the atmosphere, other Climeworks processes do store CO2 permanently. But we are encouraged by a different (and healthier) approach, espoused by our client that supports businesses whose core processes are carbon net negative. In other words, they use carbon dioxide in the manufacture of building materials such as ‘carbstone’ and biochar soil improvers – two sectors – construction and agriculture – that are big enough to be able to scale rapidly to really make a difference.

Craig Sams, one half of the pioneering duo behind the original fairtrade chocolate brand Green and  Black’s, set up biochar company (and B Corp) Carbon Gold. A former Chair of the Soil Association, Sams is an evangelist for the regenerative properties of biochar on soil.

And for anyone who needs the science, here’s a helpful video about CO2 mineralisation of waste materials from steel manufacture in the production of sustainable construction materials.

What’s exciting is that we can remove CO2 now by paying companies like these to scale faster by buying carbon removal certificates through the marketplace. We get to be net negative now, which means that Gong is no longer going to be part of the problem. Of course it still needs the global construction industry to use more of these products and for farmers and cities to use biochar instead of polluting fertilisers. But with the momentum from the Build Back Better movement and the European Green Deal stimulus, it suddenly feels like there is real hope that we can find solutions that are also going to build a new green economy and ecosystem of entrepreneurs.

And that’s good for everyone. Happy World Environment Day.



There is something about the sustainability pioneer John Elkington’s new book, Green Swans; The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalismthat brings joy as one scans the contents pages. The title unapologetically riffs off the idea of Black Swans – the extreme, the unknown, and very improbable events – described in a book of that name published just before the global financial crisis of 2008.

The twitch at the corners of the mouth when you read is less to do with the subject matter – though this is ultimately an inherently optimistic read – and more because of the fun that John has obviously had with the analogy. Halfway into the book, there’s a section called ‘New Pecking Orders’ – he’s really in his stride now – with sections called ‘Incubating Ugly Ducklings’ and ‘Exponential Migrations’.

All levity aside, Green Swansputs our current challenges into context by setting out the very serious ‘Black Swans’ that we currently face including: Plastic in the oceans, killer calories and climate change. Despite the complexity of the issues, it is not all bad news, mostly because the book is packed with John’s anecdotes and his clever aggregation and framing of ideas about how and where remedies are likely to appear.

The book draws from themes derived from the work carried out by Volans, the future-business consultancy which John co-founded, in its inquiry series: Tomorrow’s Capitalism. The Inquiry kicked off with a recall of the Triple Bottom Line mid-2018, the first ever ‘product recall’ of a management theory. In a blog on Harvard Business Review, John called for re-think and withdrew People, Profit, Planet, concluding it was longer fit for purpose. Together with his colleagues at Volans, he sought to reboot the concept identifying the ‘3Rs’ as its worthy successor: Resilience, Responsibility, and Regeneration are the vital characteristics, Volans argues, of the business systems of the future.

Despite the gravity of the issues, John manages to keep the text from getting too weighed down. He talks about how during his long career as an advisor to CEOs and embattled leaders, he has often used humour in Boardrooms as an unexpected tactic that gets people to drop their guard and focus on unpalatable truths.

The book is packed full of references that resonate reassuringly for businesses grappling with formulating their own response to the emergent future. And while the Covid-19 pandemic rages all around us, there is something strangely calming in thinking that this Black Swan event could end up giving flight to some very welcome and significant Green Swans.

As the book notes, “For the foreseeable future, this will be by far the biggest opportunity for adventure, growth, and evolution in the tightly coupled stories of humankind, capitalism, and our home planet, Earth.”

Green Swans, The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, was published on 9 April by Fast Company Press and is available to buy on Amazon or direct from the Volans website.



Africa-impact specialist, Kina Advisory has appointed Gong to support the growth of its brand internationally. Kina is best known for advising boards on key ESG issues affecting business and investment in Africa, which for those in the know, is the proving ground for ESG best practice. Building on decades of experience, Kina is repositioning its offering on a global footing.

Founder Rosalind Kainyah MBE is a lawyer by profession with extensive experience in government relations, political risk management, social investment and corporate and environmental law. She is also a regular on the conference circuit as an experienced moderator and Chair.



In April, we were delighted to be invited back to work with Invest in Africa following our initial efforts to help capture the challenges SMEs faced when working with large corporations in Ghana in this report: David & Goliath: Creating a level playing fled for SMEs In the intervening time IIA has grown from an initiative with offices in London and Ghana to become pan-African with a presence in Kenya, Senegal, Mauritania, Mozambique and Zambia.

The idea for Invest in Africa grew out of the desire of a multinational corporation to use its buying power as a force for good. Despite the positive economic impact and jobs it creates, IIA is a private sector-led initiative focused on growing local businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa, albeit with a mix of donors, many in the development finance sector.

Our brief includes supporting the rollout of IIA’s Covid-19 SME toolkit and advising on some new research that will be useful for stakeholders but we’re keeping the precise details under wraps until we are ready for the big reveal. Needless to say, it’s going to focus on supply chains and positive purchasing power.



In March, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial and advanced technology batteries,  Systems Sunlight, retained Gong on a corporate comms brief. Sunlight is part of The Olympia Group, one of the largest international conglomerates in Greece.

The company recently launched a revolutionary series of “smart batteries” called Li.ON FORCE which use advanced lithium technology. Li.ON FORCE batteries cover the increasing demands of the Material Handling and Logistics Industries, along with the diversity of applications of modern electrical Industrial Vehicles (eIV).

As well as state-of-the-art battery production facilities in Xanthi, Greece, North Carolina, USA and Verona, Italy, Sunlight has a recycling facility in Komotini, Greece which is Europe’s most advanced with a recycling capacity of 25,000 tons of used lead-acid batteries.

We are looking forward to supporting Sunlight’s continued growth as it plays its part in addressing the critical global challenge of energy storage and performance.



We were thrilled to be appointed by Granger Reis for two reasons: Human capital is a big theme for us at Gong and international boutique, Granger Reis has a global perspective on sectors that we operate in: Infrastructure, Real Estate, Construction and Mining being the main focus areas where we have track record.

The Granger Reis team have challenged us to capture and communicate the key insights and issues that drive their business to reflect their deep expertise. From diversity and inclusion to courageous leadership in times of exponential change, the issues couldn’t be more familiar or more prescient.



2020 got off to an inspiring start with an event from our new client, Volans, whose ‘Tomorrow’s Capitalism: The Inquiry’ on 10th January saw initial insights of 18 months’ research shared with an invited audience of business leaders, regulators and industry associations to explore what it means to step up as leaders in the 2020s: a period of exponential change. The inquiry launched in 2018 with John Elkington’s recall of the Triple Bottom Line. The rationale being that business and ‘sustainability’ as usual is no longer fit for purpose.

Hosted at Aviva’s conference suits in the City of London, the audience heard from Inquiry partners including The Body Shop, SEPA, Covestro, Unilever and Aviva as well as leading experts in related sectors such as supply chain and the future of food.

Volans identified three defining elements of the emerging corporate leadership agenda to help businesses become catalysts for systems change:

1: Collaborate to build ‘3R’ businesses: Businesses should be adopting the 3Rs framework: “Responsibility”, “Resilience” and “Regeneration”. These are the characteristics required to thrive in a challenging, complex commercial environment and they require significant innovation and self-disruption.

2: Change the conversation between business and finance: This is about much more than ESG scores and sustainability reporting: the task is to create deeper partnerships between corporations and investors to co-evolve a whole new approach to investment and finance that emphasises outcomes and ‘directionality’, not just growth.

3: Become a Political Activist: There is no apolitical path to a sustainable economy. Progressive corporate leaders are being called on to step forward and engage in the tricky business of influencing policy and public opinion.

Read more about Volans’ work and the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry here.



In January, we were called on to support Circle Gas, a start-up that is revolutionising energy access for clean cooking in Africa. Circle Gas was announcing the acquisition of proprietary technology from Tanzania’s KopaGas in a transaction worth USD 25 million. The deal was the largest pure private equity investment in the clean cooking technology sector to date.

In parallel, Alok Sharma, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was in Nairobi for an event focused on investing in tech innovation and since DfID was an early supporter, Circle Gas was naturally in the media spotlight.

Circle Gas is helping to address multiple SDGs at the same times as it provides a reliable and low-cost supply of LPG fuel for clean cooking to low-income households by using innovative smart metering and advanced distribution logistics. LPG displaces the use of harmful and dirty charcoal and kerosene in the home. This reduces respiratory problems for women and children while reducing the felling of trees that would otherwise be used for firewood or to make charcoal. About 900 million people, or 70% of the population of sub Saharan Africa have not yet transitioned to clean and modern cooking fuels.

Read more about it in this Reuters feature



As 2020 began, we were delighted to learn that we’d beaten off stiff competition to a contract from the IFC (International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group), to act as strategic communications advisor for a high profile infrastructure project in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the second time we have worked with the IFC on strategic comms for an infrastructure brief in the region.

The IFC’s web site sets out its mission: A strong and engaged private sector is indispensable to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. That’s where IFC comes in—we have more than 60 years of experience in unlocking private investment, creating markets and opportunities where they’re needed most. Since 1956, IFC has leveraged $2.6 billion in capital to deliver more than $285 billion in financing for businesses in developing countries.