All posts by rachel_eaton

The retrofit revolution

The UK’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050 means we will all have to change some aspects of our lives for good. Whether it is giving up petrol and diesel cars, switching to renewable energy or making changes to our homes and offices, everyone will need to do their bit.

ELIMINATING EMISSIONS BY 2050

The government’s long-awaited net zero strategy sets out how the UK plans to halve emissions in little over a decade and eliminate them by 2050. Introducing the strategy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims “the United Kingdom is not afraid to lead the charge towards global net zero because history has never been made by those who sit at the back of the class hoping not to be called on.”

Leading this charge will involve decarbonising our power sector by 2035, phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and decarbonising the way we heat and power our homes.

The UK has around 30 million buildings, including some of the oldest building stock in Europe, with 20 per cent of homes built before 1919. They are responsible for 17 per cent of our national emissions. Retrofitting them with better insulation, low-carbon heat and clean power sources is an essential part of the country’s journey to net zero.

Newly constructed buildings are far more energy efficient, but 80 per cent of the UK’s 2050 building stock already exists, hence the need for some large-scale retrofitting. A national retrofit programme has the potential to reduce household energy bills by up to £430 a year and create 500,000 green jobs.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a “retrofit revolution” in the capital to upgrade ageing homes so that social housing landlords can cut carbon emissions and improve the cold, damp housing stock currently on offer.

He hopes the move will also help tackle growing fuel poverty. In London 11.4 per cent of households are fuel poor, in joint place with the West Midlands. Only the North West is worse, with 12.1 per cent of households affected by fuel poverty, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

HOW CAN THE UK REACH ITS RETROFITTING GOALS?

So what does retrofitting actually involve? Modifications to existing buildings to make them more energy efficient can range from small additions to big building projects. From switching to energy-saving lightbulbs to cavity wall insulation, from installing smart meters to putting solar panels on the roof, the possibilities are endless.

One of the government’s central policies is to phase out natural gas boilers in homes and buildings by 2035 at the latest. It plans to support 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028, driving down the cost so that they are on a par with traditional gas boilers.

But who is going to carry out all this work? A report by the Green Finance Institute and Bankers for Net Zero, Tooling Up the Green Homes Industry, estimated that to reach net zero by 2050, an estimated 29 million existing homes will need to be retrofitted. That means a million homes a year, every year until 2050, will have to be modified.

That is an enormous task. The report revealed that the majority of companies which carry out this type of work are small and medium-sized businesses. The UK retrofit industry is relatively fragmented compared with some European countries and it is hard to find retrofit managers who can create end-to-end propositions for clients.

One organisation hoping to change this is not-for-profit cooperative RetrofitWorks. Its members include contractors, tradespeople and community groups. The cooperative offers homeowners a Retrofit Coordinator who assesses their house, produces a plan to make it more energy efficient, then works with contractors from the cooperative to oversee the process.

But it is not just housing stock that needs some TLC. Non-domestic building stock currently represents 23 per cent of UK built environment emissions, most of which is caused by fossil fuel heating systems. Heat pumps form a big part of the solution here. The UK Green Building Council’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap advises that 70 per cent of all non-domestic buildings should have heat pump systems by 2045 to reach net zero goals.

THERE’S HOPE FOR THE UK’S BUILDING STOCK

The good news is that retrofit solutions already exist. Organisations such as LETI, a network for built environment professionals in London, have published a Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide. Then there is the EnerPHit standard, which certifies retrofits to the high level required by the Passive House Standard. The Association for Environment Conscious Building also has a Retrofit Standard.

We already have the knowhow, the tools and the certification systems to retrofit the UK’s building stock. What we lack is a clear national retrofit strategy from the government that sets out long-term funding and political commitment to do this. The construction industry and consumers need to know that retrofitting is not just the latest trend, soon to be forgotten: it is the key to unlocking our ability to reach net zero by 2050.

 

For more news updates and insights around the global energy transition from Gong Communications, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter at @gongcomms.

B Corp’s Wonder Women

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we recognise the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world. The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BreaktheBias, this campaign calls for solidarity against gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping. In the workplace this includes the need for gender parity, equal pay, inclusive work practices, and education opportunities.  

Inclusivity is one of the key principles in the B Corp movement, centred around the idea that a business’s impact should focus on the planet and community benefit and not only shareholder profit. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to showcase some of the B Corp movement’s most inspiring certified founders using business as a force for good. 

KRESSE WESLING CBE 

Kresse Wesling, an award-winning environmental entrepreneur and Young Global Leader, is the Co-founder of apparel brand Elvis & Kresse. After a chance encounter with the London Fire Brigade in 2005, Elvis & Kresse was launched to use London’s decommissioned firehoses that could not be repaired.  

Elvis & Kresse donated 50 per cent of the profit from its first line to the Fire Fighters Charity and now donates 50 per cent of its profits to various charities related to waste management. It collects from 12 different waste streams and has several charitable partnerships, including a five-year partnership with the Burberry Foundation. Their dedication and passion for sustainability has garnered both public attention and a high B Impact score of 147.6 points, which is 67.6 points higher than what is needed to qualify for B Corp Certification. 

JO-ANNE CHIDLEY

Jo-Anne Chidley, a sustainability advocate, is the Co-founder of Beauty Kitchen UK. She has won a variety of industry awards, including the ‘Who’s Who in Natural Beauty’ and business award, ‘Scale Up Entrepreneur of the Year’. Her goal behind the creation of Beauty Kitchen UK was to be a pioneer in sustainable beauty, creating products that are effective but also work in harmony with the natural environment.  

She inspects everything, including the efficacy of the products, where ingredients are sourced, and ensures that all packaging is sustainable. The product line includes compostable pouches, FSC approved cardboard, vegetable inks, and pre-cycled containers that can be returned for reuse. Every aspect of the business process is transparent, ensuring that stakeholders can see the hard work and care that goes into the product line. This has contributed to the business’ overall B Impact Score of 139.8 points. 

PIP MURRAY

Pip Murray is the Founder of Pip & Nut, the fastest growing Nut Butter brand in the UK, after realising that current products on the market were lacking a healthier and more playful brand alternative. Although nut butter was not new to the market, Pip’s creative spin was the differentiator needed to launch a successful product. Pip & Nut is now stocked in over 7,000 stores across the UK, including Tesco, Morrison’s, ASDA and Holland & Barrett.  

Pip & Nut is committed to leaving a positive environmental and social impact, sourcing ethical chocolate from Colombia  and supporting community initiatives in the country. It has also committed to transitioning to net zero by 2023 and has prohibited the use of palm oil in its production process to protect rainforests. Based on their B impact assessment, Pip & Nut earned an overall score of 81.2 points which is almost double the median score for ordinary businesses who complete the assessment. 

AMELIA HARVEY

Amelia Harvey is Co-founder of The Collective Dairy UK. Amelia had past success in the FMCG sector before joining The Collective team. She started her career at Kellogg’s and L’Oréal before a segue into the start-up sector with a sales director role at Gü Puds. Amelia loved working in a high-growth business and felt ready to start something new. So, when she met Angus Allan and Ofer Shenhay, creators of The Collective Dairy New Zealand, she knew this was the perfect product to bring to the UK market.  

The Collective’s aim is to create great tasting yoghurt and leave a positive impact on the environment. Its climate friendly initiatives include the creation of the UK’s first carbon neutral dairy yoghurt, and it has committed to a carbon neutral production process by 2025.  

MICHAL ALTER

Michal Alter is the Founder of Visit.org, a platform created for social impact travel experiences that allows users to discover, support and interact with organisations that leave a positive impact on their environment, both virtually and in-person. 

As one of the first female pilot cadets in the Israeli Air Force, a Computer Science Engineer and the Director of Refugee Affairs at the City Government in Tel Aviv, Michal was able to use her skills in technology and social development. This subsequently led to her idea to combine the two and create an online platform that helps HR, CSR, and D&I teams in enterprise companies engage their employees.  

CAROLINA MIRANDA

Carolina Miranda is the Founder and CEO of Cultivating Capital, a company that helps small businesses implement sustainable business practices. As a B Corp consultant, she specialises in helping companies align their business operations with their values by integrating social and environmental responsibility into business processes. She has helped organisations such as Pixar, Bayer, the City of Emeryville and the California Department of Transportation develop sustainable action plans, while also leading training sessions and providing coaching and mentoring services. 

She served on the executive committee for the B Corp Women CEOs ‘We the Change’ movement and supports B local activities in the San Francisco Bay area. She was awarded the 2020 Community Builders award from B Lab for her contributions to the community.  

BRIANNE WEST

Brianne West is the Founder and CEO of Ethqiue, a regenerative beauty and lifestyle brand. In 2020 she was named one of the ‘One Young World’s Entrepreneur’ of the year, and in 2019 the Ernst & Young ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’. 

The concept behind Ethique was to create a product that would help eliminate plastic from the global beauty industry, proving that beauty brands can be environmentally proactive while being financially sustainable. Ethique is described as a regenerative brand because its purpose is to give back more than it extracts. All the products are vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil-free and are wrapped in compostable packaging.  

ANITA RODDICK

Dame Anita Lucia Roddick DBE was a British businesswoman, human rights activist, and environmental campaigner. Most recognised as the Founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company that sells natural beauty products which shaped ethical consumerism, Anita built the brand on empowering women and integrated this purpose into each business decision.  

The Body Shop’s mission is to make a positive difference in people’s lives by retailing good-quality products that use natural ingredients. Its most recent campaign, “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics”, was a collaboration with Dove, PETA, CFI, and over 500 leading animal protection organisations. Its aim was to campaign for urgent action against animal testing requirements in Europe, highlighting its ongoing commitment to better business.  

This month at Gong, we will continue to reflect on gender bias in the workplace and the role of businesses in a changing world – because we can use business as a change for good. We are committed as a B Corp to keep striving for an inclusive, equitable business that keeps people, community, and planet at its centre. Follow our B Corp Month campaign and International Women’s Day celebration on our social media channels: 

Twitter: @GongComms 

Instagram: @gongcomms 

While there is so much to celebrate this month, we want to acknowledge the deeply saddening and difficult crisis in Ukraine and neighbouring territories. Refugee Support, who we work with on a pro-bono basis to publicise their work supporting refugees across Europe and the UK, are working to help the humanitarian emergency facing the people of Ukraine. You can help them to support those fleeing Ukraine via the Just Giving page below. By donating you are also supporting the border communities that are receiving the people who have fled, as all the funds will be spent locally: 

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RefugeeSupportUkraine 

Advice for Graduates wishing to pursue a career in PR

The good news is that according to the IDS (Income Data Services) there is an eight per cent increase in the number of graduate roles being advertised.  The tide is definitely turning and we are certainly feeling it here at Gong. Our numbers have more than doubled in less than a year.  A third of our new starters were graduates. Our international client base and the expansion of Gong Creative has allowed us to stretch upwards and outwards.

However, there are still 2.49 million unemployed people in the UK and last year one in 10 graduates were unemployed six months after graduating.  We have a way to go yet.  CVs and covering letters have never been more important.

We have seen a lot of CVs here at Gong. Here are my top five tips to help you write a standout application and make a lasting impression:

1. Research: Dig deep into agency websites and thoroughly research the company you wish to approach.  If you can drop in a subtle one liner, something you’ve noticed, or are interested in, or impressive company stats and achievements, this will show you have done your homework and impress potential employers.

2. Covering letter: This should detail a little about you, why we should employ you and what attracted you to us. Keep it brief, informative and relevant. 

3. CV’s: They should be no more than two pages. Make sure the layout is clear and sectioned off neatly, so that if someone is scanning through it, they can find information fast.

4. Internships: Do as many as you can. You cannot beat office experience.  Internships have become an elongated  ‘interview process’. They are a fantastic way for you to gain experience and re-confirm your career path.  As an employer, it gives us the chance to see how you work and fit in, so make the most of it, be keen and get stuck in.

5. Stay in touch: Link up with everyone and stay in touch via the usual social media networks. Generate a strong presence out there, keep it up to date, but be mindful of your output.

These may sound painfully obvious, but very rarely are such simple guidelines followed.  If you are interested in joining the team, I would be delighted to hear from you.  Gong continues to grow both in London and internationally, particularly East Africa and the US.  We have a wonderfully diverse culture in our London office alone: 50 per cent of our employees are non-Brits and between us we have a huge array of skills, languages, experience and creativity to bring to the table.

For more information please go to our ‘about us’ page and get in touch at careers@thewilful.com.

Sarah Simms

Read on for a Q&A with Sarah Simms who joined Gong in 2009 to lead its new financial services arm, including emerging markets private equity manager client, Actis. She left her full time role with Gong in 2014, having grown the FS stream from one client account to over a dozen. She now works in Somerset in the education sector, but has stayed in close contact, freelancing with Gong at various points over the years.

 

How did we first meet you?

I had just come back from a six-month sabbatical, travelling around India and south east Asia. Having previously worked for five years in financial PR, I was eager to return to agency life.  Gong was one of the agencies that a recruitment agent highlighted for me as matching my key criteria for a new role.

What was it about Gong that appealed?

At the time, I was having lots of discussions with agencies of various sizes and ambitions, so had the benefit of being able to contextualise and compare Gong to other opportunities in the market. Gong’s vision for growth and its clear sense of identity really stood out to me. In the role I was being recruited for, there was lots of responsibility to stretch and prove myself, while also being part of a very impressive wider team.

What were your most memorable experiences of Gong?

Certainly, the speed of working at high professional standards was a constant from the start. But the genuine warmth of feeling we experienced with our clients – particularly the empea, AVCA and Emerging Capital Partners leaders – stays firmly in my memory. It was a great joy to be trusted advisors to such change-making teams, that were (and continue to be) making such a positive impact on an international stage.

I was also working at Gong when we launched Gong Kenya, building on our expertise and connections in east Africa. It was a (well researched) gamble at the time but one that most certainly paid off, with repeat clients including DFIs, the British Council and many professional services companies on the roster.

What did you bring to the business over and above client service?

I have always enjoyed the opportunity to nurture junior members of the account teams and relished the responsibility of guiding them in their professional development. Team collaboration and daily learning is one of the great benefits of agency life that is not often spoken about, but ought to be. Daily feedback on work and the opportunity to soundboard ideas are such a huge benefit to personal growth.  And of course, it works both ways, with senior leaders getting ideas from ambitious juniors too.

Did you travel for work?

Yes, regularly – to Washington, but also to Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Tunisia for client work, very often to cover comms at industry events. It was a great honour to be able to hear cutting-edge issues discussed by industry experts, first-hand. And to play a part in shaping the important messages that came out of those events on an international stage.

Travelling for corporate events was also a great lesson in thinking on your feet. As with all event management, it involves plenty of last-minute plan changes and combined with the logistical restrictions in some of the locations that we worked in, called for a fair amount of lateral problem solving.

What advice would you offer to others starting in the PR industry?

Be a sponge! Being a PR professional provides access to conversations that would otherwise be happening behind closed doors. To do the job well, it requires a curiosity and appetite for learning that will broaden your horizons and expand your mind set. You will learn to question what you hear and what you read, which is so essential with the news agenda today. Be humble and learn from your seniors – but don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or idea (particularly if you can back it up with evidence). A successful professional environment such as Gong’s will act as a meritocracy and applaud you.

Did working at Gong help crystallise what you wanted to achieve in your career?

It helped me to identify how important a clear business identity and strategy is, not only in terms of financial success, but crucially, for recruitment and HR. Gong’s strong sense of purpose (notably as a B Corp) focuses all of its employees towards a common goal, which engenders a sense of pride in the work done, too. Everyone feels a crucial part of the team (as they are!). This is an integral factor in the education sector too, so it’s certainly something that I’ve brought with me into the next chapter of my career.

Other memorable experiences?

Most of Gong’s Christmas parties were a tour de force – often in unusual locations (once, we ate sitting on hay bales, another time we watched cabaret in a big tent, another time we were at Soho House), but always full of fun and laughter that will always stay with me. I had some great nights out with colleagues at Gong. I should probably also mention that founder Narda Shirley played a huge part in setting me up with my now husband, who was the brother of a good friend and business partner of hers. An unusual, but effective way of cementing an already extremely strong company loyalty from me – it’s been a pleasure to stay in touch with Gong over the years, witnessing it go from strength to strength more recently with its exciting merger with Cherish PR.

 

Sarah Simms is Director of Marketing and Development at Sidcot School, an independent day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 3-18, which encourages children to make a difference in the world through teaching them to live their lives adventurously, to question and to take action.

AFRICA NET ZERO: SIGGI HUEGEMANN AND DR INNOCENT UWUIJAREN ON AFRICAN HYDROGEN

“One cannot decarbonise the world without hydrogen. And one cannot decarbonise Europe without African hydrogen […]. Africa will automatically play a very strong role [in decarbonising the world] because of the sheer potential, there is no way around it. And what is really needed now is close political cooperation and willingness, to allow the financial markets to invest in those regions of the world.”

In the latest episode of our Africa Net Zero series, we were delighted to sit down with two guests: Siggi Huegemann and Dr Innocent Uwuijaren from the African Hydrogen Partnership. We learned more about the African hydrogen journey so far and discussed what the future might hold as the continent becomes one of the world’s major producers.

Thank you, Innocent and Siegfried, for sharing your insights with us!

AFRICA NET ZERO: SIGGI HUEGEMANN AND DR INNOCENT UWUIJAREN ON AFRICAN HYDROGEN

Announcing the launch of Wilful

Across the globe we are witnessing an unprecedented push to find solutions to the climate emergency and more sustainable ways of living. Awards such as the recent Earthshot Prize provide a glimpse at some of the ingenious ideas worldwide which will help tackle climate change.

Through our merger with CherishPR, announced on October 19th, we have created Wilful, a new firm that works at the intersection of tech innovation and sustainability. We asked the team what most excited them about Wilful, and this is what they had to say:

Wilful quotes

Wilful Press Release

WILFUL AGENCY LAUNCHES WITH CLIMATE INNOVATION FOCUS

Communications taskforce to support low carbon, regenerative economy

19 October 2021, London

Wilful is a new agency that works at the intersection of tech innovation and sustainability to help clients amplify and scale solutions to the climate emergency.

The agency is built on the merger of its founding taskforce members, Cherish and Gong Communications. The agency works internationally from its London HQ with established partner networks in Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa. Digital agency Loud and start-up specialist Little Bear join brand design agency Made With and Gong Creative in the launch taskforce line-up with the additional sustainability expertise of author and brand strategist, John Grant. Wilful’s Chair is Mike Rowe, founder of digital agency group 1000Heads.

The agency launch co-incides with an unprecedented global push to find solutions to the climate emergency and more sustainable ways of living. Investment capital is being funneled to fund climate innovation across all sectors with sustainable food and mobility overtaking renewable energy.
In the first half of 2021:

  • Private equity firms have raised more than $180 billion of climate finance
  • VC funding for climate tech topped $16bn
  • COP26 host Boris Johnson is redoubling efforts to secure £100bn a year in climate funding for developing countries.

 

And in October, the EU launched its first green bond, the world’s largest to date, raising €12bn to finance member nations’ environmental initiatives.

Wilful co-founders Rebecca Oatley and Narda Shirley navigated the last period of rapid innovation and disruption together in the early 2000s at PR agency Gnash, when the internet inspired a generation of entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo. Wilful is their new joint venture, drawing on their extensive combined experience working principally in digital disruption, finance, development and sustainability.

Commenting on the market, Rebecca noted, “We are in another phase of rapid technology innovation with capital chasing game changing ideas and visionary entrepreneurs. This time, the stakes are much higher, we need to help the most promising innovations to find their audiences to successfully make the leap to a sustainable low carbon future.”

Wilful Co-Founder, Narda Shirley added, “Organisations that are gearing up for the transition to a low carbon future need a communications partner that can keep pace with the speed of change and the ability to react quickly to opportunities without compromising on the quality of the advice. Reassuringly, we are seeing plenty of brilliant innovations out there already, from big corporates as well as from start-ups. The challenge now is to help the best ones get to scale, which is where we believe communications has a key role to play.”

Some of Wilful’s recent work includes support for carbon removal marketplace, Puro.earth, seaweed bio-refinery and industry catalyser Oceanium, and Unreasonable Group, building community between entrepreneurs, investors and institutions to solve pressing global problems.

ABOUT WILFUL
Wilful is a new kind of communications agency that works at the intersection of innovation and sustainability to amplify the ideas solving the world’s biggest problems. The Wilful team is on a mission to help clients in the transition to a low carbon, regenerative economy.

Wilful’s task force approach blends disciplines to deliver an agile and adaptable client service drawing on the expertise of two well established agencies with a complementary focus: Cherish with its track record of working with mass market digital disruptors and Gong with its focus on corporate and B2B, often in sustainable development.

Headquartered in London, Wilful has a global network of partners: in Africa it is anchored by Gong’s business in Kenya and in Europe and the US it is represented by Over There, the group of independent agencies that Cherish co-founded.

Contact:
Jo Hooke: Jo.Hooke@thewilful.com
Richa Kundnani: Richa.Kundnani@thewilful.com

GREENWISHING OR GREENWASHING? CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

By Hannah Hughes, Senior Account Director

The Race to Zero is on and with it, a global push to agree corporate financial reporting and transparency rules.  With more companies focused on declaring how their business plans are consistent with climate goals, the challenge now becomes how to see through the greenwashing – how to spot it, and how to stop it.

What is greenwashing, and what isn’t?

Greenwashing is defined as “the process of conveying the false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound”. In the corporate world, this often translates as embellishing business commitments to reaching net zero, with no credible action behind it. Something that alternative milk maker Oatly found out the hard way, when it was targeted by a short seller for overstating its ESG credentials.

The pursuit of net zero and corporate commitments to reduce carbon emissions is still relatively nascent. That means there is an absence of clear and universally adopted reporting guidelines. Work is well underway to improve this (organisations like CDP currently provide the gold standard for the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts), but in the meantime there is too much free rein for interpretation. Or more accurately, misinterpretation.

In a recent journalist briefing, our client Volans, the think tank and advisory firm at the cutting edge of sustainability, opined that while there is certainly no place for greenwashing within business – it is important that ambitious and optimistic targets are recognised and supported. These targets have a part to play in moving the sustainability agenda forward as long as the intentions behind this ‘greenwishing’ are earnest. “Businesses do need to make big, bold claims about going green,” CEO Louise Kjellerup Roper says, “in order to keep up with what is expected of them.” These targets ensure business leaders have to focus on coming up with a plan of action, and while few have all the answers they need to achieve these goals right now, open discussion and identifying challenges are key to make meaningful change at the scale and speed required.

Language analysis

As climate commitments become more widely reported, so too does analysis of the language used to detail them. Claims of being ‘net zero’ are currently under scrutiny by journalists like Jess Shankleman and Akshat Rathi at Bloomberg Green who ask: is it right for businesses that buy carbon offsets to claim ‘net zero’ or should they be called ‘carbon neutral’ or even ‘carbon responsible’ instead? The article goes so far as to state that if “companies really want to cancel out emissions with offsets, they would have to purchase more expensive carbon-removal credits that actually draw down greenhouse gases. Only when companies have achieved all the reductions they possibly can, and balanced the rest with carbon removals, would they achieve ‘carbon-neutrality’ or reach ‘net zero’.”.

The article points to a more deep-rooted problem of clarity in language. Besides false claims, vague wording and use of the passive voice is a strong indicator of lack of action. Phrases like “we are”, “we will” and “we have” are far more encouraging to see than “we believe” and “we expect”. In the table below, we’ve looked at the nuanced changes in language that reflect responsible and accurate communications around climate change commitments.

Looking past the language

The clearest way to identify if a company is greenwashing is to look beyond the language and understand what actions it is taking. BlackRock, for example, notable for CEO Larry Fink’s bold assertions that stakeholder capitalism must prevail, has, in the past, been picked up for not acting in line with his statements. We are now starting to see those words put into action in voting against 255 board directors that failed to act on climate issues.

Louise suggests looking at a company’s lobbying history. Companies that are really committed to putting their words into action are political activists, she notes. That means actively lobbying government and regulators for change and putting themselves forward as part of the solution. Not just getting in the way of progress and lobbying against. That is what the banks involved in Bankers for Net Zero, like Tide, Handelsbanken and Triodos, do. Rather than take the easy option of saying “no” to changes they don’t want to see, they are stepping up to be part of the positive change and ultimately, the solution.

Next steps

As a company focused on helping our clients communicate their positive impact, the correct use of language around climate commitments is high on our agenda. The drive towards greater responsibility and a tighter interpretation of terms will ultimately expel greenwashing and promote a better future for us all.

Let’s hope such scrutiny effects change fast enough to make a lasting difference to our planet. Until then, for our part, we will continue advising clients on responsible use of language and claims around climate and net zero.

A new language of commitment to climate change

Gong tapped for Danone and B Lab Employee Engagement brief

The first free eLearning tool for the B Corporation (B Corp) community has officially launched on the B Corp Way 

This resource can be used by companies which are either already certified as B Corps or are in the process of becoming one. Certified B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.  

The eLearning tool began life as a bespoke course for Danone, one of the largest multinational corporations to commit to B Corp certification. Created by Gong Communications, in collaboration with Danone and B Lab, it can now be purpose built for any B Corp to build awareness and understanding among employees.  

For Danone, the tool has proved critical in making sure its 100,000 employees understand the company’s B Corp ambition and get behind it, whatever role they might play in the business.  

Danone has been partnering with B Lab – the non-profit organisation accrediting B Corp certification – since 2015 to help define a B Corp process suitable for publicly listed multinationals.  

Alexandra Heaven, Global B Corp Manager at Danone, who led the project, outlines the aim of the programme: “The B Corp movement is about using business as a force for good. It informs choices we make every day at a corporate and an individual level. We are helping 100,000 people at Danone, who are either already in a certified subsidiary, or on the way to certification, to understand how and why the movement is relevant to them. Gong helped us to develop a really comprehensive internal engagement tool – an e-learning programme – that allowed us to educate all our employees on our B Corp mission, regardless of position or how far through their B Corp journey the company is. Gong also helped us to create an internal comms toolkit to support our subsidiaries in promoting the programme to their employees. Since launching six months ago, we have had over 1,500 employees voluntarily complete the course. This course has proved invaluable in getting employees on board and committed to the B Corp movement.”   

Katie Hill, B Lab Europe CEO, added: “We first selected Gong for this brief because everyone there was excited by the challenge of building accessible and entertaining content. This product will work consistently for people from different companies, cultures and languages who may not have been in the front line of certification, but who are crucial to our ability to bring about real lasting impact. Having gone through the certification process themselves, Gong can relate to the opportunity for companies large and small to embed the B Corp movement into company culture. We are delighted with the results and are sure it will be an invaluable tool for existing and aspiring B Corp employees.”  

The initial four ‘core’ modules are designed to be accessible to all organisations, regardless of size and business model, and are currently available in English, French, Spanish (EU) and Spanish (LatAM).  

  • Module 1: B Introduced – What is the B Corp movement and why is it so relevant now? 
  • Module 2: B Certified – What is involved in B Corp certification? 
  • Module 3: B Inspired – Stories from across the B Corp community 
  • Module 4: B Part of the Movement – How you can be an active member of the B Corp movement and what resources are available to you? 


The additional two bespoke modules can be tailored by Gong to reflect any company’s needs and ambitions.  
 

  • Module 5: B Corp for [Company name] – How your company vision and values align with your B Corp mission  
  • Module 6: B Corp at [Company name] – How your employees can actively engage in B Corp activities in their day-to-day roles 

Hannah Hughes, project lead at Gong, which is a B Corp itself, said: “There is a great sense of pride and purpose that comes from working for a B Corp. We are trying to capture and convey that in this project, over and above the clear vision that already shapes B Lab and Danone’s reputation so positively. We are thrilled to have been trusted with such an important task and are looking forward to working with B Corps and future B Corps to further the movement.” 

For further information about the e-learning course, please visit: https://gongcommunications.com/about/b-corp-elearning-platform/  

Zambia Forward

By Vinesh Parmar, in Lusaka

Amongst the economic malaise of the last few years, it seemed as though the Zambian flag had been flying at half-mast. In contrast, the fish eagle soared high above a crowded Hero’s Stadium in the capital Lusaka as newly elected president Hakainde Hichilema was sworn in.

Attendees at the presidential inauguration had packed wings of the venue by 7am. Seems like Zambians can be on time, especially for moments of this magnitude. Again demonstrated ahead of the general election, some voters turned up at polling stations five hours before they opened.

It was those early signs that had the nation feeling that we were on the cusp of change. Voter turnout was at historic highs, as Zambians turned up with camping chairs in anticipation of long queues. The will of the people would be delivered at the ballot box, a triumph and protection of a democracy the country was once renowned for.

As the result was confirmed in the early hours of Monday 16th August, the nation would prepare for its third peaceful transition of political power. The masses took to the streets, dancing in jubilation as the sun began to rise on a new dawn.  The markets seemed to feel the same, with the local currency, the kwacha, gaining almost instinctively against the dollar.

Reaction of the wider regional and international community was equally upbeat. Together we reveled in the history of the country’s largest election victory, by votes. A victory for all Africa as one of the continent’s beacons of democracy again placed their faith in, and were rewarded by, the electoral process.

Through social media, where the election was arguably decided, messages of positivity poured in from all corners of this very young continent. The youth of Africa took note of how decisive their vote could be. This served in many ways as confirmation that Zambia will rebuild itself for generations of tomorrow, while hopefully inspiring others around us to do the same.

When President Hichilema addressed the nation, once confirmed as the president-elect, what stood out was his projection of values. Ahead of the 2016 general election, I had the privilege of being invited to Mr Hichilema’s residence to interview him for my university dissertation. Against a backdrop of opulence, a result of his business success, was a most humble man.

Welcoming, respectful, and gracious, he valued our time and played his role as host very well, even shifting the patio furniture we were sat on into the shade, away from the scorching mid-summer sun.

President Hichilema’s appointment is a significant reminder of the importance of people power and a landmark moment for Zambian and African democracy.

Zambia forward.