Category Archives: News

Greece’s Sovereign Wealth Fund appoints bespoke team of International ESG advisors to build value of its public assets portfolio

A multi-disciplinary group of international advisors led by ESG specialists, Earth Active, has been appointed by Greece’s sovereign wealth fund, Growthfund.

The group, comprising London-headquartered Earth Active and Gong Communications and Athens- based Sympraxis, combines expertise in ESG audit, capacity building, policy and strategy and best practice implementation with ESG stakeholder communications.

Commenting on the appointment, Anthi Trokoudi, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer at Growthfund said, “The international team we have appointed draws on specialists with many years’ experience, much of it honed in complex contexts where they have perfected the art and science of combining data and culture to bring about transformations that support ESG best practice. What our team in Growthfund aims for with regards to the vital issues of Sustainability and Climate is to achieve managing public companies and public real estate responsibly”.

Narda Shirley, Gong Communications Founder & CEO said, “The role of the sovereign and public wealth funds has never been more important in demonstrating global leadership on climate change, a just transition and the biodiversity crisis. Our bespoke, cross-functional team brought together for this unique engagement is supporting the team at Growthfund in delivering its vision to add value to Greece’s public enterprises and assets for the benefit of its people. We feel very lucky to be part of this ambitious project and for the association with such an iconic portfolio of assets that includes at one extreme flagship real estate and at the other, infrastructure projects such as the refurbished Corinth Canal.”


About Growthfund

Growthfund, the National Fund of Greece is a holding company established in 2016 with the Greek State as its sole shareholder, as represented by the Minister of Finance. Its mission, as Greece’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, is to: play an active role in the modernisation of Public Enterprises, maximise the value of public property, ensure enhanced services for citizens/consumers and contribute to the national economy.  In 2021, Growthfund (HCAP), signed up to the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund initiative (OPSWF). Growthfund’s portfolio includes subsidiaries and holdings in public enterprises that are active in key sectors of the Greek economy, such as Real Estate: Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), Hellenic Public Properties Company (HPPC), GAIAOSE, ETVA-VIPE, TIF HELEXPO; Energy and Utilities: PPC, EYDAP, EYATH; Transport and Infrastructure: Athens International Airport, OASA (Transport for Athens) AEDIK, 23 Regional Airports; Food Supply: CMT, CMFO, Hellenic Saltworks; Technology: PHAISTOS Fund; and Postal Services: HELLENIC POST The value of the portfolio managed by Growthfund currently stands at €6 billion, and its companies have a total of 31,000 employees.


About Earth Active

Earth Active is a globally experienced team of bespoke ESG advisors, with headquarters in London. We create sustainable value for clients from their investments by understanding the intrinsic links between E, S and G, and focusing on the investment outcome. We are specialists in leadership and governance with a deep technical understanding of the challenges of climate change, biodiversity, environmental, and social performance.  We work across the agriculture and forestry, energy and renewables, manufacturing, industrial and extractives and retail sectors for clients including development finance institutions, commercial banks, private equity and multinational companies.


About Gong Communications

Gong Communications, part of the Wilful Group, is a corporate and B2B communications agency with offices in London and Nairobi. A certified B Corp since 2017, Gong works at the intersection of finance & risk, sustainability and global development for clients including the IFC, UNESCO, Aon and Old Mutual. Alongside ESG, key themes in its work for clients include stakeholder communications around diversity and inclusion, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.


About Sympraxis

Sympraxis team provides end to end sustainability strategy, implementation and communication services to clients such as OTE (Deutsche Telecom), Papastratos (Philip Morris International), Beiesdorf, Google, SOS Children’s villages and the European Commision. In the past 22 years Sympraxis has supported more than 500 projects with an overall value that exceeds 50m€, in 16 countries throughout the globe.

Gong Communications launches Morrow Sodali ESG capability in the UK

Gong Communications launches Morrow Sodali ESG capability in the UK via thought leadership programme and expert panel event

 

Investor and stakeholder expectations are changing rapidly, and while climate issues have taken centre stage in ESG plans and disclosures, an increasing focus is being placed on social impact reporting. Decisions taken by corporates are under increased scrutiny, with stakeholders keen to understand how businesses are ensuring they contribute to a just and green transition.

A global business with a 50 year track record of successfully advising board members and executives, Morrow Sodali provides bespoke counsel to reinforce and reassure boards on best practice when it comes to ESG.

To help launch the company’s UK ESG offering, Gong Communications worked with Morrow Sodali to design and host a panel event focused on the challenges and evolving requirements of social impact reporting. Held at The Walbrook Club in the heart of the city, a panel comprising representatives from the Financial Reporting Council, ShareAction, Rio Tino and The Church of England Pensions Board was moderated and hosted by BBC business journalist Adam Shaw. A packed room of decision makers from FTSE-listed companies kept the discussion going well after the panel itself.

In addition to the event, targeted thought leadership opportunities were secured for Morrow Sodali in Global Investor Magazine and Portfolio Institutional Magazine and a short video was produced to record both the event and the business’ understanding of this fast-evolving issue for publicly listed companies.

 

 

To learn more about our thought leadership and publishing support, and how we can support you with video production, contact us

82 million refugees calling for sanctuary – what can we do?

 

1 in every 95 people on Earth has fled their home. War, religious violence, political persecution and famine are forcing people from their homes to the temporary safety of neighbouring countries – 85 per cent of which are developing nations.

As part of a wider community of B Corps using business as a force for good, we wanted to use our PR expertise to help the very charities that are creating a safer, more inclusive world for forcibly displaced persons and refugees. And so, on 20 June 2021, Gong’s Refugee Press Office was born.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Twelve months since we launched our CSR press office, we’ve been busy supporting several refugee and humanitarian-related charities.

We’ve long been advocates for Refugee Support Europe, backing its mission of Aid with Dignity. With refugees and migration becoming increasingly politicised in the UK, the work of charities and NGOs in protecting the rights of refugees has never been more important. Volunteers are the backbone of these organisations, so we were delighted when Refugee Support asked us to help them with PR around their annual Dignify Festival. The event brought together established and upcoming music and comedy acts to raise funds to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees and provide them with essential food and hygiene items.

Held at The Bedford in Balham, Ronnie Scott’s regular Sarah Jane Morris and Hip Hop Blingo kept the crowd entertained on a drizzly November evening. In the run up to the event, we secured coverage in local titles to support ticket sales, securing coverage in London News Online, South London Press and Balham Newsie.

The event was a huge success, raising £65,000 to support the charity’s operations.

DIGNITY FOR VICTIMS FOR WAR

The war in Ukraine has seen more than 14 million people flee their homes in search for safety in neighbouring countries and across the world. Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe which sits to the southwest of Ukraine, has seen its population swell as a result. This is exactly where Refugee Support decided to set up its next Dignity Centre. To assist in their fundraising efforts, we placed op-eds on behalf of co-founder, Paul Hutchings in the Independent and Charity Times, where he highlighted the importance of buying locally to boost local economies where refugees reside, rather than shipping donations from the UK.

PR WITH PURPOSE ACROSS THE GLOBE

Gong has also been lending its expertise to the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, helping to increase engagement across its social platforms.  We have delivered research on digital volunteer networks for Indigo Volunteers, a platform which connects volunteers with humanitarian projects.

Elsewhere, we have been busy assisting Alive & Kicking, an African social enterprise that promotes health education through sport, with the announcement of the winners of its second annual Youth with Refugees Art Contest. It has created over 1,000 jobs and donated more than 120,000 footballs to young people to improve health, fitness and wellbeing.

Refugee-Support-Europe-with-Gong-Communications
Pictured: Refugee Support volunteers at the Dignity Centre.

THE YEAR AHEAD

Looking ahead to what our CSR programme will look like over the next 12 months has got us buzzing with ideas. Employees are asked to pitch charities that they are passionate about, before the whole company votes to decide a favourite. Whichever it is, we’ll make sure we do our bit as a dedicated B Corp, to show how business can also be a force for good.

If you run a refugee charity and need communications support from press office, events management, brand awareness to digital PR and website development, please get in touch at info@gongcommunications.com.

Better business for all

On April 20, Gong Communications founder, Narda Shirley joined other signatories to the Better Business Act at the House of Commons to lobby MPs for a change in the law. If passed, the Better Business Act would amend section 172 of the Companies Act so that businesses are legally obliged to consider all stakeholders. As it stands, company directors are accountable to shareholders with profit maximisation as their primary fiduciary duty.

 

signatories

 

This change would mean companies are no longer able to pursue profit at the expense of workers, communities or the environment. It could help transform the way we do business and free decision-makers to act in favour of balancing in long-term interests, rather than chasing short-term financial gain.

Better Business Day kicked off with a panel discussion featuring CEOs from graze.com, Pukka Herbs and Ella’s Kitchen, moderated by Financial Times journalist Joy Lo Dico. Innocent Drinks CEO Douglas Lamont, co-chair of the Better Business Act Campaign, told the audience: “We must remove that hiding place for directors that all they have to do is maximise profit in today’s world. Companies must now balance the interests of people, profit and planet.”

Mary Portas, the campaign’s other co-Chair added her remarks and shared anecdotes about her early career as a young female company director at the luxury retailer, Harvey Nichols. She reflected on the role she and other company Directors played, believing it was their responsibility in the ‘80’s ‘greed is good’ culture to encourage consumer consumption of brands without thinking about the effect on the environment or the workers in global supply chains.

The campaign has already gained over 1,000 supporters, including The Body Shop, Oddbox and Virgin StartUp. It was initiated by B Lab UK, which serves the growing community of UK-based companies which are certified B Corporations.

Gong founder Narda Shirley says. “We know from the work we do with our clients that lots of businesses are already acting in a way that takes care of their employees, communities and the environment. But the law has not kept up with this change in business culture – that is what we’re trying to address with this act.”

One of the key actions of the campaign is to get signatories to write to their MP. There is a template letter on the Better Business Act web site that cites a survey of members of the Institutes of Directors as finding a majority think the current Companies Act focuses too much on shareholders and not enough on wider stakeholders.

It also references Research by the Better Business Act which shows that companies run in line with the principles of the Act can expect faster growth in turnover and headcount; greater levels of employee retention and diversity, and higher levels of innovation.

The same research found that 76 per cent of people in the UK want businesses to be legally responsible for their impact. They think that business has a responsibility to protect the environment and the majority favour brands that do good in the world.

At Gong, we urge businesses to add their voice in calling on the government to change section 172 of the Companies Act to make this official. Let’s ensure that all businesses are held to account and are legally required to make decisions that benefit workers, communities and the environment, while delivering profit.

To join the campaign, click here.

Gong Communications Impact Report 2021

As a B Corp, we are required to report on our impact.

We are pleased to share our 2021 Impact Report, both in terms of the work we do and the clients we are proud to work for and also to reflect on our own activity.

It might not be the punchiest of reads, but it reflects the core pillars of the B Corp movement, reporting on our efforts to contribute to society, how we play our part in the wider community, the environment and how we use resources, our suppliers and who we choose to work with, and our most precious commodity, our people, and how we operate as a business.  We hope you enjoy reading what we’ve been up to as much as we’ve enjoyed doing everything in this report.

Click on the image above to download Gong Communications’ B Corp Impact Report 2021.

If you’d like to get in touch and find out more about our work, email us at info@gongcommunications.com

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

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/  

Gong appointed to promote SEED’s eco-inclusive start-up awards

Gong has been appointed on a project basis to provide local and international PR and communications support for SEED’s biennial awards, The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development.  

Designed to identify the most innovative, locally-led, eco-inclusive, start-up enterprises in developing and emerging economies, the SEED Awards honour and help scale enterprises in Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Indonesia, India, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa and Thailand. 

As part of the project, Gong will promote the Awards winners, working with SEED and its partners to highlight the winning projects and the positive social, economic and ecological impact they have on their local communities. 

SEED was founded at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN as a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy. To learn more, please visitwww.seed.uno. 

Gong launches a Refugee Press Office

GONG LAUNCHES A REFUGEE PRESS OFFICE TO EXTEND REACH OF AGENCY PRO BONO RESOURCES TO A GREATER NUMBER OF SMALL CHARITIES  

Gong Communications today announces the launch of its Refugee Press Office, building on its existing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and B Corp commitments. 

Gong’s refugee press office will act as a pro bono PR and communications resource for refugee charities without professional communications support, helping them to communicate their stories effectively, amplifying their voices and reaching changemakers and campaigners via introductions to key journalists. Gong will provide expert media relations support for up to 10 charities per year through this initiative. 

Project lead at Gong, Hannah Hughes said, “As part of our B Corp community effort, Gong donates 160 hours of PR and comms support.  In previous years we’ve successfully worked with organisations such as Refugee Support, the African Entrepreneur Collective, and Uganda Conservation Foundation, securing coverage in influential international titles such as The Economist. This year, when we sat down as a team to choose which one charity we wanted to support, the issue of refugees and displaced people felt the most urgent. It proved too difficult to choose just one and so the idea of running a press office service that focuses on refugee issues was born.” 

Refugee charities interested in learning more about Gong’s press office service can view the webpage here: https://gongcommunications.com/refugee-press-office/ read more in the flyer here and contact us for an initial conversation.

Gong selected as PR partner to launch Birimian, an investment company focused on luxury African brands

Africa’s fashion industry is well recognised as a source of inspiration to international designers. However, limited scalability potential and lack of valuable critical mass of African designers are still hindering the growth of the creative sector.

Birimian Ventures aims to scale up African heritage luxury brands through patient capital, supporting designers on the continent and in the diaspora to facilitate their sustainable expansion both regionally and internationally, from seed funding to capital growth.

Gong backed Birimian’s market launch with robust media relations support, securing coverage across 22 countries worldwide, including in Vogue Business, Quartz, BBC Afrique and BBC World Service.