Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Samantha Lang – Risk Manager at SecuriGroup
Catherine Sheehy – Global Lead of Sustainability Partnerships at UL Retail and Consumer Products
Abbey Petkar – Managing Director at Magenta Security Services Ltd

Key points

Catherine Sheehy notes that investors are driving interest in sustainability, the principal that resources need to be sufficient to last everyone forever. In practice it includes a lot of different things, various goals and many targets and those relating to climate change are key. Investors typically have a specific interest in those that have a financial benefit to the enterprise and create value. While there are requirements for all industries there is a special play for security practitioners to help clients to meet their requirements. The stumbling block is often cost, there is often a need to invest to accumulate benefits although these can be considerable. You will hear Catherine reference evidence that stocks more committed to sustainability perform better over time. Sometimes staff, and the younger staff in particular can be drivers; regulators play a part; across the board there is a need to educate and rase awareness of the possibilities. Companies can help staff who can then educate families and begin to set examples that others will see.

Abbey Petkar notes that sustainability is everyone’s responsibility and everyone can get involved at some level.  Working from the principal of, reuse, reduce, recycle, he discusses a range of ideas including, reducing the engine size of the corporate fleet; purchasing more electronic cars; using solar power on buildings; providing work for people nearer to where they live and more. He emphasises the need for all organisations to be led by good principals and behaviours from the top. The security sector is no exception in having a close eye on margins and Abbey feels that more needs to be done to understand the value of investments made in this area, that the benefits come not just in costs savings but in better corporate responsibility and more staff engagement as well as a better corporate image for all to see. There needs to be a mindset change, this requires staff to be involved.

Samantha Lang notes that sustainability is fundamental for many reasons including corporate obligations to corporate social responsibility, to meet employees’ expectations, as well as clients’ demands and needs. There are frameworks to guide performance (such as ISO 14001) and key is for performance to be measured. Samantha too covers a range of examples showing the breadth of what is possible: new technologies providing for digitalisation and thereby reducing paper use; building sustainability into corporate travel policies; being an active supporter of renewables; signing up to the climate pledge; changing lighting to more environmental forms not necessarily in one go, just bit by bit. Samantha too picks up on the theme of being in a position to help clients meet their needs, which to be meaningful is dependent on setting good examples and having effective policies. That said, there can be limits when working on clients’ sites, although she gave the example of the security staff turning off computers when they walked around at night and that saved a lot of money for clients.

It is far from clear that the security sector as a whole has embraced the potential of sustainability in all its forms. We learn from this panel that things are changing fast, investors, Boards, staff, clients, young people, regulators, the public and governments are generating changes. Moreover, it can be seen as an opportunity to generate cost savings somewhat dispelling the myth that the drive for sustainability necessarily involves unwelcome impacts on the bottom line. While carbon credits/offsets can be purchased, and may be seen as a cop out or easy option by some, they serve a purpose, and we need to consider all the tools in the toolbox. The dangers of not doing so are too great and the opportunities for good are emerging all the time.

Martin Gill
13th April 2021