What I learned from judging the Asda Environmental Leadership Award

July 4, 2016 Ann Kelly

Karen Todd, Senior Manager, Zero Waste Sustainable Business at Asda, was the Chair of the judging panel for the Asda Environmental Leadership Award.  We caught up with her and asked why her company thinks this award is so important.

At Asda we take sustainability seriously so the Environmental Leadership Award is the perfect fit for us. It’s all about being a better business. Our focus on sustainability has seen us reduce our environmental impact and means we’ve saved money for our business, our suppliers’ businesses and our customers.

So we've made really encouraging progress, but we know that there is still a way to go. That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to understand how others are managing their environmental programmes and leading within their respective sectors.

What did you get out of being a judge on the Award?

It was great to see such a diverse range of organisations in different sectors and sizes all working towards making their businesses more sustainable. We saw companies reducing the resources they used, looking at biodiversity, introducing real innovation, pushing the boundaries or simply making sustainability an integral part of their business model.  Well, I say simple, but we know at Asda that this is often the most difficult things to achieve.  (See all the Finalist case studies).

What the Finalists all had in common was passion, supportive leadership and a drive to succeed. It feels like a cliché to say it, but it was very true - leadership is absolutely at the heart of success.  

It was really inspiring and encouraged me to look at what we are doing in Asda and see where we can improve and develop.

What can other businesses can learn from the Finalists?

As there was such a diverse selection of companies and environmental leadership examples, I would recommend checking out the case studies of each business.

But here are just a few things said at the judging that particularly struck me.

  • Balance business as usual with new and innovative sustainability ideas

  • Be future-thinking: look ahead and look at other businesses outside your sector to see what they are doing. You could be the first in your sector to deliver a new initiative

  • Find a business hook to make sustainability a business-wide ‘must have’ – not only the sustainability team ‘must have’

  • Collaboration - internal and external - is absolutely necessary to ensure sustainability becomes business as usual and not just a trial.

  • Engage with your finance team as many sustainability projects can save businesses money. Having finance are on board makes it much more likely you will get total business buy-in.

  • Combine passion with purpose – ensure all sustainability projects have clear goals and tangible benefits.

  • Measure and manage -  need I say more?

  • Share your succesful business cases wider than your own business, to help other companies them build their own business case to do something similar. Being first to market is good, but leading the total market feels great.

  • Take a leap of faith.

Karen Todd will be presenting the trophy to the winner of the Asda Environmental Leadership Award on Monday 11 July at the O2.  Take a look at the Finalists to see who might be stepping up to the podium then.



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