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How SMEs can structure and formalise their net zero responsibilities

Be Ethical Training is an e-learning platform that helps a business map, measure and report all their environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities.

The business was incorporated in July 2020 as a consultancy business by co-founders and directors Caroline Swailes and Heather de Groot and since then has transitioned from consultancy to self-led training and coaching in July 2021. The restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic was the initial reason for this transition. However, now it is to create a scalable business that supports any organisation based in the UK and English-speaking countries, all supporting their ESG mission.

ESG Training & Aims

The training membership consists of eight core modules, eight bonus courses, monthly group coaching, podcasts, webinars and extra resources, together with an online community.

Each module and bonus course takes approximately 4-6 hours to complete. They offer 12-months of access to help a business build a structured programme, create accountability and develop their network as part of their online community.

The training also supports a business with continuous improvement and collaboration with companies that are part of the environmental mission to achieve a greener economy and net-zero.

Together with mapping, measuring and reporting all their environmental commitments, further business outcomes include sustainability, growth, achieving industry standards, accolades, and awards in recognition of their commitments.

There are countless businesses doing lots in support of the environment, performing ad-hoc activities and achieving excellent outcomes. However, without any structure to them, they are not being captured and reported, so they cannot be aligned with any broader or global commitments.

This structure also supports the business in reducing costs, engaging stakeholders and becoming clear of their environmental impact.

The 12-month membership aims to make these activities ‘business as usual’ for an organisation by training internal candidates and departments to co-ordinate and manage them.

The training guides a business to set up a central point for data capture and material assets, together with contact directories that support the advancement of their environmental commitments and net-zero transition.

The training considers each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG’s), with the environmental module prioritising the six environmental goals: clean water, affordable and clean energy, climate action, life below water, life on land.

Strategic partnerships

Be Ethical Training is working strategically with circles of influence to build their offer to achieve their mission. Partnerships have already been agreed with Investors in Community, CSR Accreditation, the Family Business Network, University of Chester and the Liverpool and Chester Chambers.

They are also working in partnership with data software company Diginex to offer a dashboard that their candidates can utilise when capturing their ESG data in support of developing their annual CSR report.

Peer to peer support

The ESG Support Forum has been set up in response to research completed and a feedback exercise. This forum creates an opportunity for anyone in the ESG space to participate in monthly facilitated coaching calls. It is also a chance for senior ESG specialists to support those just coming into a role by buddying up and offering support as a mentor.

Be Ethical Training requests feedback at every stage of their training and coaching to inform them of their membership’s priorities and challenges. They then use this intelligence to shape future resources and training needs around it.

The business has invested heavily in automation to ensure a return on investment for every company participating in the training, helping their chosen candidate feel fully supported during their 12-month membership. This automation also supports their pipeline, consistently engaging with companies keen to explore their services before they invest.

Both directors and co-founders have worked determinedly to continually think about the needs of SME businesses in becoming part of the ESG movement. They have achieved this without any external funding, investing their savings in bringing this business to market. And with their passion and enthusiasm driving their determination, they have clear goals for the next 12-48 months. When realised, these goals will see them working in new territories, partnering with global organisations, donating a minimum of £25,000 a year to charity and giving every business at the start of their ESG journey a chance to become more than just part of the conversation but part of the change that has to happen across the planet.