Topics ranging from net zero and sustainability to equality diversity hold real importance to our Partners and, through our CSI events, the valuable insight and discussion will help inform decisions and implement plans more effectively.

Opening the day

The first phase of the Cross Sector Initiative was a workshop for senior leaders, which took place on 30 June 2022 at Radcliffe House in Warwick Business School.

The CSI focused on the net zero agenda, with University of Warwick and other businesses giving insight on their approach to everything from building and maintaining properties to marketing the net zero agenda.

Opened by Pip Abercromby, Director of Finance and Commercial at West Midlands Growth Company and Prof. Nigel Driffield, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Regional Engagement at Warwick Business School, the workshop kicked off with a re-cap of the preceding Sustainability Practitioners’ Workshop.

With a range of attendees, from sustainability specialists to senior leaders, and with businesses from Bruntwood to NEC Group, from CBRE to University of Wolverhampton, the day was full of varied discussion and perspectives.

University of Warwick’s net zero approach

After the first break, the group discussed the strategic benefits of accelerated change and the consequences of inaction to the net zero agenda, which was presented by Prof. David Elmes (Professor of Practice, Strategy & International Business Group at Warwick Business School).

This was an in-depth topic, which highlighted the University of Warwick’s (UOW) personal sustainability journey. David provided us with examples of The Warwick Standard, which is a programme designed by University of Warwick to identify innovative ways to reduce energy and emissions by focusing on:

  • New Buildings
  • Refurbished Buildings
  • Building Operations
  • Building Maintenance

By developing The Warwick Standard, UOW now has high quality requirements for buildings across the campus and have developed a team, known as the Energy Infrastructure Group, to implement net zero targets and maintain the university's commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Due to its work, three recent buildings on campus have received awards for their quality: the Prof. Lord Bhattacharyya Building, Cryfield Village and Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBRB). 

The group were then taken on a tour of the aforementioned buildings, seeing what can be achieved in terms of of sustainable construction and retrofitting.

Marketing the net zero agenda

Hugh Wilson, Professor of Marketing and Sustainability at UOW, gave delegates insight into the marketing of sustainability. Strategic questions were discussed by the group such as: how best to appreciate the attitude-behaviour gap around net zero; how to apply a framework of options for influencing customer behaviour; and, reflecting on how sustainability marketing is implemented.

This topic generated much discussion, with specific breakout activities for each group to complete.

Changing consumers behaviours

The final session of the day ended with Behavioural and Decision Scientist Dr. Umar Taj presenting on a Nudgeathon: what it is and how to utilise the method when creating new policies and processes.

A Nudgeathon aims to produce solutions to major problems by drawing on insights and methods from behavioural science. It is a tool used to work through complex problem and develop new ideas through crowdsourcing.

Dr. Umar Taj went on to discuss improving leadership decision-making, and kickstarted this by providing three tips to immediately improve a person’s decision-making:

  1. Always run a pre-mortem – imagine your future event or project has failed and identify what went wrong. Complete a pre-event lesson learned.
  2. Expand right – create a decision scorecard or include a variety of options to choose from.
  3. Expand down – focus on results and do not stop at the first objectives that come to mind. It is important to record decisions – you can then start to spot ‘missed objectives bias’ and identify decision-making trends.

Working together on net zero

As the day ended, Luke Strickland, Net Zero Advisory Lead at Mott MacDonald highlighted that “we need the incremental and the fundamental” throughout the region's journey to net zero and emphasised how it is imperative to bring people on the journey in a variety of different ways.

Despite the sectoral differences in delegates, everyone who took part in the session are all peers within a hive mind and Luke highlighted that the power of multiple perspectives should be utilised. The journey to net zero and sustainability is a shared problem and therefore it is important to share solutions.

Luke acknowledged that despite not having all the answers, the workshop had highlighted and provided some of the tools to empower organisations in the West Midlands to identify a path to net zero.

It is important to remember that the road to Green Growth and Sustainability is new ground for many businesses and it’s a step-change, but big decisions will generate big results over time.

Get involved

If you are interested in attending a Cross Sector Initiative session, please email partners@wmgrowth.com.

These events also provide a business development opportunity for specialist Partners to showcase their expertise as a ‘presenting partner’ and feedback any key learnings and policy recommendations to WMGC.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact partners@wmgrowth.com.

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