In accordance with its corporate responsibility objectives, European finance specalist Kartesia has implemented an active engagement policy, aimed at improving the ESG performance of invested companies.
As one of the invested companies, thebigword Group’s CEO, Joshua Gould spoke about environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) in an interview with Kartesia. You can read the interview below:
ESG isn’t something we do for our investors and marketing, it is part of our DNA and business culture. Many businesses see ESG as a set of tickbox exercises, however we believe it’s a tool to make the lives of bigworders more fulfilling, interesting, and meaningful. For us it’s a hiring and retention tool, a cause and a reason to choose thebigword over another organization but most of all we do it because we have a genuine interest in our environmental and social impact, and we realize the benefits that strong governance brings to our business.
Before I answer specific questions, I would like to highlight our support for the Ukrainian people. I am sure you have all been watching the unfolding situation in Ukraine with deep concern. thebigword has extensive experience providing Ukrainian interpreters to NATO, the British government and civil service both on-site in Ukraine, in the UK and the US. Over the last week we have been working with charities to deliver free Ukrainian to English interpreting services for refugees. In addition, we have been in constant contact with our Ukrainian linguist base, offering to support where we can with any re-locations.
It is times like this where all private citizens and companies must decide whether they want to be part of the solution. thebigword has a clear mission to provide language access to the most vulnerable people in society – this was evident when we recently assisted in the evacuation of over 30,000 people from Afghanistan, with our team only leaving Afghanistan 12 hours before the last US military flight.
What is the approach of thebigword towards ESG policies and best practice?
thebigword operates a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team and a CSR Policy that oversees the E&S. Our CSR team is made up of people from China, India, Netherlands, USA, the UK, and those individuals come from all levels of our organizational structure. We believe that having such a varied team with people from many different backgrounds ensures that we have a more inclusive and global focus.
In addition, we have a board made up of shareholders and non-executives that works with people throughout our organization via our sub committees to meet our corporate governance goals including fair and equal pay, best practice, conflicts of interest and client suitability.
Please can you outline the ESG initiatives put in place by thebigword?
Our ESG initiatives are divided as follows:
• Workplace: aiming to reduce attrition, boost team engagement and support our recruitment best practices, positioning us as a positive place to work.
• Environment: aiming to educate on the environmental impact of some of our current processes/practices and reduce our environmental impact.
• Community: aiming to surpass the money raised for charity and company volunteering days in 2021 and to support charities worldwide chosen by employees
• Marketplace: aiming to support our supply chain and client base through CSR best practice and by partnering with our local, national and international communities.
• Governance: aiming to ensure that the business meets and exceeds the highest levels of fairness, legal and ethical standards.
What was the outcome & impact of these initiatives?
thebigword has been carbon neutral for the last 3 years and I am delighted to share that in 2022 we will have reduced our footprint further to the point that we now offset 105% of our carbon emissions creating a 5% surplus. I think we have to stop being okay with organizations setting long term, made for media offsetting targets, there are plenty of opportunities to support carbon offset programs to ensure that businesses are re-capturing the emissions used.
We are also targeting fair gender pay at all levels of our organization – again we couldn’t accept long term targets when short term actions can resolve a key issue and I am happy to report that thebigword has met all its goals for fair gender pay and we publish such information on our website.
New in 2022, thebigword CSR team has also added an education aspect to our work where we will educate our workforce in how we can all play our part to benefit the environment, with hints and tips on our internal social network. We also have an educational program on cultural holidays/events and what they mean to our colleagues globally as well as training on how to virtually fundraise for our selected charities.
What are the ongoing ESG challenges that the Company faces & what are some solutions you have found to these?
I think the key challenge for ESG is to be able to execute on initiatives within the new virtual working environment. Over 50% of thebigword’s workforce is now permanently virtual and we have had to invest in software and train our management in best practices to ensure that we can continue to thrive in a world where there is more flexibility but often more challenges.