Speaking with ECS Group’s Chairman and CEO, Adrien Thominet, at TIACA’s air cargo forum in Miami last week, CargoForwarder Global came away from the interview wondering if the S in the company’s acronym* actually stands for Sustainability. Certainly, when talking about the S in ESG, referring to the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards evaluated by potential investors, it is clear that within ECS Group, this goes through and beyond the Social aspect.
“As a service provider without own assets such as aircraft, warehouses or cargo equipment, it is clear that, in order to make a difference when it comes to Sustainability, we need to focus on
our most important asset of all: our staff,” Adrien Thominet tells me, as we sit in the private meeting room cleverly integrated into ECS Group’s booth at the air cargo forum in Miami, on
10NOV22, shielded from the hustle and bustle of interested cargo stakeholders networking outside. Air cargo is a people business: both the TIACA conference and ECS Group are shining examples of
“Suppliers like ECS Group can either choose to be a witness to what their customers are doing,” and, to illustrate, he points to various airlines and forwarders jointly investing in SAF, or creating eco-friendly warehouses, or choosing to run electric road feeder services or airside fleets, “or they can really take the topic on board and create true value. At ECS Group, we want to be an example and show that we can change things for the better.”
The past two years, in particular, have been a wake-up call for the industry, when it comes to Sustainability. The importance of ESG-orientation is soaring when it comes to investment decisions, he tells me. I have since researched and found that not only are investors willing to pay more into companies clearly demonstrating ESG policies and compliance, but ESG investments already bring much higher performance yields than those without an ESG-focus. A recent OCT22 PwC report states: “In our 2020 Asset and wealth management revolution paper, The Power to Shape the Future, we examined how the US$127 trillion industry was in an ideal position to tackle inequality and drive the green transition. Since then, we’ve seen an unprecedented acceleration in the move towards environmental, social and governance–orientated (ESG-orientated) investments. As investor allocations to ESG funds increase, the industry now has an opportunity to be at the forefront of a burgeoning ESG revolution.” PwC emphasizes that “ESG is replacing asset price increases as an engine of growth,” and that “pursuing ESG is fundamental.”
… and passion
Fundamental, yes, but Adrien Thominet himself has also experienced a mindset shift away from Sustainability being something a company has to do and pay for, towards it being a positive and genuine investment into the future. He reports being “amazed at the attention of the new generation” when it comes to Sustainability, along with their attitude and creative ideas, and confirms that being able to demonstrate an ESG focus is also a clear deciding factor for young talent choosing potential employers.
Time off for social responsibility
ECS Group’s own attitude to tackling the “S” in ESG is also creative and possibly unique amongst its peers. ECS Group employees are encouraged to pursue social involvement and are given time off, whether this is one day a month or every few weeks, to support charities and other social initiatives of their own choosing. “You cannot imagine the diversity of charity programs,” he enthuses – ranging from bio-egg farms in Africa to mental health initiatives in Australia. ECS Group’s willingness to sponsor different charitable activities along with enabling its employees to invest their time in social responsibility, brings additional benefits: not just staff motivation, but a deeper awareness of people’s true passions and personalities, making the group more than just a workplace.
A clear person in charge of Pillar 4
Following a year of focused transition and intense work with PwC France, ECS Group has not only outlined a clear sustainability policy and guidelines for what constitutes the fourth pillar of its business strategy, namely Sustainability, but has also appointed a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) to develop, implement, and drive these initiatives. Laurence Sauphanor took up her position in AUG22, and promises on her LinkedIn page that, alongside defining Group general sustainability principles and guidelines, establishing a CSR materiality matrix on local levels, defining key sustainability KPIs and implementing an ESG reporting system, and monitoring and improving ECS Group’s carbon footprint (scopes 1, 2, 3), there is “more to come” in ECS Group’s Sustainability drive.
And that may well include reinvesting the Group’s revenues into further Sustainability initiatives.
[*The S in ECS stands for Services, in case you were wondering.]
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