Last month Capital International Group became a partner with Energy & Sustainability Centre Isle of Man (ESC), the Manx charity that supports the island’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

In this Q&A we talk to Nancy Shefford about why the business chose to support ESC, and how this partnership fits into the ‘bigger picture’ about Capital’s ESG strategy.

Q: Please explain Capital International Group’s mission and vision regarding sustainability.

A: The Group first set out its ESG Purpose and Mission Statement in 2020 and it has grown and developed from there.

Our mission is to create positive value for all our stakeholders, and in so doing, reduce the impact of our business activities on the environment and have a positive impact on our society.

A key element of our sustainability strategy, which encompasses our principles, is what we call ‘Conscious Capital’.

Through this, we structure our initiatives and strategy around the World Economic Forum’s four pillars of People, Planet, Prosperity, and Governance.

 Q: Tell us more about the Conscious Capital.

A: At Capital International Group we’re committed to building a better world for generations to come and our Conscious Capital programme is at the heart of that commitment.

Our Conscious Capital team is made up of volunteers from a range of departments across the Group, all with a passion for sustainability and living a conscious lifestyle both inside and outside of the business.

However, Conscious Capital goes beyond the team that we have, and includes the participation from colleagues, including our leadership team, which is really inspiring to see.

 Some of the initiatives that have grown from Conscious Capital are:

  • A tree-planting scheme in which we plant two trees for every account we open in the Isle of Man and Africa;
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) and electric bike scheme for employees in the Isle of Man, which includes installing charging points at our offices;
  • Making our office more sustainable and energy efficient: This is an ongoing initiative that so far includes installing LED lights and centrally controlled heating and air conditioning;
  • Green Tariff: We have joined a Green Tariff scheme to provide electricity from local renewable sources and the UK to IOM electricity interconnector.

 Our team and colleagues are actively involved in voluntary work for charities and community groups. Volunteer sessions take place throughout the year and are arranged by the group as well as individual colleagues who are passionate about particular causes and initiatives.

Q: How does Capital’s decision to become an ESC partner fit into the company’s sustainability objectives?

A: In addition to setting our own goals to become carbon-neutral, we also recognise that as a business with a history on the Isle of Man spanning nearly 30 years, we also have a responsibility to the wider community.

Within our team there is a strong commitment to playing our part in helping the island to achieve its net-zero goals, not just because it’s the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but also because it makes sound economic and business sense.

A strategy focus for Conscious Capital is its community impact and partnerships with other local groups who share the same interest and passion.

We have seen how ESC has grown in strength and stature since it was launched, and its mission and values demonstrate a passionate charity.

We admire the great work it is doing and are proud to make a practical difference by supporting the charity in our role as a partner.

Q: Tells us about your role as Sustainability Officer. What are your main responsibilities and day to day activities?

A: It’s a new and very exciting role for myself and Capital, with the position only having been created in July 2023.

My role is quite broad and very interesting, and I work with so many different departments across the business such as Governance, Risk & Compliance, Investment Management, Finance & People & Culture, Marketing and more, on integrating sustainability practices into day-to-day work.

Part of my role includes the alignment of our sustainability and wider group strategy with our chosen metrics, and then regular reporting on our progress against milestones and planning against future strategic goals.

Another key element is heading up and organising the Conscious Capital working group and some of the initiatives that are generated from it, as well as internal communications.

There is a lot of researching and data to work through and process from a responsible investment and carbon emissions perspective to assist with the decision-making process.

Q: The partnership with ESC adds to other support for local and off-Island sustainability and ESG initiatives too.

A: Yes, that’s correct. As mentioned previously, a key focus of Conscious Capital is our community impact and partnership with other organisations and charities that share a similar passion.

Our role as an ESC partner compliments the support we provide to other Isle of Man organisations, including Isle of Man Woodland Trust and Manx Wildlife Trust – plus our status as a UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Partner, all of which look to provide support for the local environment and improve biodiversity.

We also use our associations with the Principles for Responsible Investment, and Carbon Responsible to support our wider strategy in terms of the responsible investment environment and carbon emissions.

Q: Finally, what tips can you give to other Isle of Man businesses that are starting out on their own net-zero journey, or which have started on that road but haven’t yet made as much progress as Capital International Group?

A: Having a clear, well-defined strategy with short and long-term targets is a great starting point, then working backwards with a realistic, achievable road map to meet those goals is essential.

Having strong leadership and investment from senior management is important but having even a small passionate team who are engaged and committed helps drive meaningful change regarding sustainability.

Any business can make small changes that add up to big differences over time.

From recycling to reducing paper, plastic and water waste, there are quick wins that do not have to cost a substantial amount of money and can sometimes lead to savings in the long-term. Sharing information internally with colleagues generates awareness and interest in the subject.

There are so many different departments of the business that are involved whether they realise it or not, but sharing information starts those conversations.

It takes time but working somewhere where sustainability is known as a real commitment, and not just a box-ticking exercise, is a really rewarding and fulfilling thing.

ESC provides opportunities to share knowledge and examples of best practice outside of the organisation, another aspect of our partnership that we’re looking forward to exploring.

We would encourage other businesses to either support ESC as a partner, sign-up for ESC updates here, attend events such as the excellent GreenTalks Live debate which was held last November, and of course make sure to get all the latest sustainability, net-zero and renewable energy news on IOM Today’s environment section.