Well, the first step is to build a plan of action to make your business a sustainable service provider. However, knowing where to start can be a challenge.

Thankfully EuRA, in collaboration with the Coalition for Greener Mobility, has produced a new white paper covering sustainable development goals for Destination Service Providers (DSPs). This includes details of the framework DSPs should use to develop and meet sustainability goals in all areas of their business.

The aim is to help you create your own Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programme. It will help your business look beyond financial goals and begin to develop value within society. Part of this includes considering then managing environmental sustainability and social responsibility issues. An effective ESG programme should also describe how you monitor and review your performance and manage your business.

We recommend that ABRA members develop and adopt an ESG programme as a matter of best practice. To get you started, here are our top take aways from each section of the EuRA Sustainability White Paper.

Environmental Sustainability

A good ESG programme should be built into the fabric of your business. Your environmental planning should consider every operational perspective of your business, from the office to service delivery.

Within the office, consider:

  • Power suppliers – choosing suppliers who provide renewable energy has never been easier. This will have an instant impact on your business’s carbon footprint.
  • Paper consumption – the world has never been more digital. It’s worth taking the time to see which of your business practices can be taken fully digital. Moving away from printing unnecessarily will not only protect natural resources, but also save your business money in paper purchases and storage solutions.
  • Training – Ensuring that your team is fully up to date with business policy and best practices will help minimise your carbon footprint.

Service delivery can also have a strong impact on how sustainable your business is:

  • Work with the right people – ensure that you’re working with other companies who share your sustainability goals. If they don’t, provide them with guidelines covering your requirements and support them to become compliant with your needs.
  • Help your assignee – Providing information on public transport, sustainable power suppliers and recycling options will help your assignee start sustainably.
  • Consider how you move – Is it possible to use public transport or even to cycle for your team? Can service delivery occur at the weekend when traffic may be lower? By being conscious and minimising use of fossil fuelled powered vehicles, you can cut carbon emissions and save money.

Social Sustainability

The social side of an ESG programme is where you consider how your business impacts wider society. We’re not just talking about the environment though, this is also about the wellbeing and quality of life of customers, assignees and suppliers.

By considering what impact your business has on the lives of others, you can quickly develop a plan to be a positive force within your community.

  • Take care of your team – look at ensuring your team has a positive work life balance, that vacation means time off, not less calls, and that stress is kept to a minimum. You should also ensure that you’re providing an environment where your staff can develop skills and feel fairly compensated for their time.
  • Financial transparency – create and enforce equal pay and payment best practice policies. Also allocate annual budget to train your team and to achieve the business’s ESG goals.
  • Bring your customers along – inform and educate your customers on sustainability best practices. Making your own ESG programme easily accessible and a prominent part of your messaging can help here too.
  • Encourage your community – by actively engaging with your local community, your business can be a force for good for all. This can take the form of charitable work, sponsorships, internships or encouraging employees to let you know what the business could be involved in.

Governance

All DSPs are subject to checks, best practices, areas of compliance, reporting and policies to ensure their ethical and legal operation. ESG governance ensures accurate reporting, transparency of operations whilst pursuing integrity and diversity within leadership.

Key areas to think about within your business include:

  • Compliance – consider the policies and practices your business needs to follow. This can include GDPR, anti-money laundering and anti-bribery policies.
  • ESG/Sustainability Advocacy and Ownership – The success of any far-reaching policy hinges on consistent implementation. Tasking one or members of your team to own and implement the ESG programme is a great step towards success.
  • Risk Management – it’s crucial that you consider factors inside and outside your own business. Completing risk assessment of suppliers, partners and your own workforce will give you a clearer picture of business vulnerabilities and ways you and others can improve.
  • Write it down – Your entire ESG programme should be documented and available. There’s no point in creating a policy unless everyone who needs it can access and use it.

If you’d like to read the white paper in full, you can request your copy from the EuRA website. The EuRA sustainability framework is a living document, so it doesn’t cover every possible situation. If you think something important is missing, we’d love to hear about it to get it added to future versions.

ABRA is working towards our own ESG programme, which we aim to have in place during 2024. Our Sustainability Committee will define the programme roadmap, and objectives. Once completed, we will pass this on to all members and make it available to all.

If you would like to help with this process, then members may join our Sustainability Committee. If you would like more information, please contact us here.

You also might enjoy EuRA’s Sustainability Training Series, an interactive webinar programme. To find out more, or to access the session recordings, visit EuRA.

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Tendencies
Shorter, condensed, more dynamic; that’s how Anita Meyer would describe the evolution in the way events are set-up nowadays. The ‘Ignite’-principle – probably derived from Pecha Kucha – is one of the many positive changes. Speakers get five minutes during which they can show fifteen slides of twenty seconds each. The speed inspires a subject that’s close to the heart and ensures a lively presentation of a wide subject range, not necessarily related to relocation.

Visiting various events around the globe also sheds light on tendencies within relocation. Where in the past years digitalisation and compliance were important issues, this year social values and care for the climate are high on the agenda. John Mackey, co-founder of a successful supermarket chain and author of Conscious Capitalism, writes that a successful company makes profit on the one hand and cares for its surroundings on the other.

Meyer notes that translating this to the relocation business will take some effort, especially when it comes to the products. Yet there are some examples of good practice. A large global company, for instance, obliges its personnel to spend three days a year making an effort for our planet and its people and to show proof of that. Another company engaged orphans for small chores around the company and a Chinese CEO asked a widow to cook him and his staff a fresh, healthy lunch every day. In Sweden there’s a green housing service who shows its clients around on foot and treats them to a healthy, vegetarian lunch.

National Relocation Conference, London, September 10, 2015
The NRC is a one-day conference organized by the Association of Relocation Professionals (ARP). The dynamic program comprises 30-minute sessions on compliance, immigration, sales strategies and ‘moving stories’ from the removal industry, with here and there a Just a Minute presentation. Pickford Move Manager for example, the largest moving company (in business for a hundred years), and ACS, the largest international school in London, were each given five minutes to present themselves.

The plenary session was titled Vision Meets Reality and featured the best-known characters in the UK relocation industry. A panel of two relocaters, a mover and an apartment service, shared how they envisioned their companies five years ago and how they’ve actually turned out. In some cases vision and reality were worlds apart. The audience is always keen to listen when such experienced speakers are on the stand.

Two especially inspiring individuals were keynote speaker Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft (he plays the role of fortune-teller for Microsoft, see www.theenvisioners.com) and a wake-up-after-lunch speaker, Nicola Cook, Chief Opportunity Officer of Company Shortcuts (www.companyshortcuts.com )

A few quotes from Dave Coplin to trigger your curiosity:
– Work is an activity. It’s something you do, not something you go to (work). Choose any best place to do it from;
– Emptying your inbox cannot be the goal of the day;
– Unbox your inbox: email is where information goes to die;
– TLDR: ‘too long, didn’t read’: keep your messages short.

Nicola Cook, talked about sales strategies, the difference between products with a short life span (like yoghurt) and wholesale products (like tires) and how they differ from the sale of services. If you’re trying to sell a specific service like relocation, which can sometimes feel redundant to HR people, it all comes down to relationships. You may have to know people for years before they place their first order.   Nicola advises to:

– Win mindshare: be visible, in the right way (adapt your technique to your product);
– s’marketing: combine sales and marketing, preferably via internet;
– 75% of purchasing decisions are taken before the potential customer contacts you.

Zukunft HRM Expo, Cologne, September 16-17, 2015
It was the first time that EuRA was invited to participate at what is considered to be the biggest trade fair for HR management in Europe. Given the well-known abyss between HR-people and relocaters, the invitation to partake in this event was a great opportunity, and somewhat of a milestone, to draw attention to the available relocation services. EuRA was assigned a secluded office space and pressroom where the 15.262 attendees were invited to come in and ask questions about relocation.

“Since EuRA did not know what to expect as a first time attendee, and the visitors were not sufficiently aware of our presence, the opportunity was not fully utilised. For the next edition we will properly prepare advance marketing via Internet,” says Anita Meyer.

Visit www.zukunft-personal.de for an impression of the event.
Salon RH Suisse, Genève
September 30 – October 1, 2015

Another first: the workshop presentation EuRA held at the annual Human Resources exhibition in Geneva. The exhibition welcomed 2.736 visitors to 185 exhibition stands, and lots of interesting short, practical sessions, organised in speakers corner structures all over the exhibition area.

EuRA received great interest from the audience. Some of the topics that were addressed: is it a global trend for expat-contracts to move from long term to short term? (Yes) What do European or global memberships add to being a member of a national relocation association? (A broader view on relocation issues. In China, for example, each year three new international schools open. That’s interesting information you wouldn’t know otherwise.)

Anita Meyer presented EuRA together with Sabine Baerloche of Active Relocation and former president of SARA, the Swiss Association of Relocation Agents. They focused on the benefits of working with relocation professionals (save yourself some trouble) and the pitfalls if you don’t.

The EuRA presence certainly enhanced the visibility of the association and awareness of the necessity to work with accredited EGQS holding members. Quite a few people in the audience approached Sabine and Anita for more information on relocation, on training, on quality seals and more.

Executive Briefing, Boston, October 6, 2015
One day before the World Employee Relocation Council in Boston, networking guru Ed Cohen organized one of his famous networking events. Cohen is founder, owner and driving force behind the Global Business News Media. He has a radio station exclusively on the topic of relocation and earns a living by setting up lunches where HR-people meet with parties who’d like to sell their goods to HR-people.

The program included short presentations by and about the sponsors of the event. For example: a young man who took over his father’s moving company and a presentation on cultural trainings and how aspiring expats should be screened to establish if their families can cope with having him or her gone for a long period.

A panel of speakers comprised of relocaters, removal companies, Cost Of Living Allowance calculators, temporary housing companies, cultural trainers and corporates were presented a set of questions which enabled them to give their opinion on the same subjects, from a different point of view:
– What’s your strategy for developing young leadership?
– What’s your strategy for growing market-share across borders?
– What new techniques and technology are you developing for enhancing customer services and talent engagement?

Food for thought for both panel and attendees, resulting in an exceptional networking event with lots of useful information and eye-openers.

World Employee Relocation Council (WERC), Boston, October 7 – 9, 2015
“As president of EuRA I will limit my report to the EuRA cocktail in the Marriott on October 8, even though it was a vibrant, maybe the best ever WERC, conference,” says Meyer.

“The bar was on an intermediate level, with easy access and visibility, and ample place for networking for the many EuRA members and friends who attended. The EuRA cocktail is becoming a popular event at the annual WERC. Every year we have to look for a bigger room to accommodate the attendees. CORT was the main sponsor for the 3rd year in a row. Thank you Ken Barron & team.”

“Almost the entire board of EuRA was present, and we took the opportunity to invite everybody and his little brother to the Malta EuRA conference in April 2016.  All board members were sporting the blue sunglasses, the EuRA goody bag item that will be sold in support of the charity of the year. Just as in previous years, we are looking for a local charity in Malta. It’s such a lovely feeling when the destination is tangible.”

The 2016 EuRA Conference takes place in Malta from April 19th to 22nd.  Book your place online by visiting the EuRA website: www.eura-relocation.com

eura relocation charity
above: the EuRA board get into the swing of things and sport the EuRA charity sunglasses
top: thank-you painting by the orphanage that was supported through the charity auction at the 2015 Porto Conference

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