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ESG – What does it mean for sustainability, Whitefox and the future?

“Certainly in the early stages of my career, business initiatives and thoughts around ESG, especially considering the societal aspects, were nothing like they are now,” our General Counsel, Peter Tarn reflects. But ESG, standing for ‘Environmental, Social, Governance’, is much more than the buzzword it’s become.

Across various industries, businesses are putting more effort into ESG practices. Currently, over 90% of global firms have adopted ESG into their corporate strategy. Rapidly growing in both investor and consumer attention, ESG is an umbrella term for sustainable and responsible business practice, considering the needs and ways in which to generate value for all stakeholders of a company, whilst doing the same for people and the planet. 

Given the increasingly conscious business practices developed throughout his legal career, we have asked Peter to reflect on the rise and acceleration of ESG strategies through the lens of his personal journey. 

The Road to ESG 

As most know, ESG hasn’t always been what it is now. ”In the early 2000s, business concerns around the environment were more about just making sure the lights or computers were turned off, and that was often as far as it went. You also weren’t really sure whether the initiatives were just to cut costs, or whether companies were actively considering the environment”. But, how far things have come.

It was moving to Brazil in 2012 when Peter’s eyes truly opened, and a passion for ESG was born. As a large producer of hydroelectric energy, and a pioneering user of biofuels, it was in Brazil (where cars can be filled up with 100% ethanol at the petrol station) that Peter started thinking more deeply about the conscious alternatives that were available in his new home – things that weren’t as mainstream in daily UK life. 

On returning to the UK, Peter moved away from law firms to large organisations, and began to see industries in a different light. “I had that nagging feeling about trying to have as positive of an impact as possible, and then I came across Whitefox.”

The Whitefox Blueprint 

Since joining in 2019, drawn in by Whitefox’s vision to ‘produce more, waste less’, Peter has fitted straight into our like-minded team, sharing goals and beliefs in building and encouraging conscious business. Whitefox is driven by our Blueprint, which is founded on our purpose – to reduce energy and water waste in industrial processes. 

We strive to view ourselves as a guardian for future generations through reducing energy and emissions, cutting water consumption, educating our stakeholders on energy efficiency, and honouring our duty to protect the natural world. We act as, and employ good citizens, always considering the impact of our decisions on the wider community. 

As a responsible, responsive employer, we encourage excellence in all our actions. We create a positive environment through which to learn and strive for innovation, foster leadership and accountability and, of course, insist on fair pay for all. We are honest and transparent with our customers, suppliers, and all stakeholders. By investing in both internal and external relationships, we treat our suppliers with respect, and expect the same within all stakeholder relationships. We know we give great service and good value, sharing and preserving knowledge at every opportunity. 

ESG – Beyond a Tick Box  

Luckily, thanks to our Blueprint, the widespread increasing pressure of ESG incorporation into business operations hasn’t been as much of a strain for Whitefox as for some organisations.  In this day and age, there’s a lot of press around greenwashing, but we always strive to be authentic in our communications and pay true attention to the impact we’re having. 

When communicating ESG narratives, clarity and authenticity are fundamental. Refining sustainability strategies in this sense strongly supports translating conscious narratives. One thing we at Whitefox found extremely helpful was holding open conversations with consultants and like-minded people, and considering the ESG strategies of other organisations. Through these conversations, you raise questions around your own practices and are able to clarify them in conversation, identifying any gaps. “For us, it was like building a house, brick by brick, you start from solid foundations and then work on specific sections. Focusing on what we can, where we can, to make continued improvements across the organisation. We plan to continue this approach for the next twelve months and beyond”.

At Whitefox, we undertook a baseline assessment of our impact across both a global and local scale using a publicly available and widely recognised framework. There are many different frameworks which organisations can utilise to measure the effectiveness of their practices. As ESG considerations and requirements differ significantly between businesses and industries, so do frameworks. It is fundamental for organisations to consider what their key drivers are, and what’s important, given their philosophy and the purpose of their organisation.

Collaboration towards a shared goal 

What’s worked for us in driving constant, meaningful change in both behaviour and attitude is having a set framework. It’s so fundamental to have this movement led from the top down and collaboratively drive true cultural change within organisations. Through having a personalised strategy to implement processes, we can enable a more cohesive workforce as part of a seamlessly conscious integration, without it being viewed as a separate function to the business. 

The environment was always our starting point

As for ‘environment’ in ESG, Whitefox has an inbuilt advantage given that our products are built on resource conservation for our customers. Profit is not our sole purpose – we’re here to have an overall positive impact. So, why stop at the product? This is just the natural starting point for Whitefox’s ESG commitments. 

We know our products achieve great things. We can reduce carbon emissions, conserve water, and ultimately, produce more from less. From our supply chain, to our offices and within our labs, we are consistently striving to achieve the task of improving ourselves on the environmental aspect. 

A key strategy we have in furthering our environmental targets is taking a much more measurable approach to our supplies, enabling us to give better information to our customers in the future and create a continual ripple effect within positive environmental impact. For example, within our supply chains, we are exploring ways in which we can collaborate with our suppliers to drive systematic change. 

Driving a conscious society 

“The societal element of ESG is where I’ve seen the biggest shifts within my career” Peter explains.  At Whitefox, we are extremely proud to have a very diverse mix of people, nationalities and backgrounds; “I’ve never worked anywhere that’s nearly as diverse”. The collaboration of ideas and people within Whitefox, with such a rich accumulation of diversity in both experience and perspectives, is so important to us and our philosophy to grow in the right direction.

For the societal element of internal ESG strategy building, the HR function is fundamental. Luckily, inspiring and empowering conscious employees is easy for us. “At Whitefox, motivation hasn’t been difficult because everybody in the business is very clear about why we’re here”. We have a motivated team, driven by our Blueprint, goals and philosophies; our recruitment processes are fundamental and we see this as a real benefit. Particularly when it comes to onboarding younger generations, these voices are key to translating what the future needs – they’re an authentic, integral part of our business’s identity and voice. 

One really exciting new hire for us, is our UK based Head of People and Culture. We’re thrilled to have Samuel Cushing join us. Samuel will be tackling a broader role than a traditional HR manager position, looking to melt all those different cultures together and cultivate the benefits from those qualities to really build what we believe to be the Whitefox culture.

Governance is a growing goal 

“Although it may not be the most exciting part for many under ESG, governance is a vital aspect and we have made huge strides on governance within the last four years I’ve been here,” Peter explains. With a robust structure and strong processes in place, Whitefox has been commended for its effective governance. The organisation is now looking to enhance this area too and is actively looking to recruit a Chair for the Board who will enthusiastically support the importance of having a positive impact. 

The future for Whitefox’s ESG strategy

What does the future hold for ESG at Whitefox? Peter responded, “At Whitefox, we aid our customers on a path to Net Zero. But further to this, our aim is to be Net Positive. I think a lot of people at Whitefox are proud of the fact that they work for us – because of who we are, and what we’ve achieved so far. If we can add to that, all the better.”


Read all about Whitefox’s journey, plan, and motivations on the website

About Whitefox Technologies Limited

Whitefox Technologies, with 22 years of industrial experience, is a leading solutions provider for fuel ethanol and other alcohol production processes. Specializing in technology development and process integration based on proprietary membrane solutions, its efficient designs reduce energy and water consumption in fuel ethanol and other renewable fuel and chemical production processes. Whitefox provides solutions for alcohol producers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America.

For further information:

Trond Heggenhougen
Whitefox Technologies
+44 (0)20-7953-8408