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In the spotlight: Karen Higgins, Head of ESG

What did you do before joining Clarke Willmott?

I joined in September 2022, having previously worked at Grant Thornton UK LLP for over 18 years. My career started in marketing and business development, but I developed a passion for responsible business after getting involved in some local projects as a volunteer, and I moved across into the world of sustainability and ESG (Environment, Social and Governance). I now have over 10 years’ experience in this field in the professional practices sector.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I love the variety and the interesting people I meet both within Clarke Willmott and externally, but most importantly I get huge satisfaction from the fact our business is part of the solution for some of the biggest challenges our society currently faces, such as mitigating climate change and addressing inequalities through positive action.

What challenges do businesses face regarding ESG?

ESG is increasing in importance for companies due to increased regulation and the increasing demands of stakeholders and implementing an ESG strategy is not always easy. Challenges include:

  • Governance – often there is a lack of structure or transparency regarding governance and having robust processes in place is essential to ensure regulations, legislation, and policies are complied with to avoid reputational damage.
  • Data – the collection of good quality data is often tricky. Scope 3 emissions which include emissions from travel, waste, and the supply chain, are a perfect example of this – these emissions can form up to 90% of an organisation’s total footprint and yet can fall mainly within the supply chain, which is very difficult to manage.
  • Culture – it is so important for senior members of an organisation to lead from the top and that all stakeholders understand what the business stands for in order that an ESG strategy can be fully embedded and therefore delivered. This takes education, time, and a lot of perseverance.

What does a typical day in your working life look like?

Karen HigginsEvery day is different. But as an example, I could start by working with our environmental consultants to set science-based targets, then design some focus groups to help us to shape our community strategy, meet with our communications team to discuss our messaging on future campaigns and then finish my day by attending an external webinar on future ESG trends.

For more information, please contact Karen Higgins, Head of ESG.

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