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Westcon-Comstor on its journey to decarbonise

Distributor has invested in its ESG team and is committed to making a positive difference

Westcon-Comstor has continued to invest in its sustainability efforts by expanding its team, as the channel player looks to develop its environmental, social and governance (ESG) proposition.

The distie has appointed Sarah-Jane McGaw as ESG lead EMEA, which follows Mark McLardie’s promotion to head of ESG at Westcon-Comstor, as it looks to deliver the firm’s five-year roadmap to decarbonisation.

McLardie has seen the sustainability issue increase in importance and it became clear that the firm needed to have a strategy around the topic.

“We were having more and more discussions with our partners, some of our very large partners, and clearly this is a topic that was becoming more important to them and was higher up on their agendas than perhaps it had been,” he said. “So we recognise that this was very much going to become a ‘must have’ within our business to develop a robust and effective sustainability programme.”

The distributor’s ESG team has grown this year from two to seven staffers. McGaw joins from EcoAct, where she was an environmental consultant specialising in climate change.

“We recognise that we needed additional investment in headcount,” said McLardie. “And we needed to develop a really wide-ranging programme within our business.”

There is a sense that progress has already been made and a lot of work to identify the current state of play has been completed, he added.

“We started at the beginning of this year with a climate strategy definition project. We felt this was an area that was going to become a real differentiator. So, we really wanted to make sure that whatever we were doing was going to leave us as at the front of the pack.”

That process resulted in a five-year roadmap towards decarbonisation and an outline of the steps the business can take to get there.

“Since that project was completed about six months or so ago, we’ve been taking the first steps on that roadmap,” said McLardie. “A lot of work we’ve been doing has been around establishing a carbon footprint across the entire business. We’ve now got a picture of what our impacts were for the last financial year and that has allowed us to start working on targets.”

The channel has been urged from all quarters to get a sustainability story to avoid losing business and being left behind by competitors, and McLardie is also clear that this is a must-do for the channel.

“So far, the conversations that I’ve had, it’s with very like-minded partners who are on a similar journey and are really looking for similar information that we’re maybe looking for from vendors and suppliers,” he said. “If I was to have a conversation with one of those partners, who was maybe hoping that this was going to go away, I would probably encourage them, or try to help them understand that this isn’t something that’s going away.”

The journey to a greener distributor

Westcon-Comstor has already taken several steps to improve its sustainability position:

  • Joined the SBTi Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and committed to reducing emissions by 90% to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.
  • Established baseline Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, using data from a range of sources to get a handle ion the firm’s carbon footprint.
  • Developed a five-year roadmap towards decarbonisation.
  • Launched a Sustainability Employee Resource Group to get employees involved with sustainability.
  • Set targets to achieve ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) in its own supply chain facilities in the UK and the Netherlands.
  • Revamped its environmental policy, with plans to introduce a new supplier code of conduct that ensures sustainability best practices across the supply chain.

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