Pictured (L-R): Tracey Carney, Managing Director of Catalyst Media, and Iseult Ward, CEO & Co-Founder, FoodCloud, and winner of the ESG Leader Award
Irish Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) leaders gathered at a Gala Luncheon at the Round Room in the Mansion House, Dublin on 20 April, 2023, for the second year of the Business & Finance ESG Awards.
While sustainability is the most important and urgent issue of our times, it can mean different things to different companies. ESG provides a specific set of criteria, namely environmental, social and governance, that companies can measure, benchmark and report against. ESG is vitally important because it now relates to internal practices and policies that lead to effective decision making and, in turn, facilitates sustainable top-line growth into the future.
Attracting over 100 entries from 80+ companies nationwide, the ESG Awards were established to recognise and celebrate individuals and groups who are actively striving to address environmental, social and governance issues. The Awards showcase the successes of ESG initiatives and examples of best practice, as well as highlighting the importance of transparency.
In light of growing climate change concerns and the increasing importance of sustainability, large numbers of businesses are recognising the need to adopt ESG into their company’s DNA. As such, the ESG Awards were established to commend and encourage this trend by recognising those who are surpassing their expectations and setting a high standard for ESG excellence.
This awards ceremony entered its second year, and included some of Ireland’s most influential businesses named as finalists. The winners were decided by an esteemed judging panel who rewarded the best in class under 15 categories, and one outstanding individual demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and ESG.
The judging panel included notable business leaders such as Kathy Ryan, Head of Responsible Investment, Irish Life Investment, Jackie King, Executive Director, International Business, Ibec, Margot Slattery, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at ISS, Tomás Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland, Anne Heraty, Non-Executive Director, Cpl, Faye Walsh Drouillard, Founder & Managing Partner at WakeUp Capital, and Lisa-Nicole Dunne, Managing Director, Mantra Strategy.
Business for Good
Tracey Carney, Managing Director of Catalyst Media, welcomed Peter Power, CEO of Unicef Ireland, to the stage. He said: “Business & Finance has been a leader in Ireland for business for good […] In this room, you really are all leaders […] Collectively, you recognise […] that the companies you represent are integral parts of society […] In the Sustainable Development Goals, these goals cannot be achieved by governments alone. The corporate sector is so big […] the goals cannot be achieved without them.”
Unicef engages with 30,000 companies on ESG around the world. They also vaccinate over 45 per cent of the world’s children.
Partners for this year’s ESG Awards included UrbanVolt, SSE Airtricity, Ibec, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Enterprise Ireland, Unicef Ireland, Onclusive, Clearstory, Aviva, Flogas Enterprise, Gas Networks Ireland, and I-RES.
Net Zero Carbon Award
Dublin-based law firm Matheson LLP claimed the first award of the afternoon as it received the Net Zero Carbon Award, sponsored by UrbanVolt. The award was presented by Declan Barrett, Chief Commercial Officer of UrbanVolt.
Matheson LLP was commended by judges for its CarbonCal – Energy Tracker App. The CarbonCal App allows users to measure their carbon footprint on an ongoing basis. This initiative promotes awareness and sustainable knowledge and tracks users’ carbon footprint. Matheson’s goal is to achieve the firm’s 2025 net-zero targets.
ESG Innovation Award
Refurbed saw off competition from Astatine, Cognition World, DPD Ireland, I-RES, NCBI – Working for People with Sight Loss, and Normative to take home the ESG Innovation Award, sponsored by Gas Networks Ireland. The award was presented by Gráinne O’Reilly, Social Sustainability Manager of Gas Networks Ireland.
Judges noted refurbed is an upcoming company with excellent metrics making a real impact and bringing awareness in a practical way to the circular economy.
Social Responsibility Project Award
The Social Responsibility Project Award, sponsored by Unicef Ireland, was awarded to SSE Airtricity, and presented to the company by Áine McKeown, Business Development Officer, Unicef Ireland. Ergon Capital, Gas Networks Ireland, Permanent TSB, William Fry, and Wolfpack Digital were also amongst the nominees.
Since 2008 SSE Airtricity has invested significantly in Ireland, with a total economic contribution of more than €3.8 billion to the economy. SSE Airtricity owns and operates 28 onshore wind farms totalling 890MW across the island of Ireland, offsetting over 700,000 tonnes in carbon emissions annually.
SSE Airtricity was commended by judges for comprehensively tackling the energy crisis and supporting vulnerable clients, ultimately making the largest offering of corporate support of any energy company.
Employee Experience Award
Dublin-based energy agency Codema took home the Employee Experience Award, in partnership with Diageo and Cafe on Seine, in a category featuring NFP Ireland, Downing, Citi, and Mintago. Amy Byrne, Business Development Executive for The Mercantile Group, announced the winner.
Codema has exceeded 100 per cent Equity and Employee Relations for 21 years and recorded its highest retention rate of 133 per cent in 2022. Codema began piloting a 4-day working week in February 2022, as part of a global trial.
Codema was commended by judges for the 4 day week initiative and evidence of employee experience.
Biodiversity Initiative Award
The Biodiversity Initiative Award went to Dublin Bus. The ‘Dublin Buzz’ initiative was set up in 2021, starting at the depot in Phibsboro. Over 50,000 native black bees are now inhabiting a small patch of previously unused land nestled in the back. The lilac bushes along the perimeter boundary and wildflower planting around the hive have provided the native black bee with sufficient pollinating needs ensuring a Lifecyle approach to the project.
ESG Investment Award
Aviva has been at the very forefront of the ESG revolution for a number of decades with a primary investment purpose of delivering investment excellence with a focus on ESG and sustainability. Aviva was commended by our judges for their high ambition, clear metrics and concrete examples of action, supplemented by an overall internal company strategy.
Future ESG Leader Award
The Future ESG Leader Award, sponsored by Clearstory International, recognises and celebrates an individual who is setting exceptional examples in sustainability leadership in the early stage of their professional career. Rebecca Lee of Clearstory International awarded the prize to Luke Deasy of Copper Coast Renewables, an energy professional who delivered Ireland’s first solar farm in 2021 with the largest roof-top solar installations in the country for the past 3 years. Judges commended Luke for his extraordinary commitment to renewable goals that go further than most and for creating partnerships with clients as well as with local communities to explore renewable energies.
ESG Company Award (Enterprise)
The ESG Company Award (Enterprise), in partnership with Flogas, recognises Enterprise companies making exceptional contributions towards creating a set of Environmental, Social & Governance strategies with impactful actions and results for their stakeholders at every level.
Barry Murphy, Commercial Director of Flogas, announced that the winner was An Post. Judges commended An Post for committing to an ambitious carbon reduction target of net zero from their own operations by 2030. In H1 2022, energy management initiatives resulted in a 12% reduction of energy use compared to H1 2021.
An Post continues to purchase 100% green electricity and they are the first business in Ireland to take a series of pledges as part of this initiative.
Special Recognition – ESG Leader Award
Iseult Ward, CEO & Co-Founder of FoodCloud, was awarded for her outstanding work as an ESG leader. FoodCloud redistributes large quantities of surplus food across Ireland. The technology also connects food businesses directly to local charities. Working with over 600 Irish charities, an average of 2,200 tonnes is rescued annually with an estimated value of €6.7m.
Ms. Ward has a history of strong leadership. In 2017, she was included on the Forbes ’30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs’ European list.
Ms. Ward said: “It is such an honour to win this ESG Special Recognition Award. FoodCloud has been focused on creating a positive social and environmental impact since we started 10 years ago by rescuing surplus food.
“Today, over 200 million meals equivalent have been donated to community organisations across 4 countries, leading to the avoidance of 270,600 Co2Eq. We can only achieve this level of impact working with a significant number of businesses and community partners who also recognise the increasing importance of ESG. I would like to thank the Business & Finance team for this award and recognition of our global community committed to tackling food waste and food insecurity.”
Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Initiative
The Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Initiative award, sponsored by the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, was brought home by Inclusio. Professor John Cotter, Head of the Finance Subject Area from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School awarded the prize to the winning company.
Inclusio supports companies to measure and track diversity and inclusion in neurodiversity, disability, and experience with accommodation in the workplace. The Inclusio platform combines technology, psychology, and Artificial Intelligence to measure, track and action DE&I. It also provides an opportunity for employees to be heard by confidentially.
Inclusio was commended by judges for initiatives including the Shadow Board, an in-depth training and development program that helps build a culture of equity.
Good Governance Award
The Good Governance Award, sponsored by I-RES, recognises a company which has set an exceptional example in terms of transparently managing its business practices. Barretstown took home the prize, seeing off competition from the Marie Keating Foundation and Oxfam Ireland.
Anna-Marie Curry, Company Secretary and General Counsel from I-RES, presented the award to Barretstown. Judges noted the highest standards of governance this company employs to ensure delivery of essential programmes. These include full compliance with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations as well as being awarded Triple Lock Standard by the Charities Institute Ireland for transparent reporting.
ESG Finance Award
CleverCards won the ESG Finance Award, sponsored by Ibec. Aisling McNiffe, Senior Communications and Political Affairs Executive for Financial Services Ireland from Ibec presented this award.
CleverCards has launched a downloadable Digital Mastercard to mitigate the outcomes of the energy crisis. The card is configurable as an Energy Subsidy Mastercard, unlocking instant access to energy subsidies for those in need to pay their utility bills.
Clevercards were commended by judges for its highly innovative development to catalyse targeted income support.
Energy Efficiency Initiative Award
Tata Consultancy Services Ireland won the Energy Efficiency Initiative Award, sponsored by SSE Airtricity. Klair Neenan Managing Director of SSE Airtricity, announced the winner.
Tata Consultancy Services’ strategy is to reduce the carbon footprint using 100 per cent green energy at present, with the goal of becoming energy self-sufficient on site by 2025. Judges commended Tata Consultancy Services on the many initiatives they had introduced including the installation of 696 solar panels on site as well LED lighting in the carparks. They also established an active Energy Committee which educates employees on ways to be energy efficient, for example, using QR codes to turn on heating and AC systems on site.
ESG Team Award
Fyffes won the ESG Team Award. Fellow nominees included An Post, Antaris Consulting, Janssen Sciences Ireland UC, NCBI Labs, and Version 1.
The Fyffes team delivers sustainability targets, works on compliance with EU regulation, explores the cost benefit of establishing a foundation, maps its customer sustainability requirements, develops its Living Wage commitment, and works on its donation programs. Fyffes was commended by judges for outstanding targets published in its Sustainability Report during 2021.
ESG Company Award (SME)
The ESG Company Award (SME), sponsored by Aviva, recognises small and medium sized companies that made exceptional contributions towards creating a set of Environmental, Social & Governance strategies with impactful actions and demonstrable results for its stakeholders at every level.
Steven Rice from Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland welcomed winner Portwest to the stage.
Judges commended Portwest for increased investment in its sustainability agenda, with a focus on calculating, understanding and reducing our impact on the environment and natural resources, increasing learning and development, and improving procurement policies and procedures.
ESG Grand Prix Award
The final Award of the afternoon was ESG Grand Prix Award, presented by Business & Finance. This award celebrates the successful company that receives the highest score from this year’s judging panel.
The winner was An Post, collecting its second award of the afternoon.
Setting the Bar Higher
Speaking at this afternoon’s ceremony in The Round Room at Dublin’s Mansion House, Tracey Carney, Managing Director, Catalyst Media, congratulated the winners: “The entries for the second annual ESG Awards set the bar even higher than the inaugural event in 2022. Every company nominated has displayed truly impressive credentials across the board, reflecting the high level of importance placed on ESG standards across policy, production and everything in between. We congratulate all of the winners, and we look forward to seeing further progress in their companies and in Ireland’s wider business community.”
The next ESG Awards is already taking shape. For more details on partnership opportunities, contact Brian Kearns: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more ESG:
“The family farm has been decimated over the last 15 years” – Norman Crowley of CoolPlanet, winner of the 2022 ESG Leader Award
Brian O’Neill of Aviva, Winner of ESG Zero Carbon Award 2022