Our CEO, Michelle McKinney Frymire talks about sustainability with Julian Walker, our Head of External Communications.
Julian: "Do you think that sustainability is the latest buzzword, a trend, or will it make a real difference?"
Michelle: "Sustainability efforts will make a difference in the long term and won’t, nor should they, go away – as we have to be proactive about looking after the future of our world.
But I think it will be like the way diversity used to be seen and talked about. It took a long time to get diversity and inclusion rooted in corporate consciousness, but it is now, thankfully, an ever present fundamental part of how we work and think – and that is how sustainability needs to be.
So I think we have to make sustainability a part of what we do. We have to care, and we have to act. If we don’t, we could well find ourselves having lost too much time, or having it legislated for us in a way that won’t make sense. I think we know what is best for our company, our partners, and our industry, so we must take the initiative and act."
Julian: "What is CWT doing in this area?"
Michelle: "We will shortly be announcing some specific company ambitions and goals, but I think what is equally important is the role we can play in helping our clients, partners and suppliers achieve their sustainability goals – in short, by doing our part both inside our company, and beyond.
What we do and what we can control often impacts them – and they, in turn, by their actions, can have an impact on their industries and so society is the overall winner.
For us, our supply chain is an obvious place where we can make a specific difference. Our clients have to own their goals, but we can proactively help them achieve those, and even bring them new ways of driving sustainability that they may not have considered on their own. Not only do we have the ability to impact our own company, but we need to impact others too.
I like to think of this like throwing a rock into a pond and seeing how far the ripples we create can spread out around us.
What we must all appreciate is that while there may not be a short-term fix, just talking about sustainability isn’t enough. We need to be turning that into doing something about it."
Julian: "OK, so, to what would you like to see CWT committed?"
Michelle: "I think it is about doing the right thing. Helping our clients not just meet their own goals, but also bringing them ways to improve on them. And by that I don’t mean just by responding sustainably. I mean by proactively reaching out to clients and not just sitting there waiting for them to ask us what we can do to help. We have to be ahead of our clients in this area – and help them with the ideas and feedback they need."
Julian: "And what does sustainability mean to you and your family in your daily lives?"
Michelle: "I think we can learn a lot from those around us. Lockdown has been a time of change for many of us, in many different ways.
For my family, we had all four of our kids at home unexpectedly – and my husband and I have learned a lot from our children. A great example is how they will never use plastic water bottles – they all have refillable water bottles, and this is perfectly normal for them. Seeing what they do changed our habits here for the better and I really enjoy that.
But perhaps the most startling example of changing views and habits is in my home State of Texas – where it is now quite common to see hybrid and electric vehicles on the road. It’s great to know the oil state is going electric – who would have thought? Even my husband’s big SUV may soon be replaced with a hybrid vehicle!
What makes me most hopeful is that habits can change. And those habits that impact the sustainability of our planet have to be good ones – and that is something everyone can do and make a difference.
We have to do the right thing now – for us and for future generations.
And we have to do it because it is the right thing to do - plain and simple."