In March 2019, Avieco delivered a series of workshops to provide BDO UK staff with the expertise and tools necessary to support their company’s ambitious environmental goals. In partnership with Avieco, BDO has long demonstrated leadership within the professional services industry through the measurement and reduction of the company’s carbon impact footprint. Some of BDO’s key achievements in recent years include establishing an ISO 14001 compliant environmental management system, advancing to quarterly carbon reporting and moving into several BREAAM-accredited offices.

At the heart of this impressive sustainability agenda is Rick Gourley, BDO UK’s Property and Facilities Manager. Recognising the importance of collaboration in driving environmental performance, Rick is working to establish an ‘Environmental Champions Network’ across the company. Avieco’s environmental training workshop was an initiative to introduce the 40 newly appointed champions to BDO’s environmental goals and aspirations. The workshop offered champions an opportunity to meet each other, engage and share ideas and discuss the way ahead for sustainability at BDO.

At the workshop, I got a chance to speak with Rick Gourley, who’s unconditional passion for improving the status quo and making BDO a great place for both its employees and clients was self-evident. I was truly inspired by Rick’s constant endeavour to keep BDO ahead of the game – from effectively implementing environmental management systems, developing champions network, empowering staff to foreseeing future opportunities.

Rick Gourley has been at BDO UK for the six years and is responsible for ISO 14001:2015 Internal Audits, supplier and contractor management, health and safety (H&S) audits as well as National H&S and Environmental Management for 16 Offices.

Here is Rick’s take on BDO’s role as a responsible business, the company’s prevailing challenges and future aspirations.

What are the biggest environmental challenges faced by BDO?

Our biggest challenge is to satisfy BDO’s business needs while making sure that we are compliant with the legislation both on the environmental and health & safety front. For a long time, we were voluntarily submitting our carbon report, but the energy and carbon reporting has now become mandatory for companies as SECR comes into effect this year.  We know there is potential for change when Brexit happens, but we don’t see how it will impact us regulatory wise, whether we will need to comply with the EU or the U.N, who is going to set the standards?  Uncertainty around the legislation and future sustainability requirements is our biggest challenge at the moment.

What are you doing to meet those challenges?

To meet these challenges, we engage with partners such as Avieco to help ensure that as a company we are compliant and are up to date with any regulatory change. The new environmental champions, who will be the ‘go-to’ personnel for environmental matters in their regions, will further help us achieve our environmental objectives. But we’ve also got to look at what our clients are doing. The feedback we get from our existing and potential clients will tell us whether we are taking the right actions.

What about getting stakeholder buy in?

The ethos is coming from the top. Andy Butterworth, our Chief Operating Officer, is quite passionate about BDO’s environmental agenda and he, along with the leadership team, want to ensure that BDO continues to be a leader in environmental performance. So, my challenge is to rope in other people within the business to look at how we can continue to improve on what we are currently doing.

How does BDO look to distinguish itself from its competitors in terms of environmental action?

We are more people focused. We look at what our people are doing rather than what the world thinks of us. I spend a large portion of my day empowering people. It’s very much what this firm is about.

How engaged are BDO employees on environmental issues?

One of the things that came out of the workshop is, though our staff have some knowledge this isn’t enough. We need to expand our internal communications and make better use of Yammer (BDO’s internal communications platform), to educate and engage our environmental champions network. I would like to improve employee engagement in environmental matters within the organisation.

What are you trying to achieve from the network of environmental champions across the business?

We are trying to achieve results across four key areas –

1. Impart wider environmental knowledge across the organisation

2. Achieve better engagement with our employees

3. Improve our office environments

4. Deliver better engagement with suppliers & contractors

What are your future initiatives?

Some of the future initiatives that we are considering include CDP reporting, ISO 50001 accreditation, and opportunities such as becoming signatories to the U.N Global Compact.  We want to strengthen our clients’ and employee confidence in our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and achieving a higher level of sustainability.

I have to think about my role as well, as I am not always going to be here. I want to ensure that anyone who comes behind me can carry forward and drive the initiatives. We have talented resources who have great potential to become facilities managers in the future. We need to hire people who can bring in fresh ideas either from their past work experiences or through creativity that we can use to improve our existing processes and to give BDO a greater competitive advantage over our competitor firms.

You are obviously very passionate about sustainability, where did this come from?

I am actually from an army background. Within the forces, you’re always looking for better ways of doing things. So, it’s this innate process that has always been in me to constantly improve the status quo. Even at my own home, I am seeing better ways of saving energy, and I am already looking at solar panelling on my shed roof. I have also got a caravan that has got a solar panel on the roof, so the batteries are always charging. All my lighting in the garden is solar.

What’s your proudest moment working at BDO?

Moving to the new version of ISO 140001 and getting it right at the first attempt.  When I joined BDO, the company was three years into the accreditation. I was able to improve on the standards of the old version and map it successfully across to the new one. The new standard is more about doing than reporting.  To achieve this objective in the first year was quite a nice achievement and was the highlight of my time getting into the environmental side of the business.

What’s your ultimate goal for BDO?

Basically, to make sure that we are competitive and always ahead of the game.

If you weren’t at BDO what would you be doing?

Looking after greyhounds. I would love to run a kennels since I have a real passion for rescuing dogs. I’ve got two of my own, and when I get spare time, I’m up at the kennels.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

On a professional front, it is getting over the (environmental and H&S) audits! On a personal front – my partner and I have got a holiday planned in July, and we will be taking our new caravan out for its first long run. We are also planning a trip to New Orleans later this year, a city that we both visited last year and fell in love with.

Stay in the loop

more than a word.

We get that change is not easy. But we must be brave, challenge old ways, set new habits, embrace new thinking.