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The Sustainable Studio

Part 2: Focusrite Group By Sam Inglis
Published July 2022

Andy Land is Head of Sustainability at Focusrite Group.Andy Land is Head of Sustainability at Focusrite Group.

One of the audio industry’s largest manufacturing groups is taking the lead in tackling green issues.

“It may seem insignificant to spend time working out the footprint of a surface‑mount resistor,” admits Andy Land. “But without doing the legwork, you can’t combine this with sales data and say quantitively whether or not it’s an area of concern.”

At the time of writing, Andy is a year into his role as Head of Sustainability at Focusrite Group, encompassing brands such as Focusrite, ADAM Audio, Martin Audio, Novation and Sequential. The position was created partly in response to internal employee pressure, and partly to anticipate sustainability requirements that will soon be mandatory for large companies. It’s a challenge not only because the job is important and expectations are high, but because it’s so new.

Getting The Message Across

At first, quite a bit of Andy’s time was spent communicating with other staff. Focusrite is an organisation with several hundred employees, and the sustainability agenda affects all of them to a greater or lesser extent. Happily, awareness of and concern for environmental issues was already high within the company. “Getting people onboard was one of the first things, but it’s a pretty easy sell here,” Andy says. “I’ve made repeated company presentations, even up to CEO level and the PLC Board, to reassure people I’m not a ceremonial role and ensure that I have the mandate to proceed.”

Andy is well aware that the sort of change the industry needs is only possible through a co-operative team effort. In a sense, his function is to be a catalyst for wider organisational change, rather than a lone voice telling others what to do. To this end, he’s begun two related initiatives. One is to ensure that sustainability is embedded into job descriptions and company processes, so that ‘key stakeholders’ in different departments now have a formal duty to consider sustainability when making decisions. The other has been to beef up Focusrite’s existing ‘green team’; previously a volunteer‑led staff group, this is now an official organisation within the company, with appointed members and clear responsibilities.

Slippery Scopes

As a publicly listed company, Focusrite don’t only have a responsibility to the planet. They also have duties to shareholders, one of which is to anticipate any risks to their business posed by climate change and other environmental issues. The company’s latest annual report thus includes a Materiality Assessment as part of their commitment to meeting Environmental, Social and Governance standards. This, says Andy, confirms that climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are real issues for Focusrite, with the potential to harm the business in the medium and long term.

Governments around the world are starting to enforce compliance with sustainability frameworks, and the UK government is no exception. From April 6th this year, for example, a range of conditions based around employee numbers and turnover will see many UK‑registered companies (typically those with more than 500 staff or a turnover greater than £500 million) required to state climate‑related risks and opportunities in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate‑related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Large companies are also expected to audit and report greenhouse gas emissions within three ‘scopes’ defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Scope 1 covers greenhouse gases released directly through a company’s own activity. This includes, for example, any carbon dioxide emitted by on‑site power plants and petrol or diesel vehicles owned by the company. Needless to say, some types of business have a much heavier Scope 1 footprint than others. Airlines and haulage businesses, for example, typically have very high Scope 1 emissions, whereas financial institutions or online businesses might not. It’s also fairly easy for some companies to place Scope 1 emissions at arm’s length, for example by outsourcing logistics to a third party. This makes the emissions someone else’s responsibility, but doesn’t necessarily do anything to reduce them.

The GHGP also classes indirect emissions in two further ‘scopes’. Scope 2 emissions are those incurred in the generation of any electricity, heat or steam that is purchased by a company. As such, these should be reasonably straightforward to audit, at least on paper; most companies have only one supplier of electricity in each region where they...

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