How the Responsible Business Tracker® drives climate action

Post author image. Lucy Dwyer
Lucy Dwyer, Insights and Innovation Manager at Business in the Community (BITC), explains how the Responsible Business Tracker® can support your organisation to take climate action.

As responsible businesses prepare for the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26), taking place in Glasgow in November 2021, Lucy Dwyer, Insights and Innovation Manager at Business in the Community (BITC), explains how the Responsible Business Tracker® can drive improvements in your organisation’s approach to climate action.

Developed through consultation with over 200 businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government and international partners, BITC’s Responsible Business Tracker® (“the Tracker”) is an essential measurement tool for organisations looking to take responsible business seriously.

The Tracker is included in BITC membership, but is also available to non-member businesses looking to assess performance and progress against BITC’s Responsible Business Map, built on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals.

How the Responsible Business Tracker® supports climate action

The Responsible Business Tracker® has helped crystalise the issue in business terms, supporting business planning and prioritisation and the drive to define our own climate ambition.

Gemma Lacey, Director, Sustainability and Communications at Southern Co-operative

The climate crisis is affecting people and communities around the UK and globally. The Tracker provides a framework for businesses to assess how well they are embedding climate-related issues into their governance structures, strategic and financial decision making, measurement, disclosure and action. It enables responsible businesses to assess internal opportunities for change, and reflect on external trends and conditions that impact colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders. By identifying and analysing important issues, the Responsible Business Tracker® helps businesses to tactically and strategically prioritise actions that can drive improvement and work towards the long-term wellbeing of people and planet.

The climate action section of the Tracker is aligned to leading standards such as the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).

The Tracker can support your business to recognise the importance of a healthy environment to a sustainable future, and highlight the range of actions you can take to ensure your business plays its part in averting climate catastrophe, whilst delivering everyday benefits for employees. The ‘Healthy Environment’ sections of the Tracker consist of five key questions and BITC urges all businesses to consider their approach to climate action through these lenses:

  1. How is the business governing climate-related issues? This covers accountability & oversight, skills & capabilities, collaboration & partnerships.
  2. How is the business considering climate-related issues in strategy and risk? This covers identification and management of risks and opportunities; strategy development.
  3. How is the business measuring its performance around climate-related issues? This covers key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure inputs, outputs and impacts; setting targets.
  4. How is the business disclosing its activities and performance around climate-related issues? This covers internal and external disclosure; disclosure of progress, targets and impacts.
  5. What action has the business taken to make progress around climate-related issues? This covers steps the business has taken to make a positive change; alignment with best practice.

It is encouraging to see that increasing numbers of participating businesses in the Responsible Business Tracker® consider climate action as a highly material issue (46% in 2019 and 50% in 2021). Southern Co-op, which ranked climate action as highly material in the 2019 Tracker, has used the traction generated from the assessment to drive change. This includes investing in specialist resource and securing board and executive sponsorship; embedding climate action into decision making across the business including strategic programming, capital expenditure (CapEx) procurement processes; and embedding climate-related targets into some senior-level performance management.

Gemma Lacey, Director, Sustainability and Communications at Southern Co-operative said: “Climate change threatens every aspect of our lives – our economy, our prosperity and our wellbeing. Documentaries, news coverage and campaigning have all helped to raise public awareness, building momentum for the need for urgent action. This has provided important context and the Tracker has helped crystalise the issue in business terms, supporting business planning and prioritisation and the drive to define our own climate ambition.”

Alignment between the Responsible Business Tracker® and the CDP Climate Change questionnaire

BITC encourages businesses to transparently and publicly communicate their climate action activities through CDP. As part of continuous development and to reduce reporting burden for Tracker participants, the climate action section of the Tracker has been mapped to the CDP Climate Change questionnaire, achieving over 75% alignment across the content. This means organisations can use their latest CDP submission to inform their responses to the Responsible Business Tracker® Climate Action section.

Why the climate crisis is everyone’s business

BITC’s Challenge 2030 campaign calls on businesses to put tackling the climate crisis at the heart of building back responsibly after COVID-19. This will enable us to build the resilience of communities and together make the climate crisis history.

Business has a responsibility to go beyond a “do no harm” model and restore nature in the face of the ecological crisis, referred to as the sixth mass extinction. The value of nature to business goes beyond responsible business practice. It is essential to long-term resilience in the face of climate change.

Challenge 2030 calls for bold leadership from business to help make the climate crisis history, by asking business to increase:

  • the scale of ambition in climate action plans, using Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to embed risks and opportunities into core strategy
  • the speed with which net zero will be achieved, setting ambitious targets aligned with the UN’s Race to Zero campaign
  • The scope of influence of the business by developing and implementing a strategy in collaboration with diverse stakeholders.

Become a more responsible business. Get involved today

By participating in the Responsible Business Tracker®, your business will benefit from decades of expertise, and have the opportunity to compare your progress to leading peers, so you can accurately assess the impacts of your climate action plans. With support from BITC’s Tracker team, you can access leading-edge insights, and tailored advice and support, to support your strategic environmental ambitions.

what if taking action on the climate was everyone’s business?