We are Vista - Small company winner of Business in the Community's Responsible Business of the Year Award

Award Type: 

Winner Business in the Community's Responsible Business of the Year (small company)

The creative communications agency has integrated a range of environmental goals into the business, and given staff ‘headspace’ to think more creatively about how to stay on top of the company’s negative impacts.

Vista's achievements in 2016

  • Cut its carbon footprint by almost 44%
  • Cut the carbon associated with business travel by 38%
  • Flew the flag for equality, with a 49/51 split of female/male staff. In fact, 66 per cent of senior managers are women.
  • Reduced waste by 27%

In the last decade, sustainability has become an increasingly integral part of doing business across many sectors. For an organisation to balance their financial, environmental and social risks and opportunities, it is widely accepted that sustainability must move from being an ‘add-on’ to being a core part of how and why companies do what they do. But in an ever-evolving world, it is easier said than done and despite a huge increase in communications and corporate responsibility reporting attempting to describe sustainability as just ‘the way we do business,’ there still appears to be a mismatch between intention and reality in practice.

One company that believes it has the right strategy is Vista, a creative communications agency which help brands improve their performance and fulfil their potential using “intelligence and insight to make change happen through communications”.

“Our sustainable approach is what Vista has been built on. We believe implicitly in the power of our people to make a difference to everyone we deal with – our clients, our colleagues, our environment and our local communities – and at Vista every person is empowered to learn, innovate and drive change,” says managing director, James Wilkins.

Sustainability is what we’re built on. We’re proud to say in the last eight years we’ve invested over £1 million into our local communities and saved our clients £1.9m by working sustainably,

- James Wilkins,
Managing Director

The beginning

First, the basics. In 2016, the company:

  • Cut its carbon footprint by almost 44 per cent;
  • Reduced waste by 27 per cent;
  • Cut the carbon associated with business travel by 38 per cent;
  • Flew the flag for equality, with a 49/51 split of female/male staff. In fact, 66 per cent of senior managers are women.

These efforts – underpinned by accreditation to ISO certifications for quality (9001), environmental (14001), sustainable events (20121) and OHSAS 18001 (health & safety) – helped the business increase its score in the BITC Environment Index, last year achieving ‘Platinum’.

The company does a lot of exhibition work for clients, including Hewlett Packard, for which it has created an asset bank – meaning Vista catalogues and then store anything that can be reused and recycled for future event projects. This has cut waste significantly, saving HP thousands in the process. A similar archiving system will now be developed for other clients too.

Similarly, the £60,000 investment in a mobile application called Vantage is making its events more efficient. Now, delegate registration, schedules, event programmes, travel information, push notifications and feedback are all done without the need for print or paper.

People development key in sustainability thinking

But it is in the development of its people that it has made significant progress in embedding sustainability thinking. From initial employment offer, through induction, appraisals, company meetings and annual reviews, the business has processes in place to ensure the theme and concept of sustainability is integrated and upheld throughout as it tries to develop all of its employees to be comfortable and confident in talking about environmental and social issues. This manifests with a simple approach to all projects: To ‘Think’ about possible impact; ‘Plan’ to reduce impact; ‘Measure’ the impact our work has; ‘Improve’ on the impact for the next project.

Core commercial objectives focus driving sustainability 

It is an approach backed by core commercial objectives, with a focus on sustainability driving efficiency – whether through better processes and procedures – cost savings and employee engagement and development. Plus, clients want to work with “sustainable” suppliers; manage negative impacts and operating more responsibly enables the business to comply with legislation and achieve certifications that help us with pre-qualification questionnaires, tenders and pitches.

Vista says it has also seen “measurable results” from its community work too, fostering better relationships with neighbours and boosting its reputation.

Employees allowed 5% of work for development 

Its Headspace programme allows everyone 5 per cent of work time for their own development, including community outreach. As well as benefitting local communities, these activities encourage staff to bring a new perspective back into the business. In 2016, more than 1,200 hours of time was invested, equating to £60,000 of chargeable time.

Vista’s sustainability programme is run by health, safety, environment and quality manager – and managing director – Wilkins and the Board. But the company “actively encourages” employees to contribute to it. The Green Team, a group of 15 members of staff from all levels, meet monthly to input into the plans, give feedback and set up initiatives linked to the five-year plan or ad-hoc activities.

Enter the Responsible Business Awards 2018

- Private group -