It takes a highly talented and diverse team to be able to deliver everything we do across our consultancy, Sustainability Tool, and Supply Chain Sustainability School – and so, we wanted to introduce you to the people behind the scenes who inspire sustainable business every day.
Introducing our Modern Slavery, Human Rights, and Social Value consultant, and Homes and Construction Sector Manager for the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Emma-Jane Allen.
I have two roles right now and split my time between the two – consultant and trainer in Modern Slavery / Human Rights / Social Value and Sector Manager – Homes and Construction, for the award-winning Supply Chain Sustainability School.
I’ve been with Action Sustainability since we launched as a social enterprise in 2006, with funding from Defra. Our remit was to disseminate the work of the UK Government’s Sustainable Procurement Task Force, working primarily with Central and Local Government departments. At that time very few people had heard the phrase, ‘sustainable procurement’. I lost count of the times people would say, “But sustainable procurement of what? Do you mean just buying eco-friendly products?” Errrr, if only it were so simple!
I’ve always been passionate about human rights and in the last few years have been fortunate to be work with a range of businesses across the built environment to help identify and prevent exploitation, and in it’s most extreme form, modern slavery. Previous roles at Action Sustainability include Project Manager, Senior Project Manager and Business Manager (managing a team of sustainable procurement consultants) – all in the field of development and delivery of sustainable procurement and sustainable supply chains strategies for clients.
Most days I’m delivering virtual presentations or training workshops for consultancy clients and School Partners. A glance at my diary for the coming weeks includes delivery of Modern Slavery training workshops for Ministry of Justice procurement teams, a Modern Slavery webinar for London based local authorities, a training workshop for SMEs on Social Value, a presentation about the School’s People Matter Charter, and an intro to Modern Slavery for National Highways just to name a few.
It’s important to keep the content up to date and reflective of the latest developments / challenges in the sector, so I try to spend 5 mins every day flicking through news bulletins and making notes of any relevant industry news to reflect in the training / presentation content.
From a School perspective, I am responsible for working with the Procurement/Commercial and Sustainability/HSQE leads from 30+ School Partners, which are predominantly UK homebuilders and main contractors, to ensure they get value from the School. I work with them and their teams to develop strategies and action plans on how they can use the School as an enabler to deliver their wider sustainability priorities. So, a typical day will always feature calls, emails or meetings with them to review engagement, discuss priorities and plan future engagement.
As Sector Manager for Construction and Homes, I’m responsible for ensuring we deliver the business plan each year. I work closely with colleagues on this, so always spend time each day either speaking or emailing others in the team to catch up, share ideas, and agree actions.
I’ve been with Action Sustainability since day one and I’ve worked with our Director Ian Heptonstall for nearly 20 years. Why am I still here? I love what I do and I love working for a company that helps its clients and their supply chains to be more sustainable and drive real change.
It’s a fast-paced environment, and we’re considered leaders in our sector. Everyone is encouraged to carve out their own careers and is supported in doing so. If you’re passionate about sustainability, there are endless opportunities for you to learn, develop your skills, and help grow the business.
With two young children, work/life balance is important to me, and the flexibility Action Sustainability offers is a huge benefit. The team understand that sometimes, life gets in the way of work, and that’s OK. For example, I’ve never felt uncomfortable declining a meeting or moving things around because it’s my son’s parents evening or sports day.
Ensuring a just transition to net zero that is fair to everyone.
If you’ve been to one of our Modern Slavery webinars , you’ll know that the example we always use to bring this to life and highlight the complexities of the challenge is that of solar panels. Solar panels have a role to play in mitigating climate change, yet a study by Sheffield Hallam University found that the solar industry is particularly vulnerable to forced labour, i.e modern slavery.
You can read the report if you’re interested in finding out more – ‘In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains’.