The Market Research Society, the UK professional body for research, insight, and analytics, is leading a Net Zero Pledge campaign which calls for research organisations and teams to be net zero by 2026. The Pledge was launched after the MRS Sustainability Council, established in 2020, was tasked with reviewing the sustainability issues facing the research sector. They found that the two key responsibilities of the research sector were to mitigate their impact on the environment and to help customers understand their own impact and recommend solutions.
Businesses can commit to the 4 key aims of the Net Zero Pledge:
- To ensure they are net zero by 2026
- To track and publish their carbon emissions and work to reduce and offset those emissions. This includes publishing these figures annually in the Industry Report.
- To collaborate across the research sector and beyond to share learning and best practice to help achieve these goals.
- To support and encourage conversations on sustainability and environmental issues from all viewpoints, including employees, partners and clients.
Dozens of firms have signed up the pledge since its launch in 2021, including leading firms such as Ipsos MORI and GfK. The groundswell of support for this climate initiative demonstrates largescale support in the research sector for going green, but on a practical level, what does this mean?
The MRS have put together a guide for research organisations to help them on their sustainability journey and to overcome some of the most common barriers. Their guidance includes:
- Finding climate champions
With the recognition that the development of sustainable business practice suffers from being ‘everybody’s second priority’, the MRS recommends that businesses put together a dedicated team to work on strategy and to ensure that time is specifically allocated to the project. The team should consist of people with different skillsets and responsibilities, including leadership, finance and facilities managers, to ensure that a range of skills are available to make the project a success.
- Green your supply chain
The MRS advises that there are huge opportunities to make sustainable choices beyond what you may traditionally consider. Whilst flights and energy usage are obvious areas for improvement, wider business spending on areas such as staff entertainment, client gifts and even pensions are invaluable areas to improve your carbon impact. Working with suppliers who are also actively working towards a net zero target is another way to achieve this goal. Ultimately, ‘greening your supply chain’ should lead to sustainability being embedded into purchasing decisions for each business.
- Educating your staff
The MRS discusses the ‘say-do’ gap between sustainable values and unsustainable behaviour, that even people who are concerned about the environment may perpetuate. They have also identified a gap in knowledge, with many people being misinformed about the impacts of, and solutions to, the climate crisis. Businesses should therefore make a commitment to educate staff on the climate crisis so they can be actively engaged in the work towards a more sustainable workplace.
The guidance set out by the MRS constitutes an important starting point for businesses keen to start their sustainability journey, and hopefully by 2026, we will see real change across the research sector.