Prof. Simon Pringle Sustainability Expert Podcast
3 min

Reassessing The ESG Hierarchy With Simon Pringle (Podcast)

Posted by Picture of Paul Holland Paul Holland

We chatted with Professor Simon Pringle about the future of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) for podcast episode 7.

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Professor Simon Pringle is an expert on sustainability and someone we've worked closely with on our carbon impact monitoring and reporting.

Simon has 28 years experience in commercial strategy, innovation and sustainability. He is an independent Coach and Management Consultant and was formerly Managing Director of Project Rome, a consultancy working with blue chip organisations and CleanTech innovators.

Key Takeaways

  • Gain an understanding of how sustainability practices have evolved over the last 30 years, with insights from Simon Pringle, a veteran in the field.
  • Learn about the significance of Governance (G), Social (S), and Environmental (E) factors in sustainability, and why sometimes it's more effective to consider them as GSE, especially in financial services.
  • Discover how government interventions and regulations are shaping the sustainability landscape, pushing organisations towards more stringent and tangible commitments.

Interview Summary

Paul: Welcome, Simon, to our latest "Sense of Identity" podcast. Let's delve into your extensive 30-year background in sustainability.

Simon: It's great to join you, Paul. Yes, my journey in this sector has been long and interconnected with many in this field.

Paul: You've been a pivotal figure in sustainability, contributing significantly, including at the CBI and IMech. Reflecting on your experience, how have you seen the sustainability sector evolve?

Simon: The sustainability landscape has continuously evolved, balancing regulatory compliance with non-compliance drivers. The increasing scrutiny, particularly in reporting and transparency requirements, is evident. However, the influence of non-regulatory factors like supply chain pressures and customer expectations is equally significant. The focus is now shifting towards a more integrated and governance-focused approach.

Paul: Considering the cascading effect of sustainability practices, do you feel this is reaching the grassroots level effectively?

Simon: While larger organisations have integrated sustainability well at their core, it's less pervasive at the operational edges. A major challenge is ensuring this commitment permeates the entire organization, influencing the day-to-day customer experience.

Paul: The role of governance seems critical in this scenario. Could you expand on the significance of governance in the ESG framework?

Simon: Certainly. Often we say ESG, but in many sectors, like financial services, reversing it to GSE (Governance, Social, Environment) makes more sense. Effective governance is the foundation for meaningful environmental and social programs. The interplay of these elements is crucial in shaping an organization's sustainability agenda.

Paul: On a broader scale, how do you see government interventions shaping sustainability efforts?

Simon: Government actions, like setting carbon reduction targets and enhancing sustainability disclosure standards, are vital. These interventions, along with industry-led initiatives like Science-Based targets, are pushing organisations towards more robust and tangible sustainability commitments.

Paul: Let's touch on a personal note. Could you share a bit about your passion for music?

Simon: Absolutely. I play bass and sing, currently part of a large rock gospel choir. Music has always been a significant part of my life.

Paul: Finally, if you could offer advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Simon: I'd advise focusing on what truly drives passion and energy. Being bold in expressing views and engaging deeply in inspiring activities is key to success and personal fulfillment.

Guest Bio

Simon served on the UK and Global boards of a large PLC and was a Partner at PIPC, an international change management firm.  He was then retained by BDO LLP, the world’s 5th largest accountancy firm, as Head of Sustainability and Innovation.

An Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh Business School, Simon is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House and specialises in the alignment of sustainability and regenerative business models with commercial strategy, brand and reputation.

Educated at the University of Durham and Imperial College, London, he is a Fellow of the RSA and is a Director of Solutions for the Planet (a not for profit focusing on children’s innovation). He is co-founder of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission and was part of the team that evolved the Integrated Reporting framework.

He is author of the IMechE guide to commercialising clean technology and designed the CBI innovation model. Alongside his role on the board of the Leeds City Region LEP, he served on the UK’s Food Economy Task Force. Simon is on the advisory panel for Cranfield University and the Customer Engagement Groups for Northern Gas Networks and Northern PowerGrid.


Originally posted on 05 05 23
Last updated on December 19, 2023

Posted by: Paul Holland

CEO and Founder of Beyond Encryption, Paul is an expert on digital identity, fintech, cyber security, and business. As a key driver behind the development of Webline, one of the UK’s most well-known comparison engines, Paul has vast experience in developing digital technologies and bringing them to market. Through Beyond Encryption’s Mailock, nigel and AssureScore solutions, he aims to make a positive impact by helping regulated businesses engage with customers while keeping their data secure.

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