True to our key values of integrity and stewardship, we want to do all we can to protect the future of our planet. It’s no longer just the right thing to do, but a moral imperative. If we want our children, young colleagues and all future generations to live their lives without the burden of irreversible climate change, we as businesses need to do our part by committing to a more sustainable future.

In 2021, our UK team committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030. To the date of this report, we have already achieved a 56% reduction on our 2020 pre-pandemic baseline. 

Our carbon reduction plan sets out a roadmap that will guide us in reducing our emissions as much as possible by 2030, mainly by cutting non-essential travel and energy usage in our buildings and utilising green energy sources where we can. Only then will we offset the emissions we really cannot avoid with an accredited carbon offset programme. We have also signed up to the United Nations Global Compact, which further demonstrates our commitment to meaningful progress.  

We report and record emissions in line with the published reporting standard for Carbon Reduction Plans and the Green House Gas (GHG) Reporting Protocol corporate standard, which can be seen in our latest Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting figures. We measure our direct (Scope 1), indirect (Scope 2) and value chain (Scope 3) emissions to help us understand how our people and suppliers are impacting our carbon footprint. 

Our environmental policy guides us on:

  • eliminating gas entirely from our business by 2030;
  • reducing the amount of electricity we use and sourcing all of our electricity from renewable sources;
  • cutting down the frequency of business travel by vehicles, trains and aeroplanes;
  • making sure our office fitouts and buildings are environmentally friendly;
  • reducing waste;
  • reusing what we can; and
  • recycling what we can’t.

To achieve our goal, we have set the following emissions targets, based on our 2020 baseline figures:

We’re confident that adopting an agile working model and making further investments in technology will help us reduce our emissions further. To make sure everyone has genuinely useful virtual interactions, we’re reviewing and upgrading the quality of our digital platforms on an ongoing basis. Our work has already received recognition, as we received the Bronze Award for Sustainability as part of our latest EcoVadis submission. For our recent office refurbishments, we have been awarded SKA Gold in recognition.

In addition to our high-level work, we have introduced several initiatives and projects to support our sustainability efforts on the ground. Highlights this year include:

  • sustainable September, which asked all staff to make one planet-focused pledge for the month – like eating less meat, reducing car journeys or going vegan. To set an example, Executive Chairman Kevin didn’t drive his car for a month;
  • an EV scheme that helps employees buy an electric vehicle using a salary sacrifice arrangement;
  • ESG-focussed training, developed to help our people understand why it’s important to our clients and in a broader sense; and
  • ‘Clean up canals’ project in collaboration with the Canal River Trust, where our people spent time cleaning up canals in Birmingham.
Kevin O'Connor
Executive Chairman
We are a people-based business, and our employees has a role to play in reducing our carbon footprint. One of the most important steps we are taking is to educate ourselves and think carefully about even the smallest parts of our day – like turning off our computers each evening. It’s not just about innovation or technology – it’s about everyone making small incremental changes to support our efforts.

Case Study – Corporate travel

Alex Tait, our Regional Office Managing Partner for Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Northeast of England, covers a large operational area. Pre-pandemic, it wasn’t unusual for Alex to cover hundreds of miles every week by car and plane, travelling from areas as remote as the Shetland Islands to our head office in London. Even though Alex was doing excellent work, the situation was far from ideal – particularly due to the size of his individual carbon footprint. And Alex certainly wasn’t the only person at RSM to be doing this. 

‘Effectively, I used to do all my management and other meetings face-to-face, meaning a lot of travelling to other offices,’ explained Alex.

Once pandemic restrictions hit, Alex and others in a similar position were forced to move all meetings to virtual platforms. Despite the unexpected and rather sudden shift, the lasting results have been astounding.  

'Although this change wasn’t one we’d ever have anticipated, it has revolutionised how I work. Virtual meetings have completely changed the game for RSM and me. My travel time, costs and carbon footprint dropped by around 60% since 2019 and my work/life balance has improved considerably. We know that meeting face-to-face is sometimes important, and there’s certainly a time and place for a good old-fashioned coffee, but we’re encouraging our people to see them as an exception rather than the rule.’

In 2020, our people travelled over 5.4m miles in our cars on firm-wide business. This dropped to virtually zero in 2021 and rose to 1.1m miles in 2022 as we emerged from the pandemic. Similarly, we travelled just under 4m miles by aeroplane in the year to March 2020. This dropped drastically to only around 220,000 miles in 2022. While we do expect some upturn in travel as we fully emerge from the pandemic, we are aiming to maintain this shift in travel patterns in the post-pandemic world. 

Impact statement

At RSM our strong values are what drive us to make a real, lasting impact.