The Brief

Unity Trust Bank is an ethical bank whose lending helps organisations make a positive social and environmental difference in their communities. In 2021, Unity Trust Bank published its Impact Report which established its framework for lending in line with many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Of particular focus for the organisation is supporting clean energy, net-zero, and environmental projects.

Carbon Literacy Training seeks to increase awareness of climate change and mobilise action amongst individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various education-based approaches. All individuals to undertake the training become certified as carbon literate citizens through the submission of an action plan on which learners commit to 2 actions to reduce their carbon footprints.

As a result of upskilling their staff on Carbon Literacy through online training modules, Unity Trust Bank originally achieved bronze Carbon Literacy Organisation (CLO) accreditation in 2019. As part of the organisation’s objective to become a higher-level accredited CLO, Unity Trust Bank commissioned WRM to develop a bespoke Carbon Literacy training package and deliver this in a day-long session to 20 colleagues working from across the bank.

The Solution

WRM worked to develop a comprehensive training pack for Unity Trust Bank. This included the foundational modules of the Carbon Literacy standard, such as climate science, climate change impacts, and action planning. WRM also worked to include tailored content within the training pack. For example, strong attention was paid to the climate impacts which would affect the organisation locally at their office in Birmingham. The pack also covered the ways in which the finance sector is affected by and can influence climate change, and specific actions that finance professionals can take as part of their roles. Upon completion of the first draft of the training pack, WRM sent the materials to The Carbon Literacy Project for review, before feedback was incorporated into the final pack which was successfully accredited.

WRM then delivered a day’s worth of training in an online mode to the 20 Unity Trust Bank colleagues. With regular breakout groups and interactive activities, WRM designed the training session to foster opportunities for discussion and collaboration between colleagues. As a small group of Unity Trust Bank colleagues were participating in the training from the company’s office, WRM worked with Unity Trust Bank to organise a suitable breakout group structure. Those colleagues physically located in the same room were given the opportunity to have their own discussion, and other colleagues joining from home locations were randomly assigned to 2 other virtual rooms. All discussions were facilitated by members of WRM’s Carbon Literacy training team, who helped to direct conversation and retrieve thoughts and opinions regarding subject matter and suggestions on what could be done to address the climate change problem. These were then recorded in a document which was finalised and issued to Unity Trust Bank following the training course.

The Outcome

The delivery of Carbon Literacy training to colleagues at Unity Trust Bank resulted in the successful certification of all individuals in Carbon Literacy. It has also helped Unity Trust Bank get one step closer to achieving silver CLO status. Feedback retrieved from Unity Trust Bank suggested that the training led to colleagues feeling an increased level of interest and confidence in discussing climate change in the workplace.

Organisations in the finance sector, including banks, are increasingly regarding the Carbon Literacy standard as one with solid credentials for those looking to take a reputable approach on sustainable behaviour change and one which provides substantive outcomes amongst employees. The range of actions pledged by the colleagues involved in WRM’s training sessions with Unity Trust Bank will assist them in reducing their carbon emissions in the workplace and are expected to improve the culture of sustainability at the bank.

For further information about the benefits that Carbon Literacy can bring to your organisation and the various training packages and formats on offer, please contact our service lead, Matthew Greenhill, at matthew.greenhill@wrm-ltd.co.uk.

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