At this year’s Careers event, there were many sessions available for the attendees to take part in. One session of the day was ‘Sustainability Matters!’ hosted by PM Society Sustainability Interest group Co-lead, Lyn Cruickshank.

Sustainability has increasingly become an important topic within the industry and is something potential new clients are now looking for. Lyn Cruickshank, managing director of Wallace Health, covers how we can make the industry more sustainable and why this is something you should look for when researching and interviewing for employers.

The session began with the audience being asked ‘How important do they feel sustainability is when considering your career?’. With a large portion of the audience raising their hand, Lyn was ready to inform them of the importance of this topic and what these organisations should be doing so that they’re aware of what to look for in employers.

What is the pharmaceutical industry doing to support sustainability?

Pharmaceutical companies are typically global organisations that were established a long time ago.  They will find it challenging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions; however, they are committed to it, but this doesn’t happen overnight.

Many have committed to net zero by mid-century, which means they will not be putting out any further greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

What can small – medium organisations within the industry do to support sustainability?

A lot of clients now demand the support of agencies to help them meet their net zero goals as the agency is part of the chain of supply within the organisation, so this responsibility also falls to them. Agencies need to demonstrate that they meet sustainability criteria to work with these pharmaceutical companies, which shows how important this target is to them.

There are two main changes that agencies can make to achieve this.

Change the way we work

  • Agencies can try to reduce the amount of travel if unnecessary, for example, instead of flying big groups across the world for a meeting that can take place over video calls.
  • Switch to renewable energy – use offices that only use renewable energy. A lot of offices are available that offer this.
  • Reduce waste!
  • Reduce the carbon impact of our activities – A lot of events take place in this industry which can have a big carbon footprint, so we should try to make the events as sustainable as possible.

Ad net zero is an initiative set up by the Advertising Association and represents the whole of the ad industry in the UK and many of the big agencies help to fund this. They actively try and reduce the impact of the sector through a series of initiatives. But there are many other ways that agencies can sign up to net zero.

Change the type of work that we do

  • Sustainable production – Film is a big way to advertise in the industry, but it can be very costly to the carbon footprint as you may have film crew travelling to locations, equipment being used or shipped, and much more.

AdGreen is an organisation that many companies have now signed up to which offers training on sustainability and has a carbon calculator where you can input your production and the way it’s being done to inform you of the carbon output from your intended shoot, and ways you can reduce this.

  • Media choices – TV and outdoor advertising isn’t as much of a worry to the pharmaceutical sector as generally they can’t market directly to the public, but there are other simple measures such as fixing a slow loading website, which can reduce the carbon footprint of your campaign.
  • Behaviour change – In advertising, when you’re working with a client you will receive a brief that covers the challenges, what they want to address and details of the work they want you to undertake. Sometimes, the brief will ask for something that isn’t very sustainable. In this situation, we should be encouraged to go back to the client with suggestions on how to make this more sustainable. An alternative option would be to introduce sustainability objectives into the project, something that initiatives like #changethebrief are driving.

The Sustainability toolkit was created by the Sustainability Interest Group to help educate agencies of every size to make changes to the way they operate and reduce the carbon impact of our sector. The toolkit can be found on the PM Society website.