Maitland/AMO Sustain – In the Hot Seat with Mary Goudie, Baroness

by Zara de Belder | 8th September 2020

Welcome to ‘In the Hot Seat’, a fortnightly series where we tackle some of the biggest questions facing sustainability professionals across a range of industries. We’ll also explore what sustainability means and how it is interpreted across different sectors and geographies.

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This week, Zara de Belder, Head of Maitland/AMO Sustain caught up with Baroness Mary Goudie, member of the British House of Lords and a global advocate for the rights of women and children. Baroness Goudie works globally to promote gender equality, women’s rights and peacebuilding.

1. Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals aims to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.’ What practical steps can companies take to address this goal?

Take responsibility at every level to ensure that your company is having a positive impact on the world. You will know where your company has weak links in their supply chain, and where it will need tightening up.

On women in leadership – it’s important to ensure that your company has the right mentoring/ development structures in place to create a fair pipeline where men and women have the same opportunities.

2. Do you think Covid-19 might reverse decades of progress in the fight against poverty and exacerbate gender inequality?

There is a huge risk moving forward from Covid-19 on gender equality. The goals that we have achieved are at risk of being lost as women are taking on extra chores at home (childcare/ teaching/ extra tuition). Therefore, it must be ensured that there is support from the companies that they work for. Women owners of SMEs should be supported by clients paying their bills on time and banks should provide support in the form of small grants.

It is very important that women and girls do not lose out on opportunities of an education as they take on more responsibility at home or are forced to work to pay family bills, and that this should not endanger their education.  It is vital that governments around the world ensure education is a priority as it is also a human right. It is important that governments have legislation in place to stop FGM, child marriage and violence.

3. Nearly two hundred years after Britain formally abolished slavery, victims of modern slavery still exist. How can we effectively fight this complex and challenging issue?

It is more important than ever and with rising homelessness and job losses that we must be aware that people can preyed on and slip through the gaps.

Governments and local authorities must be supported through the Slavery Act to ensure that suppliers are inspected regularly, without notice.  In particular, agriculture, catering, and factories should be subject to further scrutiny.

We have seen, in many cases, women and men working in deplorable situations in the garment industry. We must work with national and local policy makers and police to address these issues.

4. If you have one piece of advice for someone considering a career in responsible investing, what would it be?

To make environmental, social and governance considerations (ESG) an integral part of decision-making process at the heart of any investment strategy.

5. Finally, what does sustainability mean to you?

The future depends on sustainable work that must be incorporated into daily life around energy saving, protecting the planet, avoiding plastics, and ensuring that sustainability is considered in all long-term decision making of companies, and the world.

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About the Author

Zara de Belder

Zara is Head of Maitland/AMO Sustain and specialises in ESG communications and strategy development

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