Global Health, Safety and Sustainability Associate Director, Fidelity International
Ben Clifford’s favourite album is Stevie Wonder’s seminal disc Songs In the Key of Life – as well it might be, because every beat of his career has been linked to themes of being and living. Indeed, he has made a career in sustainability across several industries.
Things have changed since those early days of fad sustainability when people thought adherence to it was a choice.
“The discussions I have are very different to 15 years ago,” Ben reflects. “It was very much a battle to get senior management to understand why we were trying to do certain initiatives and why it's important to manage our environmental impacts. I think there is that realisation now that it is important for business!”
“I think that the difference now is that the conversation is much more about how we get there and what we need to do. There's that realisation it is an important aspect for any business. That’s certainly been my experience at Fidelity.”
One of Ben’s crowning achievements is bringing Fidelity employees with him and watching their passion for sustainability grow with each unfolding initiative.
“A lot of people understand that it is a big issue,” says Ben. “Whether it's climate change or biodiversity, they want to discover more about mitigating some of these impacts. We want to bring them on the journey with us, explain what goals we are aiming for, what they can do to help but also emphasise how it can benefit their normal day-to-day lives.”
Years and years
“I have had quite a long career in sustainability.”
This is an understatement from Ben. He has spent his entire 15-year career in sustainability. In many ways he is ‘Mr Sustainability’, having worked in manufacturing, defence, transportation, technology and now in financial services.
His entire working life has been devoted to the survival of the planet – an unthinkable career path 20 years ago.
During this significant chapter, he has observed and influenced a cultural phenomenon as businesses and individuals have become reconciled to the seriousness of the situation.
Ben says: “The focus in terms of sustainability has changed over the years. Over time, moving into different industries and different sectors, it has shifted. People started to realise the products that they make also have an impact on the environment and in some cases a much more significant impact than the direct operations of the business.”
“I have witnessed that progress, especially since I've moved into financial services, where there is a more holistic approach to sustainability.”
Ben is very much a professional of our times – the key exponent of green virtues and the symbol of what a company can reach for. His reason for being is so that mankind can continue being for at least another billion years.
No pressure then.
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