By Leonardo UK CEO and Chair, Clive Higgins
I am incredibly proud that Leonardo is one of the inaugural signatories of the new UK Defence ESG Charter published today, alongside ADS, Airbus, Babcock, BAE Systems, MBDA, QinetiQ and Thales.
The charter represents an important step forward in highlighting opportunities for us to strengthen our deep commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) as a company and as a collaborative collective.
- Climate transition and clean tech – reducing carbon emissions, in line with Britain’s 2050 net zero target, and developing innovative new technologies to improve how we meet future defence and security challenges.
- Societal impact – closing Britain’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills gap, attracting, developing and retaining a new generation of diverse talent, and building positive social impact through our value chains and in our local communities.
- Governance and ethics – adhering to the highest standards, while operating within a highly regulated sector, building greater cyber resilience, improving export controls, and supporting economic growth across the UK.
The Defence & Security sector has a vital role to play in ESG. Our national security underpins our freedom as a society and lays the foundations for economic, social and environmental progress. As a major investor in UK research and technology, our industry will be able to provide great life opportunities for the nation’s next generation of scientists and engineers, while embracing the tools of the digital age as a route towards a more secure and sustainable future.
We recognise that prosperity rests on our ability to create sustainable technology, so we will drive forward innovation for new products and technologies to future-proof our industry. As a business, we will continue to invest in digitalisation, advanced research and the latest manufacturing techniques to enable us to rise to this challenge, in line with our net zero objectives.
At Leonardo, we have a rich heritage of educational partnerships – supporting a far-reaching STEM Ambassador programme, collaborating with academic institutions, and employing thousands of apprentices and graduates over the years. These initiatives play a significant role in the growth of our business and address the wider need to grow the UK’s pool of engineering resources.
Another key tenet of ESG at Leonardo is inclusion and diversity, and some of our most impactful work in the communities surrounding our sites has been in bringing career opportunities and skills development to areas where they have not existed in the past. We feel a sense of responsibility to engage and nurture individuals and communities that have been underrepresented in our industry, as we know that a culture of inclusion creates an environment for greater collaboration, innovation and opportunities to develop as an organisation.
Leonardo has a supply chain of more than 2,100 companies in the UK, including 1,400 SMEs. As part of our provision of mentoring and support for an ethical supply chain, I and my team will encourage as many of our suppliers as possible to sign up to this new ESG Charter to further reinforce the expectations that we set for our suppliers to pursue a sustainable future.