Despite the challenges businesses have been facing into as a result of the current ‘lockdown’ situation, Provident Financial Group has, throughout March and April 2019 had environmental audits conducted across its Bradford, London, Chatham and Petersfield sites that have enabled it to maintain certification to the internationally-recognised environmental management standard ISO 14001 – this involved getting the offices of its vehicle finance business Moneybarn in Petersfield, Hampshire, accredited to the standard for the first time.
Since 2011, Provident Financial Group’s Bradford head office has been accredited to ISO 14001. The standard itself is a 44-page document of requirements which are based on the ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ approach and an overarching specification that an environmental management system (EMS) should be established, continually improved and documented to help reduce environmental impacts and ensure compliance with the growing corpus of environmental legislation.
Gaining certification standard involved engaging an accredited third-party auditor who assessed whether Provident’s EMS met the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard. This usually involves the auditor meeting management in person, reviewing documentation and undertaking site visits. However, due to the restrictions that have been introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Provident’s 2020 environmental audits were carried remotely using software that enabled the auditor to interview management, access relevant documentations and see aspects of the company’s operations. Following the audits, Provident’s EMS was certified to the ISO 14001 standard which enables the company to continue to: Demonstrate compliance with current and future statutory and regulatory requirements; increase leadership involvement and engagement of employees; improve company reputation and the confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication; provide a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs; and encourage better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organisation’s business systems.
Head of Sustainability, Provident Financial plc, Rob Lawson said “Ensuring that our 2020 environmental audit cycle went ahead despite the current challenges is a great achievement and is testament to the hard work and commitment of our colleagues, and the innovative mindset and adaptability of our auditor. In 2018, Vanquis Bank’s offices in London and Chatham were assessed to meet the standard and, this year, we brought Moneybarn into the scope for assessment, meaning all Provident’s main office locations are now covered by the ISO 14001 standard. This will enable us to continue to systematically manage and reduce our impact on the environment, which is an increasingly important issue for colleagues, investors and other key stakeholders.”