ESG Matters: McLaren’s race to zero emissions part two

ESG Matters bonus episode transcript: McLaren’s race to zero emissions, part 2

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Speaker 1:
Ashurst is proud to be the official legal services partner of the McLaren group, who share our passion for excellence, commitment to innovation and ambition for a more sustainable future, together we are driving extraordinary performance.

Welcome to part two of our conversation with Tim Bampton, chief communications officer at McLaren racing. Tim is joining us today remotely from Monaco is a racing season heats up. So thank you Tim, for making time in your busy schedule for us. If you missed part one, I encourage you to go back and listen to the episode where we discussed the F1 strategic imperative to have a zero emission formula one world championship by 2030. The role that McLaren has as an innovator and sustainability leader in motor sport and the other ways McLaren is minimizing its environmental impact.In this episode, we will focus on how McLaren's environmental and sustainability priorities have also influenced priorities around diversity inclusion amongst other aspects of its operating systems.

My name is Anna-Marie Slot, and I'm the global sustainability partner at Ashurst. You are listening to ESG matters at Ashurst.Tim, thanks for joining us today. At the end of the last episode, we started to explore how the business culture and McLaren was having to change due to your focus on sustainability. At Ashurst, of course, we're a proud partner of McLaren's and it's our joint goal to drive extraordinary performance.

But perhaps we can start by talking about how you work with your partners to further these goals.

Tim Bampton:
Anna-Marie, good to be back and to continue discussing this area. So let me take the first part of that question, which I think is the point about the mindset on performance and sustainability and I think that at McLaren race in one of the starting points is, as I'm sure it is the many organizations, it's understanding that sustainability is a driver of performance. It's not a barrier to performance, and that actually when you bake it into an organization and your way of thinking, your way of operating, the way you evaluate the options in front of you, that that mindset eventually translates into a way of working that actually increases our performance and makes us think more carefully on a variety of matters.

So I think that's the first point and that's not something necessarily that is achieved right now, but it's something that we are baking into the organization on a daily basis.In terms of how we work with our partners, we are hugely fortunate to have a portfolio of partners who are gold standard in this area, in a variety of different ways.

That extends not just from Ashurst of course, but also to brands like Unilever and Coca-Cola, Dell technologies, Axo Nobel and in fact, all of our partners have sustainability missions and we are fortunate as I say, to have the ability to lean into those partners, first of all to help us accelerate and optimize our sustainability journey and to get there quicker frankly. But also for us to support them through their supply chain, through their objectives in where we can add value through some of the analytical skills that we have through our engineering functions and problem solving. So I think there's a really good two way exchange or value exchange where we can help each other.

We have a sustainability advisory group that we're building and that sustainability advisory group consists of eight permanent members and then four rotating members.We can flex that membership according to the priorities we have in front of us. So if it's one of the four core pillars we have in our sustainability agenda of carbon net zero by 2030. We can lean into specific problems to help us achieve that. One of the things we all working very closely with Deloitte on is our benchmarking and understanding what our specific goals are on our journey towards 2030 and beyond.

So long answer, I know, but hopefully that gives a little bit more color to how we're now translating our ambition into our partnerships.

Obviously, in McLaren you work across a wide range of sectors, but you're predominantly focused in on automotive and technology. I would imagine your supply chains are incredibly complex, that's a big issue now that people are starting to grapple with. What are you looking to do to try to ensure those supply chains really become part of the solution and comply with how people are looking at those codes of conduct and in particular business ethics principles?

Tim Bampton:
Well, I think like many organizations, our obligation is towards sustainability doesn't end with what we do within our own walls. It's how can we help in the same way that our partners are helping us? How can we help our supply chain partners to move on the same journey? We wouldn't be as conceited enough to think that we couldn't learn from our supply chain partners as well. But fundamentally our aim is to get to scope three by 2025. We do, as you say, work with a whole variety of supply chain partners, smalL, formula one in particular is one of those industries where you work with very specialist companies.

But I think that the natural state of motor sport and engineering and motor sport is that sustainability is embraced. It is recognized as a key feature of the industry's progression. so we're pushing an open door and I think it's very much more about equipping our supply chain with our expectations, with tools and [inaudible] and sharing our knowledge to help in many cases, companies much smaller than ours to actually accelerate their own journey and support them in that, because obviously that's critical for us and ensuring that our entire supply chain is supporting our sustainability journey as well.

Definitely, and I think we're seeing that too. In fact, from the other side of that, we're seeing companies that are in the supply chain, as they become more advanced on sustainability, getting competitive advantage over other potential supply partners, by being able to help you and your scope three emissions or be part of that solution. So we've talked Tim, quite a lot about the environment in particular, the E of the ES and G, but I wanted to see if we could take a moment now to talk about some of the other work that is part of your wider sustainability commitment. In particular, maybe focusing on female talent in the industry, obviously a big question, but how are you approaching that diversity and inclusion inside the industry?

Tim Bampton:
I think you're absolutely right. There's two halves to our overall sustainability agenda, one of the environmental side and then yes, as you say Anna Marie, S, the societal end of the agenda is equally important and it does center on two pillars. One is diversity, equality, inclusion, and the other is health and wellbeing and actually, as we go along this journey, we're seeing so many connector points between those two issues. But fundamentally, diversity and inclusion is a real priority for us because while we're a formula one team, we are within, as you said, the technology industry.

I think it's commonly known that engineering and science-based careers are very heavily skewed at the moment towards males. We have a rich opportunity to both inspire, but also to practically drive more young females into stem careers and enable them to believe that these are careers of choice for them, and that they can succeed and break down traditional barriers that have prevented young women entering stem careers.There's a global shortage, as we know, of people in stem careers. So that's the first priority, is to drive people from all walks of life towards stem.

I think we just come through or we're just still going through well, which in the last 12 months has been challenged economically by nature. I think anyone would say the moment that if last 12 months have shown us anything, it's the importance of science in being able to address and solve key issues for humanity. So while that might seem a little bit highfalutin, if you like, it does come back down to the unique ability we have as a formula one team to inspire people to enter the world of STEM.That doesn't necessarily mean that they'll end up sitting on a pit wall and a pit lane at a racetrack somewhere, but it could mean they become a doctor. It could mean they become an immunologist. It could mean they become a scientist who is actively contributing to a better world. So without, again, wanting to sound too high and mighty or sanctimonious.

We genuinely believe that we have that opportunity and of course that stems from an understanding that we will only do the best we can be if we are a diverse and inclusive organization. I don't think we differ from anyone else in that respect, but particularly because we're a technology company and we do have a skew towards males, it's changing and it's going to be a journey to change it to where we want to be and where it needs to be, but we're on the move. But for us particularly, that's a real priority.

Very good points, Tim. Even if they don't end up on the side of a racing car pit crew. We saw even last year, the ability of the team at McLaren to take that scientific knowhow and that technology knowhow and turn around and help out by contributing to the medical supplies that were necessary to treat COVID. I find that a really incredible pivot that you took in record time. What do you see as the greatest challenge then between now and 2030? This has been described as the decisive decade. I like to refer to it as the moonshot of our decade being sustainability. What do you see really from your point of view as the greatest challenges?

Tim Bampton:
Well I think that our sustainability agenda reflects them. I think that is the need to, on an environmental side, move as quick as we can to a carbon net zero world and the world where we've transitioned to a circular economy and in parallel with that, to drive hard on the diversity and inclusion imperative.Then finally I think is the importance of health and wellbeing. So I would say that, wouldn't I? But I think the four corners of our agenda reflect what we believe certainly over the next 10 years are the key priorities. We need to, it's our position as an elite sports team, to be able to inspire and drive people towards better mental health, towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce and that starts with us.

Then we have a unique ability, I think I said a minute ago, being able to then take that to the wider world and see more young people recognizing the attractiveness of a career in stem. At the same time, transitioning from a position where we are ourselves in control of our emissions and control of our waste to the extent that we hit those targets I've mentioned before. But also again, helping to find solutions to accelerate towards even greater sustainability outcomes, both in terms of carbon, but also in terms of reuse and recycling. So I think the easy answer is what I think our approach is that we put in our strategy. Now there, of course are many offshoots of those peripheral initiatives. But I think it still will gravitate back towards those four pillars.

I guess one last question for the motor heads in the audience. What do you think then that motor sport will look like post 2030, and how will McLaren fit into that?

Tim Bampton:
Sports always been an incubator of technology and solutions to the matter going back decades, I don't believe that will change. The DNA, the nature of the sport is one of progression, one of exploration, rapid cycling, it is a fast moving world. So there's an element of fail and fail quickly to learn. So we move at speed and if something isn't going to work we move on very quickly out to the next community. So I think the rapidity of motor sport is a really advantageous aspect of how the sport can help drive solutions. Now, formula one, and the FIA, the governing body of world motor sport are heavily focused on sustainable fields.

That is something that formula one itself will be, one aspect in fact, of where the sport will help drive solutions in that area as we transition towards electrification, they're still at every important role for sustainable fuel supply.But things the way pioneering, such as the light weighting agenda. So carbon on the road, that is carbon fiber, the lighter and stronger something is, generally the more efficient it is. So the pioneering what we've been doing on beacon, which is a natural carbon fiber composite, will eventually find its way into the wider world and as so many technologies have from motor sport into the automotive sector.

So when you think about mobility in its general sense and how we can help get there quicker. When you think about things like electrification, McLaren applied technologies has been, for some time supplying batteries and finding new ways to make batteries more effective, more efficient, have more range and be lighter. So there are many different aspects of our world that are transitioning quite quickly into the mobility sector.Back to your original question Anna-Marie, I think that's where from a technology standpoint, the core of our work will focus, but there are many offshoots.

You talked about ventilators earlier, or were referencing back to all the work we did in the pandemic in terms of pivoting to produce basically I think 10 years of ventilators in the space of 10 weeks. Now well, we were part of an industry consortium what we could bring to the table was the planning with logistics, the speed, we're used the rapid prototyping, so we can turn on a dime in a lot of ways to help produce components and solutions much quicker than many other organizations, which are much bigger. So again, I think that the natural make up of motor sport will be a real advantage in enabling the industry to help address the broader issues of sustainability.

Thanks Tim, fascinating points around sustainability as a lens through which you then bring that ethos of McLaren, the innovation, the fail fast, the ability to pivot and bringing those two together is really a powerful opportunity for how you evolve into the sustainable and resilient future that we all need. So really appreciate your input today and your thoughts.

Tim Bampton:
Thank you Anna-Marie, and appreciate the platform to be able to share some of our thinking, it's an area for us that is an absolute core pillar of our future and incredibly exciting, actually as well as a technology organization. So thanks again for the opportunity.

Thank you to the listeners. If you'd like to learn more about how McLaren and Ashurst are driving extraordinary performance, please visit If you'd like to hear more ESG matters episodes, including our 30 for net zero 30 series, please visit or to ensure you don't miss any future episodes subscribe now on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform. While you're there, please feel free to keep the conversation going and leave us a rating or review. Thanks again for listening and goodbye for now.

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