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Duncan & Toplis: Pioneering Sustainability in Accountancy

Duncan & Toplis: Pioneering Sustainability in Accountancy
“Working with Net Zero Now has helped us to make a real commitment to reducing our carbon footprint to zero within the next five to eight years. Net Zero Now was recommended to us by another accountancy firm in our network and collaborating with them has ensured that we fully understand the impact of our actions on the environment, and the best ways to reduce this.” Duncan & Toplis

Duncan & Toplis: Embracing Sustainability in Accountancy

Duncan & Toplis, a leading accountancy group in the Midlands, has recently achieved the 'On the Road to Net Zero' status, highlighting a significant milestone in their sustainability journey. Committed to positively impacting both the community and the environment, the firm has seamlessly integrated sustainability into its corporate ethos and operations. In this case study, we explore the insights from Cara Bartlett and Sally Anne Hurn, who lead the firm’s sustainability initiatives. Their reflections provide a deeper understanding of the specific actions Duncan & Toplis has undertaken, the motivations behind these initiatives, and the broad impact of their commitment to sustainability. Gain firsthand insights into their strategic approach and the practical outcomes of their sustainability efforts.

How Duncan & Toplis integrates its commitment to sustainability within its service offerings and corporate strategy?

As one of the largest accountancy groups in the Midlands, Duncan & Toplis is committed to supporting the natural environment and having a positive impact on the world around us. As part of this, the group has implemented a number of sustainability-focused ESG targets into its corporate strategy, including: 

  • To work with carbon emissions consultants to achieve net zero status for the Duncan & Toplis group 
  • To provide ESG advice and support to clients
  • To develop its Sustainability Project Group further by introducing more initiatives for team members to take part in 
  • To develop the role of the Sustainability Champion and recruit more team members to assist 
  • To increase reporting on sustainability matters across the company on an ongoing basis 
  • To make a commitment to implementing Sustainable Development Goals by January 2025 
  • To better promote its environmental pension schemes to team members 
  • To implement sustainable stationery across all locations and phase out the use of paper business cards by December 2024

The group also fully embraces ESG matters and strives to incorporate this in everything it does as part of its Green Initiative Policy. As part of this, the group has started to look at green strategies across all its locations, taking into consideration what best suits each location whilst also ensuring that all projects are centrally aligned. 

The Green Initiative Policy includes green space transformation, reduction in energy use, minimising waste and maintaining clean and tidy office spaces. The policy is spearheaded by the group’s Sustainability Champion, Sally-Anne Hurn, and there are plans to recruit more personnel to support Sally-Anne in the implementation of the policy. 

What prompted Duncan & Toplis to aim for Net Zero by 2030, and why was partnering with Net Zero Now seen as crucial in this journey?

The purpose of Duncan & Toplis is to positively impact people, our communities and the world around us. We believe that by calculating our carbon footprint and setting ambitious Net Zero targets, not only will we ensure that we are authentic, but it also help us to create an organisation that is fit for the future.

It’s estimated that accountancy practices in the UK are responsible for nearly half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year and so, by setting a goal to aim for Net Zero by 2023, Duncan & Toplis is determined to play its part in reducing this. 

Net Zero Now was recommended to us by another accountancy firm in our network and we believe that collaboration with them will ensure that we truly understand the impact of our actions on the environment.

The group recognises the need to set clear, measurable ESG goals to help it have a more positive impact on its people, communities and the planet, and partnering with Net Zero Now was a key step in achieving this. By setting these goals, the group can measure its impact on the environment and report progress with honesty and transparency. 

Through these goals, the group can hold itself accountable for its actions and the outcomes they have, helping to work towards increasing its positive impact with far greater purpose. 

How has your collaboration with Net Zero Now influenced your sustainability strategies and operations?

The support offered by Emily Tradd was excellent during the data input stage. There were scheduled catch-ups to ensure that progress was being made and that questions could be answered in an efficient manner.

Since partnering with Net Zero Now, Duncan & Toplis has delivered a series of three webinars that consider the impact and requirements of the ESG framework on businesses. The first webinar focused on Environmental, the second on Social and the third on Governance. 

Net Zero Now supported the group in the delivery of the Environmental webinar, with Bana Mahasneh presenting alongside Caroline Cleary to discuss things such as: 

  • How to properly communicate sustainability targets and emissions reduction plans to avoid ‘greenwashing’
  • How marketing and communications can help to reduce the carbon footprint of an organisation 
  • How to develop and communicate an effective climate strategy 

By doing this, Net Zero Now and Duncan & Toplis have been able to share insights with other businesses which they can take forward in their own netzero journeys. 

Can you share some specific examples of how your sustainability initiatives have positively impacted your operations, staff, or the communities you serve?

As part of its Green Initiative Policy, Duncan & Toplis has installed solar panels at four of its locations which have generated over 73,000 units of renewable electricity to 31 March 2023. This includes 43,801 units at its Lincoln office, 19,072 units at its Boston office, 4,825 units at its Spalding office and 5,919 units at its Louth office.

Additionally, the team has been involved with enhancing the garden areas at the Melton Mowbray office in Leicestershire in order to make it more attractive to wildlife and encourage more to live there. The team have planted insect-friendly plants in order to attract more insects. They also helped to relocate bird boxes in the hope for them to be used more. This is an ongoing initiative and the team are considering creating a wildflower meadow.

What steps did Duncan & Toplis take to achieve the 'On the Road to Net Zero' status, and what have been the key outcomes of this achievement?

To achieve the ‘On the Road to Net Zero’ certification, Duncan & Toplis was required to conform with the criteria of the net zero sector protocol, complete key tasks and make climate commitments. 

Its climate commitments include:

  • Complete an annual carbon footprint calculation
  • Take action to achieve targets to restrict warming to less than 1.5 degrees 
  • Compensate for residual emissions 
  • Agree to publish greenhouse gas emissions data 

By completing its first annual carbon report, Duncan & Toplis has been able to identify key emission sources, develop carbon reduction activities and monitor progress towards reduction goals. The report revealed that the majority of the group’s emissions are produced by utilities, transport, IT and goods and services, so its targets are now predominantly focused on reducing greenhouse gases in these key areas. 

What message would Duncan & Toplis like to convey to other firms considering embarking on their own Net Zero journey?

The world is changing and people are becoming more and more aware of the impact that their cumulative actions have on their surroundings. ESG considerations are becoming core factors when making business decisions and, if you’re considering embarking on your net zero journey, there’s no better time than now. 

Net Zero Now can provide vital support in the first steps as you take action on climate change and build a more sustainable future. We’d encourage more businesses, especially accountancy practices, to get on board and partner with Net Zero Now to really make a difference.

Setting a New Standard in Sustainability for Accountancy

Duncan & Toplis's approach to sustainability sets a new standard in the accountancy sector, demonstrating how strategic commitments to environmental goals can profoundly influence business practices and industry standards. Their proactive measures and collaboration with Net Zero Now serve as a powerful example for other firms, illustrating that integrating sustainability not only benefits the planet but also enhances business resilience and reputation.

To discover how your firm can also achieve these environmental goals, schedule a free climate consultation with the Net Zero Now team today.