There are many ways we can describe our group of Giki Chief Greenies. Passionate. Trail-blazing. Inspired. But the word best suited for Dominic Brown, Programme Manager of Own Operations and Chief Greenie of NatWest Group?
Dominic has been a Chief Greenie for over two years. In that time, he’s helped make sustainability a core part of the NatWest Group ethos. Last year, they were shortlisted for the Employee Engagement and Behaviour Change Initiative category at the Edie Sustainability Leadership Awards and, through our partnership, won The Employee Engagement Campaign of the Year at the 2022 BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.
An impressive resume so far right?
But for Dominic, being a Chief Greenie goes far beyond winning awards for sustainability or enhancing his CV. This former police officer turned sustainability champion has always wanted to give more back to society.
“I left the police after seven years to join the banking group. But after a while, I felt I wasn’t contributing enough to society. I had a burning desire to do more.”
It’s this burning desire that continues to fuel Dominic, and even after the success he’s achieved with NatWest, it’s his humility that keeps him going.
“I wanted to do more, to be more sustainable and give back. I’d recently got married and it was my wife’s Aunt who initially introduced me to a greener way of thinking. She was, and still is on the Committee for Climate Change, so we had lots of interesting conversations and explaining things, obvious things, that had just never been explained to me before. I began reading different blogs and books and knew this was the direction I wanted to go.”
Dominic first looked to his personal life and the small changes he could make. He started cutting down on meat, and being more conscious about the food he ate and where it came from.
“I started slowly really. If I was in a restaurant, I might have steak but wouldn’t have it as a part of my fortnightly diet. But as the years have gone by, and with the veggie and vegan scenes exploding, I eat less and less meat.”
But it didn’t stop there. After his wife came on board, they turned to their home and the difference they could make. Considering their plastic usage, looking at different supermarkets for where they could make more sustainable choices like buying organic.
“We also looked at our pension, something I hadn’t really considered before joining the bank. We made the change to greener pensions and took it from there. We now have an electric car and take the kids to school in a cargo bike! It’s really cut down on our car mileage by around 4000 miles a year. And the kids love it.”
Some might say it was fate or just good timing. But as Dominic’s environmental efforts ramped up in his personal life, NatWest Group was looking to do the same.
“As my personal journey was moving, the bank was moving in the same way. The Project Manager role came up in the climate change group programme so I jumped at the opportunity and moved away from the commercial side of the business to somewhere I felt I could make more of a difference to society.”
And two years later, NatWest Group have a whole team of environmental champions using Giki to make differences to their lives every day.
What advice would you give to other Chief Greenies in your position?
Don’t go it alone! As you share more about sustainability or your passion for doing good, you’ll probably find more people come along with you. Build a big enough action group so that it’s not all on you to do the thinking. It also helps bring in more perspective! Having others in the team to help plan and support, as well as the support from the Giki team, is invaluable. We’re in this together.
Were there any challenges with adoption of the programme and how did you overcome it?
We didn’t really have an issue with adoption as the ethos of NatWest as a company is to bring people together and take action. That said, you can’t make a difference if you don’t have people in the right place across the business. You need to utilise the network that’s out there. It’s great to be driven by doing good for the planet, but you need those people to be able to challenge behaviour and drive change.
You recently ran our Take a Bite food related challenge. Can you tell us a bit about how you found it and how you adapted it for your team?
Yes! We did the food challenge for five days which was a great challenge length for us. Before the challenge began, we made sure to properly warm up the team and ensure they knew what to expect. We have a kind-of Facebook at work called WorkPlace where I posted a synopsis a week before. I also went down to our café and filmed a short vlog a few days before, explaining what was on offer and where people could find information. I also posted a news article on the intranet page which sparked a lot of debate, both for and against, in the comments section. I’d say you just need to get people excited!
The Head of Catering at NatWest was really engaged and wanted to help. They printed leaflets, organised TV and digi screens in the café to get the message out. They also suggested a softer approach. They expressed caution about going all out vegan with the message as it might put people off. Instead, we offered vegetarian wraps and put those at the front of the bar, and you could have chicken for an extra £1. They also put the vegan cakes out front which proved really popular.
Overall, I’d say the challenge was a huge success, but a lot of that was down to the planning beforehand.
For many of us at Giki, and our Chief Greenie Champions, we can feel that, despite the steps we take and changes we make, there’s always more to do. But if Dominic Brown has taught us anything, it’s that being more sustainable is a group effort and we can only do incredible things together.
Thank you, Dominic, for sharing your story with us, and we hope your story will continue to bring together other Chief Greenies and know that, collectively, we can make a difference.