Corporate Responsibility award entry

“Sustainability” describes DP World’s commitment to being a responsible business now and in the future, through which we consider all of our decisions. At an operational level, it means thinking about the long-term impact of every action individuals take.


Our Sustainability Champions Network (“the Champions”) was created by the Director of Global Sustainability & Impact – Kathryn Wightman-Beaven, appointed in 2011 – for a number of reasons, and these include:

  • To develop our Corporate Responsibility function to be a global sustainability programme,
  • To engage our senior leadership team,
  • To provide an integrated plan to promote local leadership, cultural change, communication and employee engagement,
  • To led the create and build an understanding and awareness of Corporate Responsibility, and
  • To develop local policy and plans, that translate global vision to local action.


The timeline below outlines both how the Champions Network has been developed, and shows our long-term approach to addressing sustainability with key dates being:

  • In 2011, Kathryn worked with the regional Senior Vice Presidents to establish what the Champions network would entail, and identified regional team members according to circumstances on the ground,
  • In 2012, the Champions was formally recognised to promote global connectivity for local sustainability,
  • In 2015, we started using the term ‘Sustainability’ – retiring the term Corporate Responsibility – because it was considered a more focused description for our business,
  • Later in 2015, the Champions met as a group for their first conference and been followed-up with others in 2016 and 2017.
  • In 2016 our Sustainability Advisory Committee recommended with the support of Global Human Capital that all the Champions update their job descriptions with specific and bonus driven sustainability objectives weighted at a minimum of 30% with the core tasks remaining in line with the role description.
  • In 2016, Our World Our Future (OWOF) was launched by which time the Champions were a strong network with capability to launch and drive it forward by translating it to local issues, working with our regional leadership to embed sustainability in operations, drafting strategic plans, committing to changing business unit mind-sets and reporting on progress.
  • In 2017 regular contact with the Champions is done via group conference calls every six weeks, and one-on-one monthly calls with the Director of Global Sustainability & Impact.
  • In 2017 the Sustainability Advisory Committee recommended a regional leadership position to help develop sustainability in the business and ensure its commercial long-term positioning.
  • In 2018, and in the future, the Sustainability Champions role will become part of the norm – “stickiness” – and not be just associated with initiatives.


A PPT presentation outlining the 2017 Sustainability Champions Conference in Dubai and Conference Outcome Infographic is included as a PDF.


Initially, the Sustainability Champion role focused on awareness, developing an understanding of sustainability. However, as initiatives developed the role matured with individuals encouraged to think about how they could use their individual skills to contribute to sustainability – from implementing small environmental improvements in the office such as turning lights off at night to broad business-benefits such as understanding the sustainability requirements of our customers and making sure we meet them. Sustainability Champions find their biggest challenge to effectively delivery relates to budget constraints, being included on an ongoing basis in team or leadership meetings and reaching out to terminal staff who work shifts for ideas and feedback.


A majority of the Champions originate from Communications, Human Capital or Administration departments with the role being allocated a minimum 30% of an already established role. To ensure consistency, when the role is not full-time it is referred to as Sustainability Champion. If the role is full-time, the title – Manager, Coordinator, Officer etc. – is aligned with the business unit grading and job title protocol. In our head office (Dubai, UAE) there is a four-person Global Sustainability team with job titles ranging from Sustainability Officer and Manager to Director.  For example, in the MEA region the Sustainability Champion role is a 50-50 split with the Human Capital department. In SCO region, there is a supported and defined opportunity to employ a full time Sustainability Manager.


Over the years, the job description for the Champions has developed to include regional, business and leadership responsibilities, and these are also factors to consider when appointing someone to such a role. Outlined below is a high-level description for a Sustainability Champion:

Sustainability Champion – competencies:

  • Influencing leadership
  • Stakeholder engagement dialogue (including grievances)
  • Risk management and governance
  • Strategy development and implementation
  • Policy development and implementation
  • Strategic communication
  • Measurement and reporting


Sustainability Champion – Responsibilities:

  • Region and business unit sustainability focal point
  • Managing community investment and engagement
  • Implement global sustainability approach and commitments in collaboration with HC, GSE, Business Development, Procurement and Commercial
  • Implement and ongoing communication of OWOF
  • Develop implement and monitor sustainability KPIs
  • Input data to the sustainability system
  • Oversee business unit input to the sustainability system
  • Manage and deliver the Global Education Programme in the region
  • Report to the SVP on regional sustainability progress
  • Manage sustainability stakeholder engagement process.


The attached PDF contains the Sustainability Champions Competency Map and the current Sustainability Champions Tool-Kit.


In the future, the Champions will also take-on additional responsibilities beyond their daily role by supporting our engagement with partners, customers, suppliers, investors and other external audiences in sustainability initiatives. There are growing examples of sustainability influencing procurement decisions impacting reputation, sales and share price, reinforcing the value it has for our business.


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The Champions have clearly defined job descriptions and bonusable objectives.  DP World’s senior leadership at the regional level is influenced by the sustainability champions and have built sustainability into the budgeting process and management/strategy meetings.

Examples of Champion related impacts include:

·        In the Middle East Africa (MEA) region, the Champion was central to the 2018 strategy meeting ensuring that sustainability was pivotal to the strategy.

·        In MEA, the Champion hosts bi-annual meetings with the General Manager and individual Business Unit (BU) Champions to discuss strategy, progress and where additional support is required.

·        In India, a Champion was recruited to be full time sustainability manager because senior management/ executives recognised that for greater impact and stickiness a full time focus was required.

·        Champions also provide a focal point for new business development – when looking at business development proposals champions are the go-to person with local knowledge and can also translate global strategy to local proposals.

·        In 2017, a target of 4000 volunteering hours in work time was set for Global Volunteer Week at DP World, and 5028 volunteer hours in work time was achieved – well above the original target. This increase in hours was directly related to how the regional Champions activated the BU Champions.

All of the above examples show the efforts made to ensure sustainability remains front and centre of region and Business Unit (BU) conversations. In addition, the video clip (below) shows DP World’s significant role in the communities where we operate. As a world class business integral to the supply chain of our customers, the Champions promote acting with integrity in the development of solutions for our customers, suppliers, communities and partners to contribute to a sustainable future.


On a final note, Bosco D’silva, Sustainability Manager in our Subcontinent region, summarised how sustainability not only impacts the business, but supports change and leadership.

“As the Sustainability Champion in SCO Region I am continuously highlighting the implications and showing how sustainability can bring about meaningful change across the business and in the communities where we operate (and have influence)… Sustainability is not a new term in the SCO region, but it has various definitions which challenges both leadership and operational staff to arrive at a consensus. But the clear direction provided by our Global Sustainability team has helped in driving and enforcing sustainability impact through the global programme – OWOF – by addressing the importance of sustainability in every aspect of the business… and helping to raise the importance of global sustainability challenges – such as plastics in the Ocean – and how DP World can address it at a community level.”

The Sustainability Data Collection System was designed to help our Champions manage and collect data on our sustainability initiatives and track and report on progress. It was developed by our Global Sustainability team to assess and report on the value and achievements of corporate community investment. It is based on the London Benchmark Group (LBG) model which is increasingly used by companies around the world and is widely regarded as the international standard for measuring corporate community investment, aligning with global reporting standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Ultimately, the system enables and support the Champions at both the regional and business unit to:

  • Inform management decisions about the future direction of their community activity,
  • Understand how their own community activity compares with peers and/or ‘best-in-class’ companies,
  • Communicate results to key audiences, and
  • Provide information (inputs and outputs) on where money is spent, focus areas and progress.


In addition, it helps our Global Sustainability team and our Champions demonstrate our commitment to OWOF. By actively measuring what we do, we can better manage our initiatives and continually improve our performance. This data is also included in the annual report and to actively engage our stakeholders.

An additional innovation piece the champions address is that change is here for the long term, and they work to:

  • Consistently to embed sustainability in the business,
  • Ensure it is raised to the regional leadership, and
  • Not rely solely on a head office sustainability team – “sticking” and being sustainable.

An example of a future innovation opportunity that could include engaging the Champions is the DP World’s Cargospeed initiative. In 2018 a new partnership with Virgin Hyperloop One was established to build an ultra high speed cargo delivery system. The joint venture, named DP World Cargospeed, will design a hyperloop system to deliver freight from point to point in an energy efficient way. A Youtube video clip has been included below to show what Cargospeed is and how it works.


Any organisation looking to develop a global approach to sustainability must include the following:

  • Champions with clear capabilities
  • Mapping competencies
  • Setting in place a structure for or positioning for the long term – whether that be part-time champions or progressing to full time managers.


However, there is a creative element in the role of Champion because individuals take on the role in ways that suit local culture, requirements and business strategy. This can be seen in the social issues supported, ranging from domestic violence in Australia to health in MEA and education in India.  Having a global plan supports local action to manage creative sustainability initiatives such as:

  • In Dakar the Champion requested the CEO signs a pledge to communicate sustainability – through Our World, Our Future – to all employees and then CEO encouraged senior leadership to do the same.
  • In Brazil the champion launched a volunteer of the year award to recognise contributions to the community – the plan is for the Champions to replicate it across the Americas region.
  • At the champions conference last year each champion was asked to make a commitment card which would be posted to them 6 months later to remind them of what they committed to changing. The champions liked this as it made them think about what they wanted to achieve.
  • It is important to note that there has been little turnover is the champion network – natural attrition as employees leave the company. In fact, there are a number of people that want to be champions!  This is a good recommendation for the way we did it!


In hindsight, and if DP World were to consider implementing the Sustainability Champions Network differently the following should have been considered:

  • Having full-time managers from day one,
  • In this order, proving the concept, building awareness, understanding and committing to create a network for change,
  • Bespoke work with individual senior leaders within individual BUs to show the real need for mindset and cultural change,
  • Concept of a Champion is key but would have developed capability/competency framework earlier, and
  • To encourage all champions to attend professional sustainability training.


The video clip below shows how DP World works to pilot the ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ in three Dubai schools. The “lesson” places company employees into classrooms around the world to help children learn about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a partner of IMPACT2030, an international business sector initiative focused on engaging employees to help meet the UN’s SDGs through corporate volunteering, the Champions are encouraged to launch new ‘Employees for the Global Goals’ resources to help regions and business units communicate and inspire change through the SDGS.


On a final note, Kathryn Wightman-Beaven, Director of Global Sustainability & Impact, created the Sustainability Champion network and continues to play a role in encouraging and motivating them.

“Our sustainability champions provide the energy to bring sustainability alive across our global network. They translate the global plan to local action, staying in touch with local stakeholders to understand their issues. The network was established to connect good practice across our global business and it’s a forum for champions to listen, hear and share. Each year, they grow and develop their knowledge of sustainability and their impact is greater”.