How Your Restaurant Could Benefit From Our Working Groups
Did you know that we hold regular Working Groups to encourage businesses to share and discuss their sustainability challenges, creative solutions and inspiring ideas?
The Sustainable Restaurant Association organises four Working Groups every year, suitable for larger businesses in our network (those with 10+ sites) and usually held in London. We believe in the power of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and these sessions are designed to facilitate this. Through a guided group discussion on a selected theme, businesses can share ideas and challenges with one another, finding answers and taking inspiration from people in their field.
We asked Cerys Jenkins-Lowe, Sustainability Manager at Pizza Hut UK, about her experience of attending our recent Working Group on Sourcing; read on for her feedback about the experience.
What did you find most valuable about our Working Group on Sourcing?
It was hugely useful to be able to bring not just myself as sustainability lead, but also my supply chain/procurement colleagues who own our supplier relationships. My supply chain colleague is now more engaged and interested in the sustainability agenda and has a clearer idea of the impact her team can have.
The breadth of companies, roles and experience in the room was inspiring as it was a real melting pot of different opinions and approaches. It was brilliant to meet a broader range of companies than some other groups in which I I’ve been involved, and to meet new people working in sustainability and learn from them.
How was the format of the Working Group conducive to learning and sharing information?
There was a great mixture of presentations and discussion, so everyone had a chance to speak and share their experiences/challenges, which was great. There was also plenty to learn from structured presentations and thoughtful prompts.
Was there anything you learned that surprised you?
Yes – that there is no one right way of doing things! We can very often feel like everyone else is “in the know” on a topic, and is following a process or guidelines which we aren’t aware of or can’t make sense of. But through sharing information on our own challenges and workstreams, we learned that everyone is doing their best to do the right thing, within the constraints of their own businesses and markets. It’s useful to share ideas and learn from best practice, but also reassuring to know that many companies are doing things for the first time, and are carving out their own pathway in the right, known, general direction! This is really empowering and energising as it gives me the energy to just have a go and get started.
It was also surprising to understand the huge differences between peoples’ supply chains, focuses and challenges! I am up against certain challenges because of the scale of my business, but both larger and smaller businesses are working through different – and equally challenging – issues. By working on what we can do in our respective areas, we can all set precedents that can be shared to deliver benefits for other businesses, which is hugely valuable.
What lessons from the Working Group have you brought back to your team/implemented in your business?
We were very inspired by the approach to sourcing/guidelines shared by one of the speakers, and it was fantastic that a template was also included. We’re working on creating a similar toolkit for our own business, and have already added sustainability queries and metrics into our RFPs/tenders and regular supplier conversations.
Would you be interested in attending more Working Groups from The SRA?
Absolutely! The SRA keeps us honest on a broad range of topics, and helps us to focus on areas across all three pillars of sustainability. Otherwise – due to limited resources – it would be tempting to focus solely on carbon, missing opportunities to have a greater impact across a broader range of issues.
These working groups are a great way of engaging and sharing that knowledge – I am already looking forward to some great sessions in 2024.
If you’re interested in taking part in one of our 2024 Working Groups and you think your business is eligible to join, please reach out to our Sustainability Consultant Laurence Hamdan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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