In July 2012 The Blue Room Theatre board formally adopted an environmental policy. This might seem like an unnecessary bit of paperwork, but it was actually an important first step. Before you decide how you are going to reduce your carbon footprint, you have to want to do it, and for an organisation, formulating a statement of commitment is a good way of starting to think about what might be involved.
Many other organisations have sustainability or environmental policies – cruise a few web sites and you’ll find many examples – so we had lots of models to copy reference. We felt a broad, simple statement acknowledging our responsibilities and stating our intentions was a good start.
We called it an environmental policy because it’s clearly about the environment beyond our core business. “Sustainability” is a word that gets bandied about a lot, and we also reckon our business sustainability is pretty much taken care of in our strategic plan and annual reporting. Sustainability is traditionally described as having three key areas – economic, social and environmental – and we felt we weren’t paying enough attention to the last one.
But before we made any progress on environmental goals, we made an important change on the social front, by removing the threshold on superannuation payments for casual staff. We employ arts practitioners as bar and front-of-house staff, and in the past, if they didn’t do many shifts in a calendar month, they didn’t accrue superannuation. And since the same thing might have applied at other venues they were working at, it was possible they were earning a reasonable amount, but not having any super paid into their funds. We always budget for the correct percentage of wages, so we were making a “saving” each year on superannuation costs, at the expense of our future aged artsworkers! Our fabulous board (many of whom are practitioners themselves, but none employed by The Blue Room Theatre) could see the value in supporting this simple change for social wellbeing.
Does your workplace have a sustainability or environmental policy?