GAC's Roadmap to Sustainability outlines the Group's commitment to "adapt, innovate and reduce" its activities and encourage others to create non-destructive, long-term value moving towards a sustainable future. GAC UK recognises its own role in meeting these ambitions and in 2021, we launched our ten-year sustainability programme – MARS25. Read on to learn more.
With our first target date of end-2025, MARS25 encourages evidenced behavioural changes in line with the actions set out in our strategy, for the improved well-being of our people, and reducing our impact on the planet. This is our overarching mission:
We will accomplish this by completing sustainability objectives aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which form the framework of our ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) management system. Chapter One focuses on our activities and goals from now until the end of 2025; Chapter Two will follow, covering the five years 2026-2030.
We have a dedicated MARS25 Microsoft Teams internal communications channel where our objectives are detailed and progress monitored. It is a platform where our staff can share ideas, opinions, and personal successes which is key in keeping our goals in the spotlight, ensuring our staff are continually aware of our objectives and helping us all achieve our targets.
Our ambition to promote equal opportunities for all was demonstrated in 2021, when GAC extended its partnership of Aberdeen Football Club to include sleeve sponsorship of Aberdeen Women FC. This support has benefited the club with the women’s squad achieving semi-pro status by the end of the 2021/22 season. What’s more, in partnership with Aberdeen Football Club, we support an annual ‘Fair Play for All’ community event for primary school aged children from areas of social deprivation. Youngsters experience unique coaching sessions and STEM activities at the club’s training facility, Cormack Park, before meeting squad members from the Women’s Team.
To help promote biodiversity, GAC UK sponsors several beehives in Scotland, as well as a local farming wildflower meadow located next to our bee colonies, with the aim of restoring the natural biome of the soil using traditional methods and moving away from fertilisers and pesticides.
In September 2022, we became involved in a seagrass restoration project, in partnership with Falmouth Harbour and marine restoration charity, Our Only World. We co-sponsor the production of the Seavive Pod, which we hope can be used in many more Seagrass regeneration projects across the world to help raise awareness of the importance of Seagrass and similar marine habitats.
In October 2019, we signed the Women in Maritime pledge and became active members of the Maritime UK’s Diversity in Maritime initiative which includes four networks: Women in Maritime, Mental Health in Maritime, Pride in Maritime and Ethnicity in Maritime.
In March 2021, we signed the Mental Health in Maritime pledge and in the following April, we proudly joined the Diversity in Maritime Charter. To become a Charter organisation, we shared our employee baseline data including the total proportion of women in our workforce and in middle and senior management roles. We are working towards achieving our comprehensive five-year targets aligned to improving equality, diversity, and inclusion throughout our organisation.
Under MARS25, various action points are included to improve equality such as gender pay gap reporting, flexible working arrangements and extending paternity leave to new fathers.
Our focus on people as well as the planet includes over twenty action points that build on various initiatives already in place, such as Mental Health First Aid Training, the promotion of good physical and mental well-being, and actions to support our commitment to Diversity in Maritime. Our Mental Health Well-being working group, first established in 2018, meets every month to discuss various internal mental health initiatives and support to be offered to our staff.
In January 2023, MacMillan Cancer Support became our official charity of the year. Together, GAC UK and Macmillan Cancer Support will be working to help people with cancer and their loved ones live life as fully as they can.
Our Marine Leisure, Sports & Events arm, GAC Pindar, with their particular focus on ocean health, has supported a plethora of causes and initiatives over recent years including the Magenta Project’s work to promote equal access and opportunities for women in sailing, as well as the United Nations CleanSeas campaign to reduce single-use plastic waste.
Through GAC Pindar’s service partnership with The Ocean Race, we continue to work towards the elimination of single-use plastic from the event’s supply chain and extend our remit to the provision of greenhouse gas (GHG) tracking data for our logistics customers. We are also an active member of the Race to Restore programme which brings together all race stakeholders of the 2022-23 edition to at least halve the race’s greenhouse gas emissions, balance collective unavoidable GHG impacts, play a part towards global net zero emissions by 2040, and to restore balance by drawing down more GHGs than is collectively emitted. To meet these goals, we have committed to measuring and balancing any GHGs created at a company level associated with servicing The Ocean Race.
Since 2017, when GAC Pindar became the official logistics provider of World Sailing, we have been supporting the sport’s governing body with their mission to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Sports Programme. Through the provision of our transportation services, we are helping more para sailors get out on the water at more locations around the world.