Ask a room full of people from the business community what ‘corporate sustainability’ means to them and the chances are most will immediately mention environmental issues.
Of course, every company – large and small - has a duty to protect the natural environment, but today there is much more to sustainability than simply being ‘green’.
“Environmentalism isn’t the whole story,” says Toyota’s Paul Mulcahy. “When adopting a corporate sustainability strategy, businesses have to consider their social, economic and cultural impact as well.”
Paul was appointed Toyota’s QHSE (Quality, Health & Safety and Environment) manager in 2015, since which time corporate sustainability has gone from being dismissed by many commentators as just another ‘fad’ to something that is now seen as deeply intrinsic to the success of any modern company.
“Our clients rarely ask if we have a corporate sustainability policy in place. Not because they aren’t interested, but – given Toyota’s size and global reputation and reach – it is just taken as a given that we do.
“There is no way that we would be working with the companies that we do – particularly the bigger national accounts such as Amazon and the major supermarkets – if we weren’t extremely serious about sustainability and didn’t have robust strategies in place to deliver our goals and aims,” says Paul.
One particularly important aspect of Toyota’s approach to sustainability is the company’s commitment to attract, retain and develop team members throughout the organisation.
“Across Europe we have developed a harmonised people strategy. Every team member receives job-appropriate training and development tools,” explains Paul.
He continues: “Many technicians have enrolled in our Service Technician Engineers Program (STEP) and After Sales Evaluation and Certification (ASEC) activities and every team member has access to additional learning tools. Growing our business depends on the contributions of our people.”
Paul Mulcahy’s personal contribution to the growth of Toyota has certainly been significant. He joined BT Rolatruc as a service technician in 1987 and, apart from a year spent running a coach business with his brother in the mid-1990s, he has been part of the Toyota family ever since.
“I am living proof of Toyota’s ability to retain and develop its team members,” Paul says with a smile.
Having begun his own career as a service technician, Paul finds it hard to understand why the lift truck industry as a whole is struggling to attract young people willing to train to be the forklift engineers of tomorrow.
“Of course,” he says, “I realise that materials handling isn’t everyone’s idea of glamorous but it’s an industry that offers good career prospects and an opportunity for young people to progress in life.
“As a service engineer you get so much experience – and most of it is good! You may be working at the site of a blue-chip multinational company one day where you get very well looked after and the next morning find yourself carrying out routine truck maintenance at an abattoir, which is less enjoyable!
“Many senior personnel within Toyota have moved on to their current role having started life as a service technician, so I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage a young person with an interest in technology to consider entering our industry as an engineer.”
For the best part of 30 years, Paul has been married to Angie. The couple have one daughter, who is currently studying for a psychology degree at Leeds University.
Living close to the Peak District, the Mulcahy family are keen walkers and generally appreciate the outdoor life.
“We are fortunate to have one of the most beautiful, unspoilt landscapes Britain has to offer on our doorstep. It is important that such places remain unchanged for future generations to enjoy, but this will only happen if we all strive to use less of the world’s resources now,” Paul reflects.
“Toyota’s ‘zero muda’ – or zero waste – policy is one of the cornerstones of the company’s sustainability policy. When I’m out walking in the Peaks I really see the value of ‘zero muda’ and truly appreciate working for an organisation with Toyota’s approach to sustainability. I return home doubly committed to helping the company make a difference to the environment and, of course, the wellbeing of the people in our community who want to enjoy it.”