The sustainability specialist – the conscience of the business?

Thursday 13th June 2013

Bruntwood Logo

Bruntwood, City Tower, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester, M1 4BT


Verity Lawson , Sustainability Reporting Manager, British American Tobacco
Eileen Donnelly, Member of the Board for GACSO and Interim Head of CSR, John Lewis Partnership

Verity LawsonEileen Donnelly




Is it the responsibility of the sustainability specialist to be the conscience of the business?

Verity Lawson. As Sustainability Reporting Manager at British American Tobacco, Verity is responsible for all aspects of the Group’s sustainability reporting and submissions to indices, including the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. As well as reporting, she also oversees stakeholder dialogue, corporate social investment, communication and sustainability initiatives across the business and has also spoken at various seminars, events and academic courses on the Group’s approach to CSR and sustainability.

BAT has a long-standing reputation in the field of sustainability and has consistently scored highly in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the past 11 years. The Group has also received notable external recognition from Transparency International, the UN Environment Programme, PwC Building Public Trust Awards and Corporate Register Reporting Awards.

Verity’s background is in project management and she is an accredited PRINCE2 practitioner. Prior to joining British American Tobacco, she worked in the civil service on a number of high-profile projects throughout various departments.

Eileen Donnelly began her career in communications and marketing, very quickly moving from the world of consumer branding and FMCG to the not-for-profit sector. During her ten years in the sector she not only used her skills to raise large sums of money for national charities, but she also worked on the sector’s largest corporate accounts (e.g. BAE Sysytems and Tesco) and events (e.g. London Marathon).

She later joined the Virgin Group and set up their Global Sustainability function. Over the six years at Virgin, Eileen developed an appropriate approach for a celebrity-led, global superbrand and its operating companies, balancing sufficient policy direction with the flexibility needed for companies operating in diverse sectors and different geographical territories globally. She advised the board on a wide range of sustainability issues and was responsible for the Virgin Group’s first award winning sustainability report.

Eileen is now spreading her wings and has had head of roles at Anglian Water, Tomorrow’s Company and more recently, the John Lewis Partnership. She is also on the board at GACSO.


  • Stakeholder communications How transparent should you be?
  • Sustainability strategies Do you want to be a leader or a laggard?
  • Resource efficiency The resource efficiency trade off
  • Social responsibility How do your personal and organisational values match up?
  • Supply chain Out of sight, out of mind?
  • Sustainable buildings and technologies The first 20% – how do you get employees and occupiers of your buildings to reduce energy consumption?

Our sponsors for this event were Origin Creative and Sustainable Procurement Ltd.

Origin LogoOrigin is a creative collective that harnesses the power of ideas to help companies achieve their purpose. They do this by blending strategic, creative and digital capabilities to help businesses drive results for today’s dynamic environment.


Sustainable Procurement Limited was established in 2004 and builds on the work and expertise of Barbara Morton and Gregg Paget. We are ideally placed to give guidance and advice on Sustainable Procurement as well as offering high-quality training and events on Sustainable Procurement practice.