message from our external sustainability panel


In an uncertain business environment, the Panel has retained its commitment to helping Tarmac add value to its business through sustainability.

The company has great strengths; it has a long-term commitment to and understanding of sustainability, a robust and science based approach to performance, substantial assets in its people, its land and its culture, and a supportive parent company. The Panel’s role is strategic and that of a “critical friend”; it gives advice on how these strengths can be deployed so that Tarmac helps deliver a more sustainable world and prospers as a business.

The manner of the Panel’s engagement with the business is critical to its effectiveness. It receives full and robust briefings before meetings, which are then devoted to substantial discussions face-to-face with senior executives. The Panel commends the company for enabling engagement in this way.

During the year, the Panel has joined with the executive in exploring what makes the company an “employer of choice”. Regrettably, external perceptions of the sector are out of kilter with the opportunities and work environment that the company now offers its existing employees and new entrants. The Panel has encouraged the company to consider how its culture fosters or inhibits diversity, and how the talents required for the future may be nurtured. Being an employer of choice is central to business success particularly when those entering work for the first time are looking to express their concern for sustainability in the workplace.

Innovation is another facet of success. The Panel has encouraged the company to embrace innovation in building materials, in building methods and building management. Such innovation will be key to delivering more sustainable buildings, viewed from a whole-life perspective. The Panel believes that by forging the right business partnerships, Tarmac can use its reputation and its business muscle to bring much needed confidence to the market for more sustainable buildings. These partnerships will be part of the innovation journey; culture is also important. The Panel has offered its advice on how Tarmac’s culture and structure might be shaped to nurture innovation within all parts of the business.

Tarmac has continued to address its carbon footprint with a rigour and determination that the Panel commends. It is possible that 2019 will come to represent a watershed in wider public understanding of climate change and the significance of the “net-zero” target. Whether or not such a watershed materialises, the Panel believes it is now time to revisit Tarmac’s carbon targets and the timescales attached to them. Stakeholder expectations of sectors seen to be central to the problem of carbon emissions are already heightened; there is a new public urgency and Tarmac’s planned actions will be affected (positively or otherwise) by actions in sectors that have, to date, done little to reduce their emissions. The Panel is well aware that it is asking for the certainty of climate change to be addressed at a time when other aspects of the business environment are deeply uncertain. This makes the task more complex but also suggests opportunity. The Panel looks forward to giving the best help and encouragement that it can.
(External sustainability panel from left to right; Peter Halsall, Shaun McCarthy OBE, Penny Shepherd, Tony Burton OBE, Jiggy Lloyd, Andy Brown (not pictured)

The mission of the Tarmac External Sustainability Panel is to provide advice and guidance, and to serve as “critical friends” of the company as it undergoes its transformation to a provider of sustainable solutions.

The Panel fulfils its role chiefly by meeting the Tarmac Executive at intervals during the year, informed by site visits and background information. At those meetings, discussions embrace the strategic direction of the business, its response to emerging sustainability issues and other topics requested by the Panel or suggested by the company.

It is not the role of the Panel to scrutinise performance data or to audit the company’s activities, but to provide high-level, strategic guidance. The commentary here does not therefore constitute a review or audit of this report.