Why employee-owned Wave Refrigeration is putting ‘Generation Z’ at the forefront of its sustainable development goals

Wave Refrigeration’s vision for future success is built around the belief that its next generation programme and sustainable development goals initiative “will ensure that the business continues to grow and thrive”.

It is an approach that helped the West Yorkshire firm become the first refrigeration engineering consultancy to achieve Investors in People (IIP) accreditation in 2019.

The employee-owned business, which is also an Investors in People Awards 2021 finalist, was founded by James Bailey in 2015 and as well as its main base in Keighley, it has a regional office in Trivandrum, India.

It joined delegates at the EOA Annual Conference 2021 to share its story of how it has engaged its employee owners to become committed to achieving the advancement of its sustainable development goals (SDGs), aligned to the 17 goals set by the United Nations General Assembly.

Wave believes its SDGs reflect its company vision, which states: “Wave promotes sustainable engineering practices that protect our natural environment for present and future generations”.

How young people are central to Wave’s sustainable development goals

Founder James insists it has been the strength of Wave’s people that has ensured its success.

He said: “Our initial recruitment focused on experienced professionals. As we continued to expand, we took the decision to recruit and train young people through what we call our next generation programme.

“We have enjoyed significant success with our programme, it has increased our engineering and project management skill base. Through our sustainable development goals initiative, we have also been able to unlock leadership potential of our young people, with our twice yearly updates always led by one of our next generation.

“Implementing sustainable development goals do not require a wealth of experience, all they require is a social and environmental conscience, something that ‘Generation Z’ has in abundance.

“The next generation is where our future business leaders will come from, they understand the culture of our business and what it means. It is our next generation programme and sustainable development goals initiative that will ensure that the business continues to grow and thrive. This will support my wish that Wave is always employee-owned.”

What are the 17 sustainable development goals?

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10.  Reduced inequalities
  11.  Sustainable cities and communities
  12.  Responsible consumption and production
  13.  Climate action
  14.  Life below water
  15.  Life on land
  16.  Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17.  Partnerships for the goals

Example of how Wave is aligning itself with these UN goals

As part of this emphasis on the next generation, it is these young people at Wave that lead on projects under these 17 banners to help “contribute to a fairer, better society and environment”, for example in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption.

Ellie Clare, Operations Manager at Wave, project managed a scheme to meet its objectives under number one – no poverty. Rather than just donating money, Wave was able to offer its expertise to make a much more “meaningful” and “impactful” contribution, which was recognised at an awards ceremony in 2019.

“Businesses like Wave have an important part to play in reducing poverty,” she says.

“As a leading refrigeration consultant, we decided to offer our support at no cost to the amazing food distribution charity FareShare, who many larger food retailers donate food to.

“We designed and project managed refrigeration systems for new cold rooms for FareShare’s depots in Leeds and Liverpool. The impact of both projects resulted in FareShare being able to accept and store more donated food for redistribution to those in need.”

Ethos ‘built into the DNA of Wave going forward’

Founder James will leave the business on December 3, 2021 following the successful transition of Wave in forming an Employee Ownership Trust.

Under James’s leadership, Wave has grown to work with some of the UK’s largest food retailers and distributors and ranks number one of all small Investors in People accredited organisations which operate in and around the construction sector.

But he will leave the company in the knowledge that, as Managing Director Mark Williams states, the sustainable development goals in conjunction with its employee ownership ideals mean that “inclusivity, teamwork and aspiration are built into the DNA of Wave going forward”.

James added: “Everybody buys into the ethos and culture. By having the goals in place it develops and identifies early-day leadership qualities.

“First and foremost we are here to make money, that goes without saying, but we do focus a lot of our time and attention on sustainable development goals, what I’d coin as ‘it’s beyond the bottom line’.

“It’s maybe intangible, but certainly our customers love what we’re doing and we’re well respected for having a strong, socially just and environmentally just conscience.”

Wave shared its story on day three of the virtual EOA Annual Conference 2021, the sessions from which are available on demand for 60 days after the event. To find out more or to register, click here >>

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Day 1 – Tuesday 16th November
Day 2 – Wednesday 17th November
Day 3 – Thursday 18th November