Global media tech company Aferian (formerly known as Amino Technologies) prides itself on making it easy to connect people to the TV and video that they love. It is a growing public company that trades under the ticker symbol AFRN on AIM, London Stock Exchange’s market for small and medium growth companies.
Aferian is a people-driven company with 350 employees worldwide and a culture of collaboration. They take their responsibility to all their stakeholders very seriously. Some informal social and environmental programmes had naturally grown out of this ethos and were running in the background at the company, but without a formal strategy in place around them.
As a public company, Aferian’s board recognised the growing importance of having defined Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) practices in place – from a business and investor viewpoint, as well as an ethical one. They tasked the leadership team to move ESG up the business agenda.
“We were already addressing various elements of both ‘E’ and ‘S’, but using a very piecemeal approach. The board highlighted the need for greater governance in this area.” explained Mark Carlisle, COO and CFO at Aferian.
“We knew we needed to take a step back and look at the big picture to bring all of these initiatives together. We needed to find a way to work with our stakeholders and develop a formalised, measurable ESG framework that was relevant to our business.”
The need for expertise
Aferian’s leadership team recognised that an effective ESG framework needed to incorporate the motivations and priorities of their global workforce and to be shaped within the company – not be dictated from the board. As a result, they decided to work with independent experts who could have honest conversations with team members at all levels of the business.
“Profit with Purpose was the perfect fit for the project. They know that a successful ESG directive needs to align with the business strategy. It was clear that the team Isabel Kelly brought together, including associates Jo Goddard and Leigh Thompson, had the knowledge, methodology and expertise to carry this out.” said Mark.
“Isabel’s experience on the board at The Panoply, another AIM-listed company, was invaluable. She understood the issues we were facing, how to work with a business of our size and how to communicate with the board.”
A reason for being
To understand Aferian’s business, its ESG appetite, and key projects – particularly around employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and supporting future talent – Profit with Purpose started by speaking to Aferian’s management. These conversations revealed awareness of environmental issues related to product packaging, business travel and energy use, but also that there was more they could be doing.
The Profit with Purpose team heard praise for CEO Donald McGarva for his values and leadership – and learned from Donald about ‘Ikigai’: which translates as ‘a reason for being’ and having a meaningful direction or purpose in life.
Profit with Purpose recognised the significance of Ikigai to his leadership style and to the company culture, and understood that Aferian’s ESG strategy should align to it.
“Ikigai personifies Aferian as a people-driven organisation,” explained Mark.
“Profit with Purpose understood its importance and ran with the idea, incorporating it into their work and using it to help develop and underpin our ESG strategy.”
Creating the vision
The conversations with management and the wider employee base made it clear to Profit with Purpose that there was a desire within Aferian to move forward with embedding ESG into the organisation.
A key step was to help Jamie Mackinlay, SVP Global Sales and Marketing, and his marketing team to write Aferian’s ESG vision statement. Now published in their annual report, this statement forms the foundation of Aferian’s ESG framework and ongoing activity, and will inform how they measure success:
In everything we do, we are mindful of our responsibility to ensure a diverse workforce and a positive work environment; to source responsibly through our supply chain; to reduce our impact on the planet and to engage compassionately with our communities.
Tying the vision statement to tangible, measurable objectives is essential to embedding purpose into an organisation. Profit with Purpose initially identified nine of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals most relevant to Aferian, for them to narrow down.
“We were at risk of trying to spread ourselves too thinly to make any kind of impact,” explained Mark.
“Profit with Purpose helped us to narrow down our options and define something we could implement and progress.”
Supply chain governance
Aferian works with component manufacturers in China and Taiwan, and, though among the smaller players in the market, they wanted to gain an even greater knowledge of their suppliers’ manufacturing processes and understand how to mitigate ESG-related risk.
Profit with Purpose reviewed Aferian’s existing supply chain governance process and recommended next steps such as developing a comprehensive risk register and a standard ESG process for all of its suppliers. They also encouraged Aferian to consider joining supply chain assessment organisation Sedex and industry initiatives.
Using the Framework
Aferian are now using the ESG framework to move forward on their journey – working to fulfil the vision statement and SDG commitments, and including their employees and stakeholders every step of the way.
“ESG is now truly at the heart of our company and driving our culture as an organisation. Thanks to Profit with Purpose’s expertise, hard work and due diligence, our ESG strategy is already opening us up to new business opportunities and helping us to monitor, measure and evaluate our business practices,” concluded Mark.
“We would not have arrived here without the work that Profit with Purpose did for us. They listened to our team, helped us to identify a clear path and focus our priorities – delivering a strategy that meets the requirement of our board, matches the goals and passions of our team and aligns with the direction and strategy of Aferian as a listed business.”
See Aferian’s Investor Centre for their ESG Report, commitments and actions.