Sustainability Spotlight: A focus on people, planet and net zero - BES Group’s ESG journey

BES Group’s ESG journey predates the term itself. The firm’s authentic efforts are now leading it to pursue net zero.

With roots that stretch back to 1859, BES Group has been putting the safety of its customers first for well over a century. The provider of premium quality testing, inspection, certification and compliance solutions helps over 35,000 firms globally to manage risk, with this reach meaning it has a big role to play in leading by example.

BES Group has been independent since 2015, when Inflexion led the carve-out of British Engineering Services from RSA plc. The journey since then has been impressive on multiple levels, with a strong focus on people and the planet driving performance. The firm’s focus on safety, both in terms of its customers and its people, is ever present and has been a constant priority since day one.

Formally putting ESG on the agenda

“When I joined BES Group in 2022, the business wasn’t doing a lot of recognised ESG activity. But actually, in the social and governance areas, BES Group was already doing the right thing, just not calling it ESG,” says Walter Rowe, Group Technical Director at BES Group.

Embracing ESG as a formal focus has helped position the Group for even more activity on this front.  A materiality assessment canvassed opinions of stakeholders to understand where BES Group stood and where it needed to go.

Proof of progress includes becoming part of the UN Global Compact network, aligning on the UN’s SDGs, gaining ESGmark certification in 2023 and becoming Real Living Wage accredited that same year. “These are huge steps forward and support recruitment as well as helping us to ensure our suppliers are the right ones for us,” Walter says. He explains that while BES Group has always paid fairly, the accreditation means the companies they welcome by acquisition must now do as well.

Technology enablement

The company’s digital progress has also borne myriad benefits, including helping pave the way for its ESG journey by enabling efficiency gains for both BES Group and our customers. Initially, Inflexion’s digital support enabled BES Group to operate as an independent entity after the 2015 carve-out.  Investment into digitising and automating processes became more and more important as they continued to grow, with an apparent need to schedule work even more efficiently, in line with their customer’s needs.

Of course, the technological advancements they have made have supported their external partners no end.  As a trusted advisor, BES Group is focused on developing tools and processes that help keep their customer’s assets safe, operational and legally compliant, in the most efficient way.  Giving them quick and easy access to information and key data about their infrastructure, machinery and equipment, for example, empowers their customers to do the right thing, at the right time.  This in itself supports both their ESG agenda and their wider mission as a business.

Net zero ambitions

Most recently the leadership team has widened its focus to include carbon and is on a net zero pathway. A big part of this was establishing science-based targets (SBTs) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which means they are in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement (limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels).

Determining their baseline position was a priority as it enabled BES Group to understand which areas to address as it embarks on the pathway. A thorough assessment of the company’s current position and future plans has seen BES Group’s commit to reducing both direct emissions from owned or controlled sources by 42% by 2030 and all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain by 25% in the same timeframe and net zero by 2040. These targets are stretching but achievable with key focus areas such as sustainable energy, energy efficiency, travel optimisation and substantial focus on the supply chain particularly category 1 – purchase of goods and services.  

The path is a long and winding one: BES Group’s SBTs were baselined for 2022, submitted to the SBT initiative in August 2023, and entered the validation phase in January 2024 to demonstrate solid sustainability commitments to regulators, consumers and investors. Final validation of the targets was received in March 2024.

“As a tech-enabled company we see first-hand the benefits digital can have with this journey,” Walter says, adding that BES Group continues to develop and deploy automated planning tools to further areas of the Group. We continue to grow and improve on this in key areas like data analysis, mapping, dynamic allocation, feedback mechanisms and the consideration of AI and machine learning. Last year saw Inflexion support BES Group’s creation of a data science team which Walter explains as “crucial to maximising efficiency” for example in area of pressure, machinery and lifting inspection planning software matches engineer surveyor skills with regional needs to reduce travel-related emissions, we are focused on improvement here This is important as BES Group’s travel is 83% of its scope 1 emissions and business travel is 23% of scope 3 carbon footprint, and the engineering cross-skilling also helps forward planning as engineers retire over time. 

The firm has also launched an internal Electric Vehicle (EV) Salary Sacrifice scheme to help encourage greener travel across its team. The firm is currently transitioning over to sustainable energy across all its properties. An internal Electric Vehicle (EV) Salary Sacrifice scheme to help encourage greener travel across its team has been launched.

It's clear BES Group is taking ESG incredibly seriously – and there’s lots more to come. With 88% of the firm’s emissions Scope 3, of 67% from Category 1 which is Purchased Goods & Services there is a big focus on procurement and supply chains in the years ahead as BES strives for net zero by 2040.

Tips for setting SBTs


“It’s not a ‘today or tomorrow’ exercise but one that has taken substantial effort,” Walter says of the journey to establish validated science-based targets (SBTs). Indeed, it was more than 18 months between setting them in 2022 and receiving validation earlier this year.”


Integrity in the data and information is key. “We have eight divisions in the group and lots of different sources providing the data we need assurance on.” It’s also important to understand what it means for your business: “When you agree to set targets across E, S and G, they need to be right for you.” And if you have a plan for future acquisitions or significant organic growth, it’ll impact the numbers, just as you may need to re-baseline if you make an acquisition.


Finally, Walter recommends working with an external partner on the SBTi journey. “An experienced adviser can be hugely valuable around the nuances around the application progress, advising on the data needed, and how to substantiate it.”