Severn Trent Water held its award-winning investor event –a sustainability-led capital markets day held at the firm’s Coventry, UK headquarters in February 2020 – just before the UK went into its first lockdown.
It was, said Richard Eadie, head of IR and sustainability at the water utility, something really new for the company. ‘Obviously you do the boilerplate capital markets days where you talk about strategy and the future but we wanted to do something different,’ he explains. ‘We felt we had quite a lot to say in this space and we wanted to really dedicate some time and focus to it.’
Severn Trent converted its office into a number of zones, each one discussing a different area of sustainability with the roughly 100 investors that came along. Eadie said his ‘heart was in his mouth’ the morning of the event as investors traveled from London for an event he described as not being very heavy on numbers or forecasts. ‘I [wasn’t] going to give them a PowerPoint presentation or any numbers they could put into their models,’ he recalls. So ‘how are they going to receive this? But it turned out brilliantly.’
As well as showcasing what the company was doing around the environment, water scarcity and net-zero carbon, Eadie says the day was very much about people: about inclusivity and diversity. So the company highlighted how it had been supporting customers who were struggling with their bills or vulnerable members of the community – but it wanted to highlight the people within the company, too.
‘We had 60 presenters from across the organization,’ explains Eadie. ‘That went from Christine [Hodgson] as the incoming chair and Liv [Garfield] our chief executive all the way through to apprentices who had recently joined and maybe come from social mobility cold spots. We had an apprentice solicitor talk about how important this role was for [her] and the impact it had had on [her] and [her] family. So it really brought home the kind of role a business can play within society and the environment.’
It was very much about linking words with actions in the minds of investors, adds Eadie: ‘That was what really shone through: that investors really started to believe our cultural story and narrative around what we’re all about, and hopefully fell in love with us a little bit.’
Watch the video below. You can jump to 8.30 to go straight to Eadie talking about why investors left with a ‘little bit of a crush’ on the company.