For climate, communities, and our kids

Having been in business for 86 years, Interflow has proven it knows a thing or two about longevity. According to Richard McCarthy, Interflow’s Executive General Manager — Southern Region, that requires an all-encompassing sustainability strategy.

Having been in business for 86 years, Interflow has proven it knows a thing or two about longevity. According to Richard McCarthy, Interflow’s Executive General Manager — Southern Region, that requires an all-encompassing sustainability strategy.

“As a business, we are constantly thinking about the needs of the next generation,” said Richard McCarthy, Interflow’s Executive General Manager — Southern Region. “That’s the way it has always been. This business has proven it will be around for many generations to come.”

As one of the longest-serving private businesses in Australia, Interflow has always appreciated the necessity of shaping the business – its practices, processes, and purpose – around the needs and expectations of current and future generations.

Sometimes that forward-thinking has to do with innovation. Often it has to do with professionalism and skills. And it is always related to good commercial decision-making. But today, there’s another vital ingredient in the recipe for business success – ESG, or environmental, social and governance. For many team members, this is personal.

“I’ve got three kids, all at university age and older. Your own kids make you realise it’s not just about your time here. It’s about what you’re leaving behind,” McCarthy said.

It’s also a beautiful engineering challenge for McCarthy around how to do the work Interflow does economically and environmentally pragmatically.

“How do we navigate our way through our work so it all makes sense?” he said. “Of course, it’s about doing things differently. But we all know that when we work sustainably, it just feels right.”

Interflow’s customers also have expectations of the contractors they bring on board. But the company doesn’t want that to be the driver of its core ESG priorities.

“We’re building an ESG strategy because it makes sense in every way as a business and community member,” McCarthy said. “We’re doing it because it’s the right thing for us to do.”

Creating Interflow’s ESG strategy

As outlined in its sustainability framework, Interflow is developing an ESG strategy around three core areas.

Interflow’s ESG strategy revolves around these three areas:

  • Our environment: encompassing climate change and environmental management.
  • Our communities: including health and safety, and diversity and inclusion.
  • Our business: incorporating sustainable growth and supply chain.

“Our ESG strategy is looking at what we can add next,” McCarthy said. “What can we do well that will make a real difference to the business, our customers and our community?”

McCarthy pointed out that there are things around environment management that Interflow wants to perfect.

“So much of what we do is out in the environment, and when we get it right, we’re building a better environment,” he said. “There’s a focus on community engagement because we are in people’s back gardens, national parks, and roads. We’ve got to get that part right, too.”

Interflow’s partners are vital to the plan’s success

A critical factor in creating the Interflow ESG strategy, which will always be a work in progress, is that not everything is under Interflow’s control. Eighty-three per cent of carbon emissions connected with Interflow’s work come from third-party supplier purchases.

“It can be perceived that these are outside our control, but they’re not outside our influence,” McCarthy said. “We have several core suppliers, so it becomes about how we work with them to influence what they do. That’s one of the exciting things about the net-zero challenge – nobody can do it in isolation. It’s all about how we work with the organisations we work for and the organisations that work with us.”

ESG is much more than net zero

It’s always important to remember that net zero is just one part of ESG. Another focus area of the ESG strategy is inclusion and diversity. The overwhelming evidence around the phenomenal power and performance of a workforce with diverse perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking drives this.

“We’re creating an all-encompassing ESG framework for three reasons,” McCarthy said. “One is that it’s so clearly aligned to Interflow’s purpose. We’re not delivering on our purpose if we don’t do it. The second is that it just makes good business sense. Sustainability will save the business money, open new opportunities, and enhance our reputation. Finally, it just feels right. When you work for organisations that are only about making a profit, it just doesn’t feel right.”

Enhancing the existing ESG work

“One of the greatest realisations is how much Interflow is already doing in terms of sustainability. As soon as we put a framework in place that allowed us to measure our sustainability performance, we recognised that we were doing quite well. The power then becomes about enhancing this across the business,” he said.

Success is, to a large extent, about the little things people do daily. It ranges from the crew leader who switches off the generator whenever possible, to the job scheduler who organises teams to attend local jobs, to the buyer who chooses to purchase from a supplier with a low embedded-carbon product.

Some solutions are as simple as sequencing work to ensure Interflow teams are not zig-zagging back and forth across cities to various jobs. Instead, they should be attending projects in a more logical, linear fashion. Interflow team members can further reduce emissions by taking a more straightforward path.

“We’re taking quite a methodical approach to our path to net zero,” McCarthy said.

“We don’t know exactly what it looks like yet, but we do know we’ve got to meet the ambition of our customers. And we know we want to do it in a way that doesn’t leave us running around like an under-seven soccer team, chasing the next thing. We want to do this as a coordinated unit.”

Interflow’s people expect nothing less

A clear ESG strategy is not negotiable for the Interflow team. McCarthy said people want to work for an organisation that aligns with their values and beliefs. They also expect honesty – which is one of Interflow’s core values.

“We’re constantly developing our ESG strategy,” he said. “But it’s also important that we’re open and honest about what we can do and where we don’t yet have the answers. The last thing we want is any form of greenwashing.

“Our people want their employer to work with purpose. Our community expects and requires our care and attention in everything we do. And as an organisation, we have powerful expectations around how we work. That’s why we’re putting so much effort into it now.”

Find out more about Interflow’s Sustainability Framework and ESG Strategy at

Related Articles:

Send this to a friend