The Path to Sustainable Trading: Exploring diversity and sustainable practices at industry events

By Duncan Higgins, Founder and CEO, Sustainable Trading


As we reach the point in the summer where more of us look to take time off and recharge our batteries, it’s a good time to look back on the activities from the first half of the year.  For the team at Sustainable Trading, one of the key moments was our involvement at TradeTech Europe.  

It was great to be back in Paris once again for TradeTech. It’s an important date in our calendar, as it is for much of the trading community – an opportunity to build and maintain relationships with our members and make new connections with potential future members.

In such an electronic industry it’s great to remind each other that we are part of a community with shared goals. Face-to-face encounters are particularly valuable, whether they’re from a conference stage or during our well-attended drinks reception. Or this year, even on a bike, alongside the 15 who participated in our sponsored cycle journey from Paris back to London. Not only was this a great way to raise funds for good causes, it was also an important opportunity for Sustainable Trading to increase the awareness of the carbon impact of travel and highlight ways this can be managed.


Diversity and Inclusion 

One of the recurring themes in my discussions during and since the event was the lack of diversity on panels. This is not a new conversation, but the volume and frequency of discussions on the subject has certainly increased. It’s something that applies generally to events in our industry and is a topic we’ve been discussing with conference organisers as well as with our members. I think it’s important to recognise what is behind this and understand what each firm and individual can do to help change things for the better.

Without accurate data on industry diversity, we are only able to use our own assessment and anecdotal observations shared with us to make a judgement on diversity levels. Within those limitations, I think we can safely say that our industry is much less diverse than we would like it to be. This lack of diversity is then amplified within senior leadershippersonnel, who are exactly the individuals that firms call on to speak at industry eventsNo wonder that the stage is less diverse than the audience, who themselves could be more representative of our society.

This has been one of the areas of focus for the Sustainable Trading Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group. Our best practice on diverse panels and media representation requires firms to have a process for selecting speakers for events that considers diverse talent, supports speakers by providing training (if needed), and helps develop those with the potential to represent the firm in future.

From the start of our initiative, Sustainable Trading has been strongly supported by the TradeTech team and it’s great to see them continuing to play their part to drive change in our industry. From providing us with a platform to address the audience, to their choice of conference chairs and moderators and their encouragement of sponsors to put forward more diverse speakers, they are acting where they’re able. Most of the change we want to see must come from the industry, and it’s great that both our members and the team at TradeTech recognise this and are prepared to help address it.

As an organisation, we actively worked to ensure diversity was considered during our own activities at this year’s TradeTech. Our panel at the event included a diverse set of members and views that we hope are representative not only of the current state of the industry but also of where it’s heading. We were delighted to have such a range of different members join us on stage, and it was great to hear from those with considerable experience in the industry as well as those in the early stages of their career journey.


Survey on Sustainability

We also worked in partnership with the team at TradeTech to survey exhibitors about their approach to sustainability for the event. We had great uptake for the voluntary survey with the majority of exhibitors taking part. It was also encouraging to see how many firms had started to employ more sustainable practices, with 4 in 5 firms now using QR codes to reduce the number of physical brochures, for example. However, the survey also gave a very clear indication of how far the industry has to go. The weighted survey scores showed a median result of just 31%, demonstrating that there is lots of room for improvement. We look forward to working with firms to help them achieve this.

Identifying ways to make conference attendance more sustainable is one part of a much broader set of best practices that Sustainable Trading is building with and for our members. The development and implementation of the best practices are at the core of our work.

These best practices encourage the development of a more equitable, diverse, and sustainable trading industry – an industry that’s fit for the future and that responds to the specific challenges we face not only as businesses but as citizens of a rapidly changing world.


We’re always interested in speaking to businesses and individuals who share these principles, and who want to collaborate to make them real together. If that’s you, please do get in touch to explore how we can work together and help improve the sustainability of our industry.