For the third consecutive year, VetStrategy and IVC Evidensia have published an update on sustainability progress and achievements within the 2023 Positive Pawprint Report.

Positive Pawprint defines and guides IVC Evidensia’s efforts to be a force for good in the veterinary sector, based on three pillars – People, Planet and Patients. Positive Pawprint supports the Group’s purpose of Healthy Animals, Happy Owners – protecting the health and happiness of customers and their animals – more than 9.7 million worldwide in 2023.

On the launch of the Positive Pawprint Sustainability Strategy in 2021, IVC Evidensia outlined commitments for its operations around the world and promised to publish annual reports on performance against a set of stretching sustainability targets. Key elements of the strategy include enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, empowering clinics to contribute to their local communities, continuing to deliver the highest possible standards of care quality and safety, and de-carbonizing operations to reach net-zero by 2050. The 2023 report demonstrates the progress being made across all aspects of the strategy and across IVC Evidensia globally.

View the report here

Key achievements in 2023 include: 

  • 85% of electricity across the Group now coming from renewable sources, working towards our goal to reach net-zero by 2050  
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion with 50% of senior roles now filled by women, and 47 students now being supported through our diversity scholarships in the UK and 10 in Canada 
  • Over 5,000 patients provided with lifesaving treatment through the IVC Evidensia Care Fund 

People

IVC Evidensia’s commitment to Healthy Animals, Happy Owners is intrinsically linked to the skills, knowledge and well-being of our more than 41,000 colleagues around the world. This is why the People strategy is at the core of Positive Pawprint, focusing on making IVC Evidensia a great place to work where employees flourish as individuals.  

Protecting and promoting the well-being of our colleagues is a key priority and we now support well-being and mental health programs across all of our 20 markets. While programs vary country-by-country to account for local needs and culture, have made great progress in 2023 across our operations.  

This includes the launch of a psychological support service in Spain earlier this year and training clinic members in Canada and the UK in Mental Health First Aid, now with over 500 colleagues fully trained in the UK in partnership with MHFA England.

Another key area of our people strategy is learning and development to foster professional growth and enhance patient care. This year we have invested approximately $34 million in professional development across the Group, prioritizing access to a diverse range of educational opportunities.  

Central to our educational efforts is the Learning Hub digital platform which is now accessible to over 95% of our employees and offers content in multiple languages.  

With the ongoing challenge with availability of qualified vets across the whole sector, we are highly committed to helping young vets have a positive and inspiring start to their careers. In 2023 we welcomed over 450 graduates from across eight countries to our International Graduate Academy which blends traditional and online learning with coaching support. In addition, we ran immersive week-long bootcamps in equine and farm clinics, focusing on hands-on learning experiences and covering key skills in a supportive environment.  

We remain focused on ensuring that IVC Evidensia is a welcoming and inclusive workplace and have seen great progress against our targets in 2023. We set a goal to have women in half of all senior roles by 2025 and are pleased to have achieved this during 2023. Our focus now is on further work to ensure our culture supports our women employees at all levels of the business, and to create a pipeline of women talent for senior roles. One of the ways in which we are enabling this is through our Artemis International Leaders Program – from which 20% of participants in 2022 have now moved to a new leadership role within IVC Evidensia. 

Beyond gender equality we are focused on initiatives to ensure that we are making progress in other focus areas including Ethnicity, LGBTQ+, Ability and Neurodiversity and Social Mobility. To that end in 2023 VetStrategy launched an LGBTQ2S+ Employee Resource Group, a supportive non-exclusive community, built to foster inclusivity and awareness, and contribute to personal and professional development in the workplace. 

Patients 

IVC Evidensia’s clinical vision is to create an environment where all our veterinary professionals are supported to deliver exceptional veterinary care, having the independence to tailor diagnostics and treatments to the needs of each individual patient and owner.  

A key objective of the Positive Pawprint strategy is contributing to tackling the worldwide threat of antimicrobial resistance. In 2021, IVC Evidensia set a target of reducing antibiotic use to 5% of total outpatient consultations by 2030 and over the last 12 months, we have further progressed to reduce outpatient antibiotic prescriptions. Our Farm Vets have cut antibiotic use by a massive 27% over a two-year period (2020-2022). 

As a large veterinary group, we are acutely aware of the effect that the cost-of-living crisis is having on our clients and the importance of ensuring that our services are affordable and accessible to our clients. This year, more than 5,000 animals were saved through IVC Evidensia Care Fund, well above our original target to support 1,500 clients annually set out in 2021. We have revised our target upwards (to 3,500 patients) for the year ahead to reflect a higher level of support for clients and their pets. 

Planet

Our Caring for Planet strategy addresses key global environmental threats, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion. 

Climate change is an extremely important issue for IVC Evidensia, with the potential to impact animal health, our business and supply chain in the short, medium and long term. Earlier this year, we are pleased to note that our science-based emissions targets were validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) as we work towards our target of net-zero by 2050.  

We saw operational (Scope 1 and 2) emissions fall by 3% in 2023 as we now source 85% of Group electricity from renewable sources (up from 65% in 2022). We have also continued to roll out energy efficiency upgrades across our clinic network – with LED lighting and building management systems now in place in 477 UK clinics (saving on average 40% of electricity usage and 22% gas consumption). While progress has been made this year, energy efficiency remains a key focus in the year ahead across geographies.   

We are also focused on reducing waste anaesthetic gas used in surgery, without compromising patient welfare. In 2023 we expanded training in ‘low flow’ techniques, and we are investing in new clinical equipment where necessary. Additionally, we are working to improve the operational efficiency of our crematorium process to reduce carbon emissions. Deployed initiatives include staff energy-efficiency training, resulting in a 17% year-on-year fall in emissions in 2023 from our crematorium operations.   

The majority of our greenhouse gas footprint sits within Scope 3 and the pharmaceutical supply chain. As such we are collaborating with suppliers to reduce resource use, waste and pollution linked to our products and over 90% (by value) of pharmaceutical suppliers have committed to set science-based targets by June 2025. During the year, we have taken procurement decisions and worked with our suppliers to reduce our impact. For example we saved over three tonnes of plastic by replacing syringes with models which use 30% less plastic, reduced the volume of plastic in our UK operations by reducing the use of buster collars by 23% (saving 7.5 tonnes of plastic) and ensured that 86% of our packaging is now recyclable, compostable or reusable.   

In May 2023, Canadian clinics took on a biodiversity project through Aleks’ Promise, a national program to address mental health and limit stressors impacting animal health professionals daily, planting native wildflower seeds at clinics across Canada. 

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