LONDON — Specialist agency  Seahorse Environmental have made two senior hires to launch a reputation audit service that will help companies to assess their environmental reputation, strategy, risks and opportunities.

Former MP and UK environment minister Richard Benyon and the John Lewis Partnership’s former director of sustainability Benet Northcote (pictured) – also previously a chief policy advisor to Greepeace – have joined the agency as senior advisors to lead the new offer, alongside Seahorse’s managing director Isabella Gornall.

The new service will provide intelligence on how clients are perceived by NGOs, parliamentarians, media outlets and businesses, as well as recommendations on any weaknesses and areas for improvement.

The agency’s aim is that the reputational audit will help businesses to develop sustainability strategies by considering their current environmental reputation and where they might be criticised for falling short on ESG targets; identifiying commercial risks and opportunities that might arise from future campaigns, events, trends, legislative or regulatory changes; developing their sustainability strategy to become environmental thought leaders; and advising on rapid response to an environmental emergency.

Gornall said: “I am delighted to welcome Richard and Benet, two of the UK’s leading environmental experts, as we launch our new reputational audit. Their political, NGO and corporate experience matched with Seahorse’s own network across the environment sector makes Seahorse uniquely placed to offer honest and valuable advice to companies wishing to take stock of where they are and where they want to get to.”

Seahorse was launched by Gornall in 2018 after a career in politics – including as policy advisor to environmental campaigner and MP Zac Goldsmith – and in corporate communications at Burson-Marsteller and Maitland, where she headed environmental practice Maitland Green.

Seahorse specialises in political campaigns and communications programmes to enhance the natural environment and the commercial success of clients, who include Greenpeace, WWF, Ovo Energy and Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans.

Northcote said: “Mainstream approaches to sustainability are quickly becoming outdated, and businesses that were once credible are now in danger of being left behind. Through our joint experience, we will enable companies to develop and drive forward strategies that are at the leading edge of sustainability, to be aligned with all of Seahorse’s current clients and to position themselves as market leaders in the environmental space.”

Benyon added: “The natural world is in unprecedented decline and with increasingly sophisticated scrutiny from NGOs, the investment community and employees, the private sector is stepping up to address and solve environmental challenges. Seahorse is immersed in the grassroots of these issues with an extensive network, and a nuanced understanding of what is needed to ensure sustainability strategies, campaigns or commercial proposals are both effective and well received by target stakeholders.”