Businesses on a global scale continue to give more attention and resources to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns. The “Green” movement (the lessening of a company’s negative environmental impact) has transformed into ESG. Companies are being urged to consider:
- (E) environmental criteria, encompassing climate-related risks, energy consumption, carbon emissions and climate change
- (S) social impact, otherwise known as the way a company manages relationships with employees, customers, and communities
- (G) governance, including system of practices, controls, and other procedures companies use to govern themselves
The evolution of sustainable or “green” practices into ESG reveals a significant shift in the approach companies use to proactively impact company finances, employee satisfaction, and environmental footprint. In other words, this evolution to ESG creates higher value.
Why Businesses Should Adopt ESG Practices
Some sustainability-focused companies are furthering ways to improve ESG insights, while many others are only beginning to collect ESG data and implement new policies. These strategies are constantly evolving, but here are a few key points outlining the importance of ESG for companies:
1. ESG Impacts Financial Performance
Research has shown that companies with strong sustainability programs have outperformed those without – by a wide margin. Investing in sustainability can create cost savings and improve efficiency, which leads to better profitability over the long term.
Investors are recognizing the value and importance of ESG performance, and they are making investment choices based on companies that have a strong commitment to ESG. This provides a unique opportunity to further develop sustainable business models, which can help companies grow while benefiting their customers and employees.
Prioritizing ESG improves a business’s financial standing by providing cost savings through efficiency improvements, reducing risk, and increasing profitability with access to new markets. In fact, McKinsey and Company’s research links ESG to cash flow in five ways:
- Facilitates top-line growth
- Reduces costs
- Minimizes regulatory and legal interventions
- Increases employee productivity
- Optimizes investment and capital expenditures
2. ESG Is Good for Your Brand
Consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing products and services from companies that align with their personal values. Environmental, social, and governance factors are three important qualities consumers consider when making purchasing decisions. A strong ESG strategy can help your company attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Companies with ESG policies are considered more trustworthy than those without. Transparency and communication are key to upholding brand approval.
ESG can have a positive impact on brand reputation through increased trust, appeal and loyalty among consumers, which creates opportunities for improved market share.
3. ESG Is Good for the Environment
Sustainable business practices play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving resources, and preventing pollution. The implementation of environmentally-friendly business practices not only helps protect our planet, but can also save companies money over time by developing long-term alternatives.
We must act on climate change, and sustainable businesses are a key part of the solution. Implementing ESG strategies can help reduce an organization’s detrimental impact on the environment while also preparing for the challenges posed by climate change.
4. ESG Makes Social Sense
By implementing policies that support employee well-being and protect workers’ rights, companies can create a more uplifting workplace culture.
Effective ESG policies foster a more productive, transparent, and collaborative workplace culture. Studies have shown that companies prioritizing social impact have more satisfied employees and employees who are motivated to act in a prosocial way. ESG makes social sense by providing opportunities for better collaboration on workspaces, increasing well-being among employees, and reducing poverty and inequality.
Tips for Firing up Your Company’s ESG Practices
Developing and implementing ESG business practices in your company might seem overwhelming, but the rewards are worth it. Keep in mind these key tips throughout the journey:
● Do your research: You don’t have to start from scratch. There’s plenty of research and best practices available on how other companies have implemented successful sustainability and ESG strategies and why it made sense financially, socially, and so on.
● Look for resources: Many organizations offer information, resources, and networking opportunities specifically centered around sustainable business practices. This can help you find like-minded individuals and build a community of people to guide your efforts.
● Listen and engage your team: ESG practices should be collaborative. Make sure your team members know their roles and are comfortable with company objectives. Involving your team in these strategies can heighten the sense of responsibility and increase morale.
● Evaluate your progress regularly: Make sure to evaluate where your company currently stands on ESG factors and can easily identify areas for improvement. Set clear, measurable goals for the future and ensure you are continuously communicating your progress. This will keep you accountable for your efforts and results.
The importance of ESG in business practices is clear. Implementing an ESG initiative within your organization may feel daunting, but with the right resources, it’s achievable. By conducting your research and engaging your team in the process, you’ll be well on your way. Measuring and managing your progress will help ensure that you’re making the most of your efforts and reaching your goals. The future of your company is in your hands. ESG will help you stay competitive, grow and remain relevant in the next decade and beyond.