Where there was once an imperative need for businesses to address CSR (corporate social responsibility), the focus has now shifted to ESG — environmental, social and governance. While they may intersect in many ways, one does not replace the other. They operate as independent functions within a business.
In order for a company’s ESG strategy to result in success, it must be clearly defined — not just by a simplified statement on a website. It must embody what a business actually does, and aspires to do, so as to meet its targets. Many companies are engaging with the planet’s needs in the face of the climate crisis, through investing in sustainability and genuine commitment to reducing their environmental impact. But how is this achieved without coming across as jumping on the Cop26 bandwagon and making empty, unsubstantiated promises?
An ESG strategy should clearly set out what drives a company’s activities and provide well-conceived metrics that describe the environmental impact as part of conducting business. It must be a compelling and unifying idea underpinned by robust key messages backed up by evidence.
Companies that want to stand out will (or should) have a communications strategy that sets out how they will achieve net-zero. Combining strong reporting with a transparent explanation of how environmental impact scoring was achieved, will help any company with an ESG commitment to tell its story in a powerful and credible way. The groundwork for this begins with strong internal communication. When employees are truly connected and informed of the greater good of a company’s ESG efforts and thus participate in its mission both within and outside the company, they reinforce the commitment externally.
If there’s a gap between what is said and what is done, clients will be the first to see it.
Clients measure success with physical intelligence — the delivery of goods. It’s not enough to just talk about it. For an ESG strategy to be meaningful, companies need to be able to show it. There must be examples of the strategy in action. You can only bring your sustainability strategy to life through credible reporting, genuine engagement, compelling stories and transparent communication.
One of the most powerful ways to introduce ideas to the world is by social media. Environmental and social concerns are often first voiced and are increasingly played out and amplified on social media. Its hyper-visibility and reach can get conversations, content, movements and activism to develop at lightning speed. It is therefore essential for a company’s strategy and communications to keep up with the pace not only for relevancy but for results.