The Business Case for Environmental, Social & Governance Policies
Published on 21 February 2019
How much time is spent writing policies and business plans which have the sole intention of detailing business growth, self-protection or increasing our market share? How much time is then spent developing relationships, investing in people or understanding customer needs?
They appear to be two diametrically opposed
ways of doing business. One is cold and calculating while the other is full of
emotion. Would it not seem more of a natural fit if we spoke about our business
objectives with the same emotion we spoke of our personal relationships?
What if we could add value by understanding the ‘true value’ of what we do? What is the value of doing the right thing? Can we create a competitive edge because we care passionately about what we do, how we do it and who we do it with?
Creating an Environmental, Social and Governance policy (ESG) not only challenges organizations to define their very purpose, it asks that you show how you will bring that purpose to life, how will people who work for you, with you and the communities you work within experience your authenticity. What will success look like? Once it has stated what you care about, how are you going to allow others to draw inspiration and admiration for what you are doing?
The key to a successful ESG policy will be in allowing others to see the emotional connection your organisation has to the people and communities it interacts with. How often have we heard the expression ‘people do business with people’? With an ESG policy successfully in place, corporate relationships become less reliant on individuals’ relationships.
Why should a company create an ESG Policy?
Knowledge is Power. Knowing about how and where companies operate is becoming increasingly important to the consumer. ESG policies allow businesses to interrogate their suppliers and ensure that they are performing ethically against stated objectives. Brand reputation is so important in any business, an ESG policy creates the story that allows customers and staff to believe in what the company is trying to achieve. It secures your brand reputation through being an authentic and transparent demonstration of your working practices, objectives and ambitions.
A good ESG policy should become a key indicator to the culture of the organization. It will give key signs to staff how their actions are having a direct impact on the success of the business. Creating a positive culture with a strong social purpose will also impact on staff retention and recruitment. As organisations look to recruit top talent it will create the opportunity for potential candidates to base their decisions on reported social impacts. As a consequence, your recruitment process builds on its desired culture.
How to create an ESG Policy
Fundamental to its development, is the requirement that the organization has a clear vision of what it wants to achieve:
The vision must be clearly
Objectives must be relevant to
At some stage in its
development, all employees must be involved and be able to see how their
contributions are important and play a part in the overall success of its
implementation, it cannot be the responsibility of named individuals or
departments. The skills and experience of all staff need to be harnessed so
that something bespoke and meaningful can be created.
All ESG policies should be
ambitious almost to the point of looking unachievable. This will demand that a
detailed plan accompanies the policy which describes how evidence will be
gathered and shared and ultimately demonstrates how the ‘ambition’ will be
achieved and what success will look like.
ESG is now a multimillion-dollar business. Investors are creating bespoke investment portfolios based on the strength of an organizations ESG policy. The interest in how you chose to do business is influencing investment decisions. Doing the right thing is becoming business critical.
An ESG policy allows business to take responsibility for its actions. It allows an organization to realize that they have the power to deliver change in so many ways. At the beginning, we set the question: what if we could gain a competitive edge through doing the right thing? What a powerful tool that would be. Wanting to make things better for others while growing a sustainable business. Allowing actions and stories to sell your business in ways no corporate plan could have ever outlined.
The ESG policy should support existing policies and not be a stand alone document, developed or delivered in isolation. It should reflect the history of the organisation and the aspirations of the individuals who work there.
The emotional connections between the organizations and its ESG policy can never be overstated.
Written by Paul Burns, Social Sustainability Consultant, Inogen Environmental Alliance
Participate in the 2017 GRESB Health & Well-being Module
In 2015, our Green Health Partnership research team worked with GRESB and its stakeholders to develop the first GRESB Health & Well-being Module. Last year, 174 real estate entities – 23% of all entities participating in the GRESB Real Estate Assessment – demonstrated market leadership by participating in the inaugural health-focused module. This year, participants […]
I can give you the statistics: Healthcare in America is more than 17% of the GDP. 20 diseases account for fully half of America’s health care spend, with diabetes, heart disease and hypertension being three of the top five causes. In the midst of the debate going on in the US about how to pay […]
Rob O’Halloran How the property industry is fighting the stigma of mental illness & promoting positive mental health As part of the GRESB Health and Wellbeing Week, Howard Morgan explains an important new initiative in the UK property industry. Would you tell your boss if you’ve got a sporting injury? You probably would……but would you […]