How ESG can drive success in the new business landscape

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives have become hugely significant for businesses in the last couple of years as consumers increasingly take notice of climate policies, sustainability and social responsibility.

This is also true amongst professionals considering new opportunities, meaning strong ESG initiatives can be instrumental in attracting and retaining top talent. To investigate this topic further, PageGroup hosted a webinar, led by Alex Hall, Head of Customer Development, with a panel of experts:

They discussed how to embark on a corporate ESG journey, the most important factors connecting ESG with other aspects of business, and real-life examples of ESG successes and pitfalls to learn from.

Increasing engagement with ESG

During the webinar, audience members were asked where their company currently is in terms of developing and executing an ESG strategy:

  • 13% said their organisation has an ESG policy in place
  • 16% do not have an ESG policy in place
  • 4% are not sure
  • 2/3 said their company is currently building an ESG policy

The results highlight that we are at a turning point for ESG policy, with the majority of businesses having recognised its importance, but most still working to implement a strategy across their organisation.

Why is ESG important?

The speakers focused on different aspects of ESG: Chris spoke about environmental priorities, Stephen looked at the social implications, and Madeleine addressed governance. Together, the three strands interweave as part of a complex trend which is important for many different reasons.

For example, Chris highlighted the effects that environmental changes will have on business in the future, as organisations do more to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and confront challenges like rising oil prices and dwindling natural resources. He noted that there is potential for prosperity among businesses that can rise to these challenges and adapt to the “new energy reality”, but that those who fail to adjust quickly enough will struggle.

An expert Q&A

After the initial presentations, audience members were invited to ask questions to the panel. Here are some of the highlights.

How do we get started with ESG?

Chris: “For me, the starting point as an organisation is to understand the ‘why’. Understanding why you’re doing this determines the extent to which you manage the challenge. I’ve had experiences working with companies where the ‘why’ was very personal. In some cases, personal attacks on business leaders can bring about financial challenges. In others, people just think it is the right thing to do, which can also be an important driver. In the medium term, understand what the law is, how it links back to business factors, and how that’s going to give longevity to your programmes.”

How can we activate an ESG policy across an organisation?

Stephen: “Bring it to life. Engage not just employees, but also stakeholders, with what you’re trying to do. Any subject has the potential to be boring. If you bring it to life, people can see why it’s important, how it affects them and why they should care. One way to do this is with personal stories from individuals in your business, talking about their background and their journey. Make sure you choose a really diverse range of people. This can have an amazing impact and really transform people’s views.”

What is the main challenge of implementing ESG in a large organisation?

Madeleine: “A significant one is working through the data that is out there in the external world. ESG rating agencies have their own different metrics and new regulations are causing more confusion, with companies not necessarily knowing how to measure it. That can make it hard to track ESG or to make sure that we are all talking about the same measurement. The industry is still developing, with new types of tools, analytics and data that can be tracked, so I think we’re going to continue to see that over the next couple of years.”

What’s next?

To get immediate access to the complete broadcast on-demand, or signup for any of our upcoming ESG webinars, register your interest today. Want to learn more about how ESG can drive business growth in 2022? Or learn exactly what skillsets you need to do that? Get in touch for a confidential discussion about how we can help with your hiring needs.

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