Your ESG work can deliver much more value if you democratize it throughout your organization.
ESG has quickly become THE standard for sustainability frameworks, followed closely by the SDGs, and, increasingly, reported on through the GRI Standards.
The ESG framework, especially if integrated with the SDG framework, can deliver value from the grassroots, project level to the global corporate reporting level in your organization. ESG performance, reporting and communication can be valuable at every aspect of your operations.
ESG Metrics have become standard criteria for investors and this has caught the attention of CEOs, CFOs and others in the C Suite. But, too often it stops there.
They recognize the need to respond on a corporate level and start organizing to deliver reporting on ESG performance. This generally sends queries and demands into the bowels of the organization, demanding data and information. Unfortunately, these demands are too often void of any explanation as to why or the value the information can provide for the company.
The reality is that much of the ESG work, especially the ES aspect of it, takes place on the front lines. At the operational units and field and project level. This is where the demands for data go.
Too often the demands for ESG data are heavily focused on quantitative data so that is what gets reported back up. Yet, the activities and projects that the data is derived from, often have incredibly interesting stories to go along with them.
Stories about people and innovation, about stakeholder engagement and value creation, about environmental stewardship and win-win strategies.
These stories can bring life to the data, making it more interesting and relevant, internally, and to external stakeholders. Interesting sidebar stories in ESG and Sustainability Reports get Noticed, Repeated and Remembered – and make an impact far beyond bare numbers.
And, including these stories will engage the front-line team that is gathering the data and their colleagues in a much more participatory way.
The value doesn’t end there. Sustainability Communications is an increasingly important aspect of maximizing the ROI on Sustainability Investments.
Making sure that stakeholders at all levels, including internal stakeholders, know and understand the sustainability impacts produces value on many dimensions.
The ESG and SDG frameworks offer an ideal framework for sustainability communications, one that can be intuitively understood at all levels. And, better yet, it is easy to do.
Start by taking a list of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and going through them one by one, noting each goal that is impacted by the project or activity. Where possible use both qualitative and quantitative data. Don’t forget to include pictures and video.
This is a quick, simple method of creating an SDG Impact Report. (See example here from Baraka Impact)
The next step involves aligning the SDG Impact Report with the ESG Framework. For each SDG, assign it to one of the three ESG Pillars, E, S or G.
Some may seem to fit on more than one pillar but it is important to ensure that each SDG is assigned to only one pillar.
Let that organize your report and you have an easily understood framework for communicating SDG and ESG impact at the project/front-line level. And a great framework to allow it to be brought into higher level reports as a sidebar or other way to bring your corporate level reporting alive.
Remember, your ESG work can deliver much more value if you democratize it throughout your organization. And, you will find you get better data and information for your corporate level reports.
ESG, Sustainability & CSR should be as much a business value driver as it is a social and environmental value driver. If it gets out of balance it creates risk and makes the sustainability and indeed, even the business itself, potentially less sustainable.
Business is about creating value. CSR, ESG and Sustainability are also about creating value; value for society, for environment and for shareholders.
Thanks for reading
Prof. Wayne Dunn
President & Founder