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ESG Manifesto For Use by Strategic Leaders

With ESG and Sustainability sitting as a consistent top-three priority for over 80% of investors you can’t afford to wait.  Start now, take action and turn ESG into your competitive advantage.

Or, sit back, take no action and watch it turn into a devastating liability.

For business today the reality is that ESG and Sustainability will either help you or hinder you.  It is either a strategic competitive advantage, or a liability that you and your investors will pay a steep price for mis-managing.

Don’t be overwhelmed.  Start where you are at with this ESG Manifesto for Strategic Leaders.  It is a Six-Step, Short-Term Strategic Action Plan.  

As you get started and lean into this you will be amazed at the results from these simple steps, and how easily the next steps will unfold

𝟭.  Identify what you are already doing

You are likely already doing far more than you realize.  Pull together a small team.  Make it a cross section, even if only 2-3 people.  

Make simple matrix like below

Simply make bullet points.  Add data if known, but don’t sweat it now.  The idea is to simply pull together what you already know and have.

Put in summary information, data, whatever you have.  You can clean it up and work on it later.  For now, just get started.

𝟮.  Understand the rapidly growing significance of ESG

ESG is, or is becoming, a critical issue for virtually all your business stakeholders including employees, investors, markets, regulators, communities and more.  This is true across industries, sectors and geographies.

When you understand this, you will realize how important it is that ESG impacts become part of what you do, top to bottom and across your entire business

You need a venture-wide approach to ESG that factors ESG impact into decisions the same as you factor in profitability and other mission-critical factors.

This doesn’t mean that ESG drives all decisions, but rather that that ESG implications are factored into your decision making process from finance to operations to strategy to engineering to HR and beyond.

𝟯.  Provide access to training and thinking on value-centric ESG

Your staff likely knows far more about ESG than they, or you realize.  But, unless you help them understand what they know and how to apply it, and augment that with world-class training and support, your firm will likely struggle and it, and your career, will pay the price.

All ESG thinking and training is not equal.  World-class thinking and training will demystify ESG and makes it understandable, relevant and implementable throughout the organization.  Your success depends on your entire team, not just Ph.Ds and MBAs who thrive on complexity.

Complexity is not your friend.  If your ESG strategy is too complicated to be easily understood and communicated it is likely going to be a costly mistake.

See below for a program on ESG/Sustainability Strategy offered in Accra, Ghana in Feb. 2024.

For other upcoming programs check here

𝟰.  Use a Value-Creation Approach to ESG

ESG is not a charity agenda or philanthropic focus.  Make sure everything about your approach to and management of ESG impacts focuses on value.  And nothing else.

Social Value, Eco-system Value, Business Value.  Those are the value dimensions that should be part of your decision making framework for investments and operations.

Make your ESG investments and activities create value on all three of these dimensions.  This will ensure that your approach is sustainable, strategic and meaningful; meaningful for ESG impact and meaningful for your own business impact.

Your business is about value and your ESG strategy should be too.  Develop and use a simple framework that ensures that value creation is at the heart of your ESG strategy and spending.

And not philanthropic, save the whales value.  But real, meaningful value that resonates meaningfully with your organization, your stakeholders, your publics and the ecosystems you work in

𝟱.  ESG Reporting and Communication is Critical

Strategic, well thought out ESG communication and reporting plans will add significant incremental value to every facet of your ESG efforts.  Your stakeholders want to know about the value your ESG investments are creating and the risks they are mitigating.

From formal ESG reporting to internal and external ESG communications, reporting and communication will unlock value and help ensure organizational resilience in the turbulent times ahead.  But, remember, be humble and communicate strategically so it can be heard and so it will resonate with your audiences.

The exercise you did in Manifesto Point 1 above is a good place to start.

I always suggest identifying the main SDG impacted by each item noted and ensuring that is effectively reported on and communicated.  For those attending our trainings, we do a small workshop on that in most programs.

𝟲.  Focus on 360° of meaningful ESG value propositions

ESG investments and strategies should create 360 degrees of value.  Ensure that you and your team develop meaningful and sustainable value-propositions for internal and external stakeholders.

Implementing tis Manifesto can literally make the difference between thriving and struggling.

If you would like any support with them please reach out.   We have upcoming open registrations programs or we can provide bespoke training and consulting to support you on this important journey

Thanks for reading and all the very best in 2024

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 CSR and indeed, even the business itself, potentially less sustainable.

Business is about creating value. CSR is also about creating value; value for society, for

environment and for shareholders.

Thanks for reading

Wayne Dunn

Founder and President

CSR |ESG Institute

Prof. Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global sustainability expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and advisory service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.