Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). We (EcoOnline) put out a survey to a variety of companies and asked them questions regarding sustainability and how they see ESG in their workplace. Along with this, we facilitated a webinar with two ESG professionals: Louis Wustemann, health, safety and environmental business consultant and former Environment in Business Magazine, Health and Safety editor, and Gary Morgan, founder of Biome (now part of EcoOnline), who has been an ESG expert for over 15 years. Throughout the webinar, we were able to discuss the findings of the survey, and what the future of ESG is looking like.
The most critical findings that were discovered through the survey were:
- 46% of those surveyed believe that ESG is just box ticking, and not something of real importance
- Overall, 12% reported that they lost business due to ESG reporting (or the lack thereof)
- The biggest force of pressure towards companies to report their ESG is coming from customers
Beginning with the survey, the demographics consisted of 124 organizations, 2/3 of which are based in Britain and Ireland. The largest sector represented was construction, with about 17% of the companies, and the other 83% representing of a multitude of other business types. The size of these companies ranged from small to large, with the greatest amount being in the medium-large category, and respondents from the organizations also varied in job position, with the highest group consisting of Occupational Health and Safety Managers.
During the webinar, the hosts were able to use their shared knowledge of ESG to bring two similar but varying perspectives. While watching, it was clear that both speakers want to bring ESG to the forefront, by referencing the name of the webinar, “The Rising Tide”. The time we are currently in is truly the rising tide, the concern for environmental, social and governance impacts is at an all-time high, and it will just keep rising. ESG data is only going to become more valuable, and the sooner it is widely adopted, the better.
Morgan during the webinar stated, “The valuable thing here is that data is being captured, (the environmental and the social data)… there’s more value being placed on environmental and social data because stakeholders want some interpretation to be able to place value on your company” (6:45).
Morgan is entirely true, and as we saw in the survey, the stakeholders who are the most pressing for ESG data are the customer. Living in a world where we are catering towards consumer desire, we need to capitalize on this area, and it would be foolish to let this pass us by. For example, Fidelity Investments, based in Boston, Massachusetts, has recently announced a name change to Fidelity Sustainable (20:00) and are trailblazing their way to being an ESG conscious and sustainable investment firm. Intertwining their values with their business is something we will be seeing a lot more of in the future, as consumers continue to drive business and ethical decision-making.
Government programs continue to take heed by adding more initiatives and directives in respect to ESG. In the UK, one program is, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), which makes it mandatory for large UK businesses to annually report their energy and carbon emissions, as well as any efficiency measures. Overall, in the coming years there will be a continuous influx of more sustainability directives that form new regulations and standards for accountability and comparability (16:00).
As many may have thought, the COVID-19 Pandemic did not slow ESG progress, and as affirmed by Louis, “if anything it had a multiplier effect” (18:05). With the pandemic being at the forefront of Health and Safety, it was adjacent to what we at EcoOnline do, with our EHS software that makes reporting ESG a simple task. As we continue to move forward, what was continually discussed in the webinar was that with there being more value added to ESG data, there is a direct link to an increase in investment into software like EcoOnline, and the more it grows, the more commonplace it will become.
Allison Slusar is currently a rising fourth year at Colorado State University studying Communication and interning at EcoOnline in Dublin this summer.
Throughout university, Allison has found a love of writing and is particularly interested in sustainability. So naturally joining a company like EcoOnline seemed like a no-brainer, combining her love of writing and sustainability and she will continue to be writing for EcoOnline till the end of July.