Sep 1st 2021

ESG is key to long-term business health post-Covid

As economies rebuild after the Covid crisis, business leaders could be forgiven for not having environmental welfare at the top of their agenda.

But after such prolonged disruption, we have to acknowledge that the regrowth and long-term wellbeing of enterprise depend upon resilience.

Committing to eco-friendly initiatives, diversity, and the many other concerns that fall under the Environmental Social Governance (ESG) umbrella, is essential if we are to create healthy recovery strategies and sustainable communities for the future.

The case for ESG

Despite events of the last 18 months, sustainability and environmental issues remain a priority for consumers worldwide, a Boston Consulting Group survey says.

This applies especially to millennials and generation Z – a highly influential demographic that is seeking to align with companies that share the younger generations’ eco-awareness.

Failure to commit to responsibility won’t only reduce ability to attract future talent, it will also dent competitive edge: research shows that a strong ESG proposition correlates with top-line growth, cost reductions, improved productivity, and other key benefits that create value.

These realities are set against a momentous political backdrop – the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow in November. As the summit approaches, investors are increasingly calling for an economy built on resilience to environmental risk, while Charles Dumas, chief economist at TS Lombard has underlined how governments should be working to improve renewable energy infrastructures.

Action you can take

There are many ways that chiefs can improve a firm’s ESG proposition and begin laying the foundations for future sustainability. The points below will help you start your journey.

  • Working from Home (WFH)

The pandemic has shown that we can use WFH effectively. By continuing to rely on technology, by using co-working hubs, and remote working, we can build efficiency while minimising the time employees spend on the road.

“There’s no easier, quicker, and cheaper way to reduce your carbon footprint than by reducing commuter travel,” president of Global Workplace Analytics, Kate Lister says.

  • Commit to being green

We often pay lip service to eco-friendly behaviours, but they should be factored into formal policy. Turning off electronics when they’re not in use, using LED lightbulbs, and creating a paperless environment are just a few of the practices that can measurably reduce expenditure while saving energy at home and in the office.

  • Partner with the community

Senior policy fellow at LSE, Mary Martin advises: “Working with communities…to protect people and address a mosaic of issues that affect their lives must become a core facet of corporations’ business models.”

We can do this by reaching out to our neighbours: contact local businesses, organisations and individuals to find out how your firm can support the nearby network. This is your chance to contribute to a clean regional economy while establishing your brand as a force for good.

  • Invest in people

Seek to hire individuals who have proven ESG credentials or a relevant educational record. This could tie in with providing specific training for your existing team.

Research shows that cognitive diversity makes teams better at problem solving. Greater variability across gender, ethnicity and age groups will not only enrich your corporate intelligence but will also cultivate higher performance and promote resilience in the long-term.

Our green future starts today

ESG integrity and reduced consumption of resources have become business imperatives. By taking small steps at minimal cost, companies can begin to nurture the right practices. But action is needed across the value chain.

As the events of the past year have taught us, failing to prepare and learn from our experiences may prove far costlier.

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