Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) is a conversation taking place in the boardroom of most businesses today. It’s still a new frontier for many organisations looking to build a framework around their commitment to be socially and commercially responsibility.
The discourse suggests it’s no longer a ‘nice to have,’ but an expectation, and, in some cases, a determining factor for investor and consumer purchasing decisions. An organisation’s ESG strategy has even been referenced as its social licence to operate.
A robust ESG strategy is about ‘doing the right thing’, but also building trust and equity between a business and its stakeholders, ensuring there is alignment between stakeholder expectations and a business’ actual behaviour and operation. Research supports this: according to corporate reputation management firm Reptrak, 63% of customers will walk if your actions don’t align with your values.
So where does communication come into play?
Once the ESG strategy is bedded down, serious consideration must be given to how the business communicates about the execution of its ESG commitments and activities. Investors, consumers and other major stakeholder groups need to see that businesses are genuine
Regular public-facing reporting is a part of this, through a quarterly or annual business ESG report, for example; and, doing so effectively can promote quantifiable measures of how your business is creating real sustainable and societal impact, using metrics that matter to investors and customers.
Whether it be driving initiatives to further Reconciliation or progressing the journey to net zero, your stakeholders want to see, hear and understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what impact it is creating. At the same time, while intentions are good, consumers are now hyper-aware of PR-facilitated “greenwashing” and “virtue-signalling”. You need to consider what methods, channels, tone and frequency are going to be most appropriate for your audiences.
Regardless of your stance on ESG, ultimately, public opinion favours organisations working towards a better future through authentic environmental consideration and social action. This can be a daunting venture, but, with the help of a strategic communication team, you can develop a roadmap of communication activity to inspire awareness, engagement and confidence among investors and consumers.
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