In 2022, global society faces mounting challenges from climate change, pollution, socioeconomic inequality and more. As a result, businesses now face an additional challenge. When it comes to being socially responsible and sustainable, there’s no excuse for not doing the right thing. However, you can improve your bottom line by implementing strong environmental and social governance standards into your business practices.
What is ESG?
ESG stands for environmental, social and corporate governance. ESG standards are a way to measure how well a company is managing environmental factors, social factors as well as its governance factors — such as transparency and ethics.
SEE: The COVID-19 gender gap: Why women are leaving their jobs and how to get them back to work (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
It is a comprehensive framework that businesses can use to make their operations more sustainable and accountable to stakeholders. It focuses on reducing environmental impacts, respecting human rights and local communities where your business operates, reducing conflicts of interest in corporate decisions and promoting good governance principles. These principles include accountability, transparency and open dialogue with stakeholders about the risks and opportunities associated with ESG issues.
Why does ESG matter?
By implementing ESG standards, businesses can help make the world more sustainable. For example, by transitioning to renewable energy sources, you are doing your part to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change. This will result in less air pollution, cleaner water resources, better public health outcomes and increased resilience against natural disasters.
Implementing ESG practices is also good because it provides important information on the three indicators where your company falls. As a result, it helps with long-term strategic planning as well as evaluating how changes in regulations might affect your business’s financial performance or reputation. Furthermore, incorporating these principles makes employees feel empowered and valued, which improves morale and productivity.
Top 5 ways your business can benefit from incorporating ESG standards
A more sustainable business may attract investors who care about ESG factors. Investors will want to know that the company is taking action to reduce carbon emissions, improve workplace conditions and increase transparency in its supply chain.
Cost reduction and increased profits
By implementing an ESG approach to operations, you can make your business more efficient by decreasing the number of resources needed to operate. This will lead to lower costs, increased profits and better decision-making. A more sustainable business can lead to reduced costs and even improved profits.
For example, companies can reduce their operating costs by reducing waste and other environmental impacts of manufacturing operations through energy-efficient equipment or adopting environmentally friendly production processes. These cost savings can be passed on as lower prices to customers and/or reinvested in innovative products.
In addition, while sustainability initiatives often result in up-front capital expenditures, they usually also deliver long-term benefits such as a competitive advantage, productivity gains and reduced risk exposure. Furthermore, these investments often yield lower operational costs in the future.
Attract new customers, lenders and investors
One way your business can benefit from incorporating ESG standards is by attracting new customers, lenders and investors. By demonstrating your commitment to being a socially responsible company, you are more likely to attract people who align with your values and vision. This will also help you find potential partners and collaborators that may share similar interests or goals. You will also see more referrals, as these individuals often share their experiences with the businesses they support.
Investors will want to know that the company is taking action to reduce carbon emissions, improve workplace conditions and increase transparency in its supply chain. New customers, lenders and investors will appreciate the efforts made by businesses with ESG policies that consider these areas.
When your business incorporates ESG standards, you demonstrate social responsibility to customers and investors. Implementing ESG standards will likely give your business more visibility and provide greater access to potential customers, lenders or investors looking for green businesses who care about such matters as climate change mitigation, human rights issues and environmental protections.
Mitigate risks and build resilience
When businesses incorporate ESG standards, they minimize risk and maximize efficiency. However, one of the greatest challenges faced by today’s business leaders is the uncertainty created by rapid changes and disruptive technologies.
Climate change has introduced new natural resource scarcity, extreme weather events, water scarcity and food insecurity challenges. However, resilient organizations anticipate problems before they happen, invest proactively to meet future needs without compromising current performance, enhance adaptive capacity in response to evolving challenges, work across boundaries towards shared goals and have a culture that embraces change.
To create a resilient organization, businesses should apply ESG standards to address the following: product design, distribution strategy, customer service, sourcing strategy and workforce management.
Attract talent and improve employee loyalty
Employees are happier when they feel appreciated, included and respected. This is true for all workers, not just those in management positions who are typically vocal about how they feel. As a sustainable business, you can create an inclusive culture and empower employees to voice their opinions without fear of retribution. Employees are more productive, engaged and loyal to the company when they are happy.
Improved corporate Image and higher brand value
A great deal of evidence indicates companies with sustainable practices are viewed more favorably and more trustworthy than those who do not. This is because consumers today want to know what the company they purchase from or work for is doing to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure they are using resources responsibly.
When you apply ESG standards to your business, you can help maintain a positive image and build trust by ensuring you’re living up to your values and meeting your customers’ needs. This leads to higher brand value and a competitive advantage in an industry where many companies struggle to balance profit margins with ethical considerations.
To sum it up: Transparency is key
Transparency goes hand in hand with all of the benefits mentioned above; for instance, making sure information about suppliers’ labor practices is readily available helps mitigate many types of risk – financial, reputational and regulatory.
The integration of ESG standards has proven to benefit companies, including more sustainable business practices, improved risk management strategies, higher return on investments, and better corporate reputations with stakeholders and employees.
There is no downside to ensuring that every decision you make aligns with the CSR goals you’ve set for your company.