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Practical ways for Boards to build in ESG

There was a really positive response to my last blog post about the importance of Boards backing the ESG agenda - and that didn’t surprise me.

I’d thought that, if I’d observed the delivery of ESG as becoming a key responsibility for business leaders, then others would have too.

Fundamentally, it’s about the will to want to make changes.

So it makes sense this month to consider some practical ways that Boards can build in - and improve - environmental, social and governance standards.

There’s a common misconception that implementing an effective ESG strategy is costly and time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be.

Your workforce is your most valuable asset; tapping into your people, their passions and their enthusiasms is vital to making positive change.

Getting started

Measuring and communicating progress is part of driving ESG - and you’ll need a baseline to do it effectively.

Before adopting new policies and going about sweeping changes, businesses should take an honest look at their existing situation.

Most will find they already have policies in place. There may still be work to do - there's always room for improvement - but small changes can lead to big differences down the line.

Recruiting purposefully

Of course I’d say that - but it’s true. As Millennials dominate the job market, ESG becomes an increasing consideration for all recruiters. The workforce and candidate pool are often focused on ESG issues. They’ve grown up with them.

For this reason, measuring and communicating your ESG successes will make you a more attractive prospect to exciting young candidates and your existing workforce. Research LinkedIn in 2018 found that 71% of professionals said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that has shared values.

Meanwhile, 39%, would leave their current job if their employer were to ask them to do something with which they are unhappy ethically or morally.

Appointing an ESG Team

I spoke last time about the importance of having a Boardroom champion in ensuring ESG is considered at the highest level.

But businesses will also need buy-in on the shopfloor too. Finding advocates and ambassadors who are already instilling ESG-related values in your workplace will help bring their colleagues along on the journey.

One way to do this is to select employees who are passionate about progress. From there, they need to moved into positions where they can drive change. That enthusiasm about communicating change will encourage others to follow.

Involving everyone

Celebrate successes and encourage everyone to be the eyes and ears of adapting workflows and processes to reach your shared goal.

If everyone has a role to play when it comes to leading positive change, it’s important that everyone gets recognised for successes.

Employees are closer to the day-to-day issues and therefore also the solutions.

Some may have already made changes without realising the value of what they have done - the Board knows the value of change and can applaud it.

Looking towards partners

You can take all the right steps to achieve your own ESG goals but the issue is wider than any one business.

Think beyond the Boardroom and the Floor to the firms you work with, your supply chains, clients and associates. Do their values match up with yours? Do they share the same standards?

This is as important internally as it is externally - think back to that LinkedIn research I referenced earlier. This stuff matters to your candidate-pool and your existing staff. And that’s what will get you the brightest workforces of the future.


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