How can we better articulate the benefits of managing environmental, social and governance issues for businesses and wider stakeholders?

This live written discussion with a panel of experts explored how we can better articulate the benefits of managing environmental, social and governance issues for businesses and wider stakeholders.

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LIVE Panel

Thursday 11th May, 10am to 11am EDT / 3pm to 4 pm BST | ADD TO CALENDAR

Background

ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is a material risk framework many businesses, investors and observers use to better manage businesses and investments. In addition, businesses regularly engage with and act on wider social and environmental externalities, through changes to their core business models and processes, and/or through philanthropic programmes. But how do we best communicate this?Scepticism is arising around ESG: with some questioning whether businesses are overreaching their fiduciary duties, and others challenging whether businesses can deliver on their societal commitments. A particular criticism arises around the continually evolving nature of ESG, and related concepts such as corporate responsibility, sustainability and CSR that can lead to a lack of clarity and difficulties in robustly comparing one business’s activities with another’s.This online written discussion aims to bring together leading thinking and best practice on how to communicate business alongside social, environmental and governance issues. We invite you all to contribute. Share your insights and suggestions. The full discussion will then be summarised and shared so that you have a practical take-away on how we better communicate the benefits of embedding ESG.
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Panel

  • Diana Best, Senior Finance Strategist, The Sunrise Project
  • Abir Chowdhury, Sr. Manager - Development & Fundraising, Ashoka University
  • Amber Kiani, Director of Organizational Research and Development XRSI - XR Safety Initiative
  • Chioma Izuwah, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Ewan Livingston-Docwra, Strategist, BTeam
  • Flora von Michel, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Haron Muturi|, Wake and Shine SHG, Junior Leader, Tharaka Nithi
  • Jacey Bingler, Senior Communications Campaigner, Sunrise US
  • João Maria Botelho, Researcher NOVA Business and Human Rights and Environment Research and Board Advisor, NOVA Green Lab
  • Janset Batibay, Inclusive Capitalism
  • Sherif Muçalla, Researcher, Albania
  • Paul Rissman, Co-founder, Rights CoLab
  • Tolu Seun, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Rajiv Joshi, Asssociate Dean of Climate Action at The Climate School at Columbia University
  • Meredith Sumpter, Inclusive Capitalism
  • Elizabeth Waweru, Research and Policy Officer, The Youth Cafe

Moderator: Katie Hyson, Business Fights Poverty

Questions

  1. How can we better articulate the benefits of managing environmental, social and governance issues for businesses and wider stakeholders?
  2. What are best practice examples and where are the pitfalls we must avoid?
  3. How can we better work together to ensure joined-up narratives?

Format

This is a text-based discussion which remains open, so please do continue to share your insights.

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S&P Global report (December 2021) points out that “We see plenty of “E” but less “S” in ESG*”, however they can’t explain Why this is the case.
Until this is explained properly it would be difficult to better articulate the benefits for businesses and wider stakeholders.
What are your thoughts on this?
P.S. Based on my article from 14 May 2022, I’ll provide my answer on 10 May.

We are excited to be starting this session shortly
Please do introduce yourself here…by clicking reply

Excited to be here! Jacey Bingler, she/her, Senior Communications Campaigner with The Sunrise Project

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Laurel Steinfield (she/her/hers) - Ivey Business School, Canada. Looking forward to reading what people think about this issue.

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Ewan Livingston-Docwra, The B Team. Thanks for organising!

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Hi, Paul Rissman, co-founder of Rights CoLab and board director of Sierra Club Foundation. Also participating with the Interfaith Canter on Corporate Responsibility on their anti-ESG pushback.

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Amber Kiani, Director BeQuest Tech. Looking forward to the discussion!

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Karon Shaiva, Convenor - RISE PECOWorld Community

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Hi, I’m Martha from AfriKids in Ghana. Pleasure to meet you all

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Our First question today:
Q1. How can we better articulate the benefits of managing environmental, social and governance issues for businesses and wider stakeholders?

Elizabeth Waweru - Research and Policy Office, The Youth Cafe

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And working with Council on Inclusive Capitalism on the Task Force on Inequality-related Financial Disclosures

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For starters, we need to try to depoliticise the term ESG (or use something else). Too many think it is purely about companies wanting to be seen to do the right thing, rather than companies incorporating ESG risks into their strategies, and managing them accordingly. We need to hear this from companies much more vocally. And investors.

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Hi, Janset Batibay here, I am the director of engagement and outreach at the Council for Inclusive Capitalism.

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We need to get Senior Management buy-in but we also need to make it simple enough for all managers to understand the need and the benefits … there is just too many frameworks and compliance focus !!

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I welcome your thoughts to the following: 1. The benefits of managing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues for businesses and wider stakeholders can be articulated in various ways, including:

  • Improving financial performance and reducing risk through more efficient resource use, enhanced reputation and brand value, and better stakeholder engagement.

  • Addressing societal challenges and contributing to sustainable development by addressing environmental and social issues and creating positive impacts for stakeholders.

  • Attracting and retaining employees, customers, investors, and other stakeholders who are increasingly interested in ESG issues and seeking to align their values with their choices.

  • To better articulate these benefits, businesses can leverage frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to communicate their ESG impacts and risks to stakeholders.

Maggie Rarieya- Global Partnerships Director, Amref

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And this is Alexandra - Director of Programs & Partnerships at the Council. Including supporting our work with Paul and colleagues on the TIFD work.

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I recently met with a large group of consultants from Boston Consulting Group. They’re struggling to explain to their clients how ESG initiatives can improve ROI. I suggested that their investors will pressure them to do it if they don’t do it themselves, because investors are becoming increasingly aware of systemic risks related to climate change, inequality, anti-microbial resistance/pandemics, the rise of authoritarianism/erosion of the rule of law, etc. Last year between 10 and 15% of activist challenges to boards involved an environmental or social ask. Most business groups use a “race to the top” theory of change, but the carrots should certainly be augmented with sticks.

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