5 ESG approaches any business can learn from

Before even developing an ESG communications plan or an ESG strategy, there is likely a lot of internal work that needs to be done.

For example, an internal audit of current sustainability and governance practises or impacts, updating policies, setting goals and KPIs for reducing your organisation’ carbon footprint or improving EDI in your boardroom. These are just some examples of the ESG data you’d want to consider

Your ESG journey should always start with a strategy and action points. You can’t jump into an ESG comms campaign without the strategy behind it.

In this blog, we’ll explore some examples of brands and businesses that have done exactly this.

Examples of strong ESG Strategies

Fat Beehive

Fat Beehive is a web design agency for the not-for-profit sector and organisations focusing on social good.

Online, Fat Beehive clearly state their values – collaborative, people-focused and inclusive – along with links to their relevant policies. Furthermore, it lays out an impressive list of third-party accreditations including social criteria such as Living Wage Employer, B Corp and Disability Confident.

Third-party accreditations are reliable trust signals to stakeholders and shareholders alike, as they are a marker of assured quality. These markets also make ESG efforts cohesive across different businesses and sectors, fortifying investment and amplifying change.

Danone

Danone is a much larger company and is therefore under a lot more scrutiny than smaller businesses may be.

They have a separate webpage just for their external evaluations, being open with their ESG data and clearly laying out their ESG ratings, criteria for benchmarking and how their chosen ratings address their strategic topics, such as health and nutrition, climate change and gender equality.

Also, under Danone’s impact webpage, you can explore different topics of interest for the company and find out how the business is making a positive change with its products and services.

But it should be noted, that extensive comms and accessible ESG data, doesn’t always guarantee complete protection and immunity from criticism. AS ClientEarth is taking Danone to court over the company’s lack of action on plastic pollution.

Danone currently addresses its actions on plastic pollution on its circular economy page, but only time will tell how this particular piece of litigation will play out

Saye

Saye is a European ethical sneaker company based in Europe whose sneakers are made from bio-based, organic and recycled materials.

If you look at Saye’s Instagram page, its posts are trendy with behind-the-scenes reels, stylish photoshoots and tips and tricks for sustainability.

In January this year, they laid out their New Year’s resolutions in an Instagram post, referencing its commitment to ‘keep doing what we love for you, for ourselves, and for the planet.’

It looks good on the surface and is backed up by evidence on their website. On their Impact page, they lay out the pillars for their ESG strategy, summarise and supply further information on their transparent supply chain accreditation with Bcome, ethical factory work, materials and packaging.

A nice touch is that they give an eco-score using Bcome for each model of trainers, so you can see the emissions, water usage and fossil energy usage of your potential purchases.

They are still working on a Bcorp certification and have ambitions to achieve this soon. But the most important this is that they are transparent and honest about the journey, which is the key thing with ESG comms.

Morgan Sindall

Morgan Sindall sets clear goals incorporating social value metrics, third-party accreditations and environmental policy. So again, we’re seeing openness and honesty when it comes to showcasing different ESG factors and commitment to ESG reporting.

Morgan Sindall Group recently posted on LinkedIn about climate accreditations. These are reliable, third-party benchmarks that provide quality assurance and send out strong trust signals to its key audiences.

On its Responsible Business page, Morgan Sindall lays out its own ESG reporting goals clearly relating to key topic areas across supply chain, community work, governance and environmental work.

Morgan Sindall also has the data to support its progress in these areas, such as costing social value in pence per pound spent on projects. Again showcasing its commitment not only to environmental criteria, but social impact.

A cautionary tale

Since we’ve been through some success stories, it’s worth looking at a cautionary tale. BMW and MG have found themselves under fire over greenwashing concerns.

MG has been urged to use the term ‘zero emissions’ with more caution after there were complaints that its cars were not zero-emission across the entire lifecycle.

A similar criticism was upheld against BMW, after it was found be to advertising electric vehicles on Google and calling them ‘zero emissions’. BMW told the ASA that the term was inserted due to Google’s automatic keyword feature.

There are two lessons to take from this.

First, ensure that your messaging isn’t being accidentally tampered with by technology or AI platforms. Human input and oversight is a must!

The second is that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the whole impact of a product in a more holistic way, from its manufacture, to supply chain to end-of-life.

 

ESG Strategy: key takeaways

When communicating ESG efforts externally, transparency and third-party verification are critical for building trust and credibility.

Leading companies showcase certifications, ratings, and data behind their commitments and they admit shortcomings in impact reports and convey their journey candidly.

Fundementally, any ESG program must be anchored by investing in meaningful internal change before external communications.

Translated into real terms, this means transparent data, third-party verification and a willingness to engage authentically on the ongoing sustainability journey. In doing so can lead to becoming an impactful, trustworthy brand in this space.