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A futuristic view on ESG — How to create long-term value


At our recent Environmental Social Governance (ESG) webinar, four esteemed experts discussed the most common questions and concerns surrounding today’s business landscape. Co-hosted by Lisa Tracy, ESG Division Manager at Moir Group, and Carolyn Loton, Director at Juntos Marketing, the event explored a wide range of topics. From greenwashing and greenhushing, to the adoption of best-practice strategies, to innovative approaches to improve sustainability, the conversation was robust.

The event opened with a poll asking attendees their top ESG challenge for 2024.

“The poll results highlight the challenges of implementing ESG initiatives and emphasise the need for comprehensive strategies to address internal and external hurdles. Overall, the importance of ongoing collaboration among professionals to advance ESG practices and achieve long-term sustainability goals is clear,” said Lisa.

In this article, we have identified the top six insights for the future of ESG:

1. ESG is not a new area of business

Cecile Walton, Senior ESG Practitioner and Advisor, has worked for more than 15 years in the space. She opened the discussion by saying that ESG is only considered “new” because society is acknowledging its importance now. “Investors and shareholders are starting to invest in ESG and there is a surge in regulations and requirements, but ESG is not new to business. Employees are also recognising now that ESG has a part to play in their daily responsibilities,” she explained.

2. ESG is growing beyond compliance

Implementing ESG isn’t just about meeting compliance requirements. It is an ongoing commitment and will be recognised as a driver for innovation and competitive advantage. ESG is fundamentally about empowering organisations to enact meaningful change, emphasising the need for tailored strategies rather than adopting a generic, cookie-cutter approach. While it’s valuable to observe and learn from various market approaches, it’s essential to acknowledge the distinctiveness of each business and industry, along with their unique challenges.

Elise Gautier, Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer, spoke about how every business is deeply intertwined with opportunities to increase and preserve value beyond compliance. To avoid common challenges and move beyond greenwashing, organisations need to invest in data capture. “Data is key in light of new disclosures. We can make credible claims backed by evidence when there is data. ESG reporting needs to be of the same quality and accuracy as we do our financials.”

3. The championing role of the C-suite

There is a growing emphasis on the role of the C-suite and this will only accelerate. David Watkins, Chief Financial Officer JCDecaux AU and NZ, said it is the role of the C-suite to integrate ESG across an organisation. “They need to live and breathe the values and talk about their journey openly. This builds trust and credibility, and ultimately attracts talent.”

Cecil emphasised that. “The C-suite must embrace the complexity of the challenge”. ESG is evolving as a guiding principle within the business fabric, requiring regular reflection, updates, and transparent communication.

You might also like to read this post, The rise of CSOs — What they do and why it matters.

4. Employees are the drivers of ESG

Tim O’Brien, Founder of Purpose Made, highlighted an interesting perspective. He noted that: “The push toward ESG practices is frequently instigated by employees rather than solely by investors. Companies are increasingly recognising ESG as a powerful tool for attracting top talent, as it aligns with the values sought by prospective employees.”

David added to this: “The push will come from employees, not investors. There is a growing proportion of investors putting pressure on organisations to clean up their portfolios, but the real drivers are employees”. Investor expectations will continue to shift and will increasingly focus on ESG.

Lisa noted that a prominent e-commerce and cloud computing company has invested in external training to enhance their global talent teams’ proficiency in ESG principles. “This enables them to genuinely convey the organisation’s sustainability value proposition throughout the recruiting process”.

5. ESG strategy is the business strategy

It’s clear that ESG integration isn’t merely a static policy document; rather, it is a guiding principle within the business fabric. Every decision, action, and strategy should be viewed through the ESG lens. Adopting an ESG mindset offers opportunities to generate value, trim costs, and mitigate risks through innovative practices. Integrating ESG considerations directly into the business strategy, rather than treating them as isolated endeavours, is pivotal. This holistic approach not only enhances operational efficiency but also encourages a fundamental shift in how organisations conduct themselves and engage with stakeholders.

6. Innovation is key for ESG

Innovation in ESG starts from a place of mindset, requiring organisations to rethink ways of doing business. “It’s essential to ensure that stated ESG intent is matched by internal practices and systems. This highlights the need for innovative approaches to sustainability and value creation,” Tim emphasised. Innovation will play a key role in moving beyond compliance and creating lasting value.

Lisa added: “Corporates are increasingly engaging in regenerative business practice training. This empowers professionals with skills to implement sustainable practices and integrate regenerative principles into their strategies and community engagement efforts”.

You might also like to read this post, ESG opportunities for business — How to seize and optimise them

Remember: Your journey doesn’t have to be perfect

Cecile’s insight, “perfection is the enemy of progress”, will resonate with most businesses. By demonstrating a genuine effort towards improvement is key to satisfying consumers, engaging employees, and meeting market expectations. It’s important to remember that starting on the journey is more important than achieving immediate perfection.

If you have any recruitment needs in your team on a permanent or a temporary basis, we would be delighted to assist.

Moir Group is a specialist finance, accounting and ESG recruitment company. We cover temporary and permanent roles from Assistant Accountant to CFO level. We also recruit Sustainability / ESG Manager roles to Chief Sustainability Officer roles across all industry sectors. Contact us here.

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