We’ve heard a lot about ESG recently, so what is it? ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance, which are a set of non-financial standards that are used to measure a business’ impact on society, the environment and how accountable it is.

We live in a society where how you do something is as important as what you do; movements such as #metoo and Extinction Rebellion represent a growing focus on doing the right thing, taking responsibility and doing it ethically. We’ve seen businesses and institutions suffer financially or even near collapse because of the way they do things.

Just in the last few months, we’ve seen the CBI lose a significant number of members and now faces a vote of confidence from members about whether it should continue to exist as an organisation because of the recent allegation of a toxic culture, sexual harassment and drug usage. Shein, the clothing brand, faced allegations of modern slavery in its production lines and ITV is currently navigating an investigation of their safeguard practices following allegations of personal relationships developed at work.

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So is this just the latest trend that will pass? No, this isn’t the newest version of corporate social responsibility; ESG is quickly becoming embedded in procurement and tendering processes, in the questions, interviewees are asking when considering a role and ultimately impacting the bottom line.

esg diagram

The parameters of ESG reach beyond organisational boundaries but encourage you to look at your total impact in your supply chains and within the communities in which you operate. There are some legal requirements for larger businesses, enforcing measurement of impact. However, we suggest that to embrace ESG truly, there should be a desire to measure your impact rather than seek to meet legal obligations.

Where to start with ESG?

ESG is about the culture, the way you operate and how you interact with your supply chain, local communities, including your employees, and the environment. It’s multifaceted and complex but there are some simple places to start; after all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Your handbook and HR policies are a great place to start, ensuring that you have documented your approach to DEI (diversity, equality and inclusion), employee health and wellbeing, family-friendly policies and whistleblowing. These policies will support the ‘S’, social in ESG.

To take this further you could choose something to focus on – whether it’s the carbon footprint of your production, creating a sustainable supply chain or your social impact; this could be an area that you know you have some challenges with or it could be something that you or your employees have a passion for. Creating interest and commitment within the business is essential, ESG isn’t about paying lip service to the approach, it’s about commitment and investment of time and resources to doing things the responsible and ethical way.

How are we approaching ESG at MAD-HR?

Our own HR policies are family-friendly so that our team can be their best when they’re at work and know that we support them. We have an open and honest culture, living by our PARIS values every day – ensuring that we provide each other with a supportive but challenging and progressive environment.

Outwardly we work in partnership with Suffolk Community Foundation and Norfolk community foundation to provide pro-bono support to local charities within our communities with HR advice when they need it most and we work with the Hethel Innovation Hub and Akcela to provide HR workshops on hot topics to start-ups.

We’ve recently strengthened our health and wellbeing approach, developing resilience and skill within the team alongside Suffolk Mind so that our teams can better understand themselves and support others to do the same.

We’re on a learning journey with ESG too, involving how we work and supporting our clients to act responsibly and ethically. If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing at MAD-HR about ESG or would like some support developing more social responsible policies, get in contact with us today.