ESG (environmental, social and governance) has joined CSR as an important part of how companies operate and publicise their corporate responsibilities. But ESG is much more than just a current buzzword. In a webinar hosted by Carole Burman of MAD-HR, she was joined by Mark Sait, CEO of SaveMoneyCutCarbon and MAD-HR Director Charlotte Bate for a panel discussion.
Mark Sait started the discussion by explaining the difference between ‘net-zero carbon’ and ‘net-positive carbon’. He explained that when organisations reach net-zero they have reduced their carbon footprint to the point of almost zero. Mark made it clear reaching net-zero is only the start; achieving net-positive carbon status is a goal that will become increasingly pertinent in the near future.
Putting in place policies and procedures to make changes to the energy usage of companies is a positive, and profitable, ongoing exercise. He gave many examples of organisations that have made a real difference, not only to their carbon footprint (and energy bills), but also to their profitability.
When asked for a simple and practical way to reduce energy consumption Mark Sait detailed how changing the types of lightbulbs used in business premises can make a measurable financial difference.
Throughout the webinar Mark gave practical tips for backing up an ESG policy with real-world changes. Reinforcing the fact that environmental policies need to be much more than a dry statement of intent; they need to be continually finessed in order to make a measurable difference.
During the Q&A session at the end of the webinar Mark Sait was asked what KPIs can be used to measure the success of ESG policies, and what metrics can be used to look for areas of improvement. Mark took this opportunity to list some of the standard environmental KPIs that are currently in use, and shared his opinion that while some KPIs might be considered as industry-standard, every business faces different challenges and opportunities. In his own words ‘CSR is not something that is handled by a small department hidden deep within an organisation, it is the responsibility of those at board level’.
During the panel discussion, the spectre of ‘false-positives’ was raised. With so many companies being forced to adopt ‘work-from-home’ policies during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the energy costs associated with maintaining premises are being transferred away from the workplace, and into the homes of employees. Mark shared details of an app that SaveMoneyCutCarbon have made available to clients, so their employees can assess the carbon costs of working from home.
CSR and employer branding
MAD-HR Director Charlotte Bate explained that many potential employees actively research the carbon stance and ESG policies of potential employers. Candidates can decide against applying for a role if they do not feel an organisation reflects their own position on environmental concerns. This point was backed up by Mark Sait of SaveMoneyCutCarbon.
The sentiment of both panellists was that ‘we are all in this together’, and that real-world change is not only possible, it is happening right now and should be embraced. Charlotte encouraged employers to engage with their teams, and to keep an open dialogue about what can be done to make good on CSR promises. Both panellists agreed that ensuring employee buy-in was a crucial step, and must not be overlooked if companies want to ensure meaningful progress. Having a clear strategy in place to encourage employees to get involved is a compelling necessity.
ESG and carbon reduction legislation
During the Q&A session a guest raised the topic of legislation, posing the question ‘we know what the carrot is, but was is the stick’. Mark Sait explained that while there is some legislation coming from the UK Government already, this is likely to intensify in the future. He also gave examples of how important a proactive approach to CSR is when securing investment, making successful tender applications even when approaching banks for financial support.
A good ESG policy is not just about saving money and boosting performance. It will also improve your company’s reputation, enhance employee engagement, increase productivity and can reduce staff turnover.
If you would like to find out more about how you can make a difference by reducing your carbon footprint, and find out how to prepare your business for growth please follow the links below:
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