How brands and businesses can drive returns from ESG & sustainability
With the economy and the pandemic offering businesses a wild ride over the last two years, any brand actions need to be on mission and help growth.
Well, good news for Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and sustainability initiatives.
- Nielsen research show that 66% of consumers would spend more for a product if it came from a sustainable brand
- Willis Towers Watson found that 92% of consumers are more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% of consumers are likely to be more loyal to such companies.
- Mercer found that ESG can help attract talent, particularly younger generations (key as “By 2029, the Millennial and Gen Z generations will make up 72 percent of the world’s workforce”)
- The Governance & Accountability Institute shared that 90% of the S&P 500 index now publish sustainability reports
With the increased appetite and demand of consumers, business customers and employees for brands with ESG and sustainability credentials, now is the time to ensure your brand can reduce its costs, increase its brand reputation and win new customers.
How? By ensuring that practices, policies, purchasing, products and promotions have the right approach and match the pulse of your customers (the new 6 P’s of ESG and sustainability).
Not sure where to start? Follow the below guide and schedule a free chat with us around your ESG and sustainability journey with us.
the new 6 P’s of ESG and sustainability
Practices and Policies
Quick wins from simple changes. Firstly, ensure that you have policies that reflect good ESG & sustainability practices such as:
- Diversity and Inclusion. Beyond just equal opportunities and anti-discrimination, your business can really widen the available talent pool and increase the range of perspectives to your benefit. This simple 5 point summary from Harvard Business Review is a neat aide memoire. Employee Resource Groups and similar actions can really drive engagement.
- Recycling and Waste Management. With the impact of plastics on the environment and the huge hidden waste in food to landfill, ensuring you have simple policies and practices in this area reduces your own impact. Understand your local programs and vendor options, and check out these simple tips from Earth Day.
- Data and Insights. Your chosen ESG & sustainability priorities could come from a wide array of topics (emissions, water, minerals, inclusion, data privacy…) tailored to your business. The ability to get correct, timely and complete ESG & sustainability data from across your business and your suppliers, vendors, customers and counterparties (i.e. your ‘value chain’) is critical
With the right data & insights (see above), your business can leverage your existing spend to ensure your vendors and suppliers are on mission with you.
Embedding ESG & sustainability criteria and data gathering in your procurement approach (digitally rather than manually) will ensure:
- You understand and value vendor ESG & sustainability credentials
- You align and benefit from vendors with suitable policies and practices
- Ethical sourcing (e.g. fair trade, conflict-free)
- Inclusive vendors (e.g. minority owned, social enterprises)
- Sustainable practices (e.g. green powered, reforestation, biodiversity)
- You find delivery vendors to execute on specific topics such as:
- Green energy
- Recycling and waste management
- Data security
- Energy efficiency
- Building certification
A specialist ESG & sustainability partner like Veritrove can provide a strategic and digital approach.
Providing product options that truly speak to your customer needs. Testing your markets purchasing and price preferences around sustainable products can be a great way to look before you leap.
Are your customers willing to increase purchasing volume or price with regard to:
- The sustainability of your packaging
- The sustainability of your materials and components
- The sustainability of your service or use case
Many organizations are now promoting and benefiting from sustainable or inclusive product offerings, such as Grove (household products), Impossible (foods), Latitude (diamonds), Bombas (clothing) and even Dell (electronic devices).
PromotionsSo your brand has done the hard work on sustainability and ESG matters and wants to ensure that its customers, prospects, investors and regulators understand the progress and wins.
Avoiding ‘greenwashing’ (positive messages not supported by actions) is important for brand credibility.
That said, messages can be at the organization or product or campaign level.
While CDSB, UNSDG, IIRC, VRF, SASB, ISSB, TCFD and GRI may only sound like secret agencies or hopeful scrabble choices, they may be relevant at the organization level of reporting.
Further, at the product level Fairtrade, EnergyStar, C2C, USDA Organic, eco-Institut, UL, FSC, Rainforest Alliance, and bluesign to name but a few may offer certification relevance for you.
Where to start?
Ensuring that you consider what is relevant is important. Starting with the right ESG and sustainability consultant (such as Veritrove) to help you through this, and ensuring that any marketing messaging are in keeping with the Federal Trade Commissions ‘green guides’ offers a good jumping in point.
About the author
Matt Wheatley is the founder of Veritrove: a strategic & digital ESG partner that gets you insights and value from across your supply chain.
Our team finds you cost efficiencies, business value and market differentiation, not just compliance.
We drive insights and unlock value from ESG, sustainability and responsibility initiatives; helping you set, measure, and maximize your ESG actions within your overall mission.