6 Ways to Improve ESG Within Your Organization

How can you improve ESG? Here are 6 practical steps.

September 13, 2021

Maybe you’ve got a solid foundation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles at your company — but you’re looking to take them to the next level.

You’ve ensured you’re using fair trade practices in manufacturing, you’re net-zero carbon emissions and you’ve got a clear mission statement. These are all great — not just for your company, customers, employees, the environment — but for the world.

How do you go above and beyond to show examples of ESG in your company? There are a few key ways you can improve ESG.

Environmental

Environmental factors are often one of the first examples of ESG issues that people think of. Especially in a circular economy, a company’s impact on the environment and what they do to protect it are of utmost importance.

1. Cut Back on Consumption and Use

Perhaps your company is already carbon-neutral, or maybe you make all your products from 100% recyclable materials. Part of a circular design, the circular economy and sustainability, however, is constant re-design — which includes how your company and its systems run.

Are there ways you can... 

  • ...cut back further on emissions and become carbon-positive? (Think of areas you might not consider — like emissions from employees’ commutes to work.)
  • ...reduce energy use, or swap sources out for more renewable ones?
  • ...track the life of your products after they’re used and find better ways to convert them into reusable, recyclable or biodegradable sources?

2. Utilize Smart Products

One of the most powerful tools you can have is information — and smart products enable you to access and analyze a wealth of it.

They can help learn more about your company’s operations, enhance systems and optimize processes. They can take your company’s mission and turn it into action. And they can be a great avenue to share the work you're doing with consumers; better yet, they are a great way to get consumers involved with that work to create even more impact.

For just a few examples, smart products and packaging can:

It can also take some of the stress off your shoulders as you have the ability to access and control systems remotely — you can let technology streamline processes for you.

When it comes to improving examples of ESG regarding the environment at your company, smart products are one of the best tools.

Social

When looking to improve your environmental, social and governance examples at your company, social culture plays a large role in that.

This isn’t just the culture within your company’s walls — but how you communicate and interact with those outside of it.

3. Communicate with Customers

If your products are 100% recyclable, but customers don’t know how to go actually recycle them and they end up in a landfill, much of your hard work goes to waste.

On the flip side, if your products are circular and there’s a simple way to keep them in constant use, how can you go above and beyond to communicate with customers and encourage them to have better ESG themselves?

If you’re looking to improve ESG examples regarding the social aspects at your company, ask yourself: How can you…

  • ...share your ESG principles and show customers how everyone plays a role in a circular economy?
  • …make sure consumers have an easy way to recycle products or return them to the earth’s natural systems?
  • ...encourage them to recycle more — not just your products, but all kinds of items?
  • ...find ways to participate in your community — whether it’s volunteering, launching a non-profit or another way — and share that with customers?

4. Check In With Employees

Your employees know your company better than anyone. They obviously play a crucial role in the company’s success — from ensuring day-to-day processes flow smoothly to helping shape the overarching goals of your brand and making them possible.

The Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that 87% of remote workers in the U.S. want the opportunity to do so at least one day a week. Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have begun to pay extra attention to employee’s mental health and productivity — particularly when it comes to their work environment. Others, however, have failed to listen to what their employees have to say.

Check in with your employees. Ask how they’re doing, and consider:

  • What do your employees want? Even if your company thrives on in-person meetings, is there room to let employees have the flexibility to work from home a few days a week?
  • How are the ethical principles across your company holding up? Are all workers — whether in your headquarter offices or in a factory overseas — being paid fair, competitive wages?
  • Are there additional benefits your company can offer — like mental health days in addition to traditional sick days, a compensated lunch once a month or reimbursements for a gym membership — that would improve culture and employee happiness?

Your company cannot function without employees — and they are one of your best indicators of your performance, how you’re meeting needs and the long-term outlook of your brand.

Governance

Governance focuses largely on the ethics at your company — including things like performing accounting audits, avoiding illegal practices and conflicts of interests, and steering clear of unethical influences from board members or investors.

5. Increase Accountability

As you’re looking for how to improve your company’s ESG governance, one of the best examples is by increasing your company’s self-accountability.

Maybe you already have an annual accounting audit. Are there other avenues you could pursue to hold different areas of your company accountable? Could you perform quarterly audits instead of annual ones to stay on top of practices?

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Institutional Investors found that 87% of U.S. investors said their company uses key performance indicators (KPIs) when making investment decisions. Can you use key performance indicators (KPIs) and compile a report to assess your progress and show where you want to improve?

Governance is focused on ethics and principles — and it starts from within. When you set the standards internally, that shows customers, employees, investors and others that you’ve got strong governance principles as part of your business’s ESG.

6. Share Your Principles with Your Partners

To go a step further in your ESG governance examples, share them with your partners — from farmers sourcing raw materials, to investors helping fund your company. You can serve as a leader that pushes everyone to increase their principles.

To extend your reach:

  • Supply Chain: Create a program/system to share information with everyone in your supply chain. Help them develop or shape their own ESG principles to align more closely with yours.
  • Investors and Board Members: Make sure investors and board members are still on the same page with you and your company’s principles. Can you keep up on their other investments to make sure they’re still in line with the values your company holds?

ESG principles are a core part of your company, but they’re only as valuable as far as your company reaches. When you find ways to improve your company’s ESG, everyone benefits.

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