Member Terese Kemble Speaks: Finding the ESG Sweet Spot

ESG (environmental, social, and governance) bona fides encompass a broad range of activities. With no formal standards in place, business leaders can find themselves unsure of the best way to mesh this emerging strategic need with their existing business.

If I were in the early stages of exploring environmental, social, and governance compliance for my company, I would begin by conducting thorough market research. What actions have organizations taken that are of similar size to my company? What actions have the industry leaders taken? If I’m lucky enough that my company already has some of these initiatives in place, I’d make sure that I am disclosing them publicly. If the company has already put in the work, best to leverage those opportunities first.

In considering new ESG actions, I would revisit my company’s strategic roadmap and identify synergies between various ESG options and my stated long-term goals. I would keep in mind that the ESG actions that other organizations take may or may not be the best fit for my company – any opportunities I seriously consider should point back to our core mission. The corporate world is littered with HR initiatives that never get legs because they don’t harmonize with real, strategic business momentum. Finding the overlap between ESG possibilities and the core strategy is what I would call the sweet spot – a great place to start.

A decade ago, ESG initiatives may have been seen as an “above and beyond” or a “would be nice.” Today, it’s essential as evidenced by the sustained interest from many stakeholders in the corporate ecosystem, investors included. There are a lot of opportunities for those who embrace change. Best of luck!