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Embedding ESG Strategy into Company Culture

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast..."


This is an often-quoted business strategy quote from Peter Drucker - and we agree.


This is why we continually encourage our clients to develop a company culture where ESG is part of the fabric of everyday business.


If your company is serious about really making a positive impact, an ESG strategy alone is not enough. The elements of the strategy must be lived by everyone in the company and this has to be led from the top.


This is easier said than done though. So what actions can you take to start weaving ESG into the cultural fabric of your company? Here are some that we recommend:


Take a whole-systems approach:

ESG shouldn’t be a stand-alone topic dealt with separately and in isolation. In order to successfully implement an ESG strategy and make impactful changes and improvements to a company’s processes and operations, ESG considerations must form part of everyday business across all disciplines.


Building awareness among your employees on the importance of ESG topics and how it fits with their everyday tasks and how they can contribute is critical to getting everyone involved and supporting the overall goals. If people see ESG as an extra burden on top of their stretched capacity already, implementation of the strategy won’t succeed.



Set the example from the top:

Ultimately, the adoption of any company cultural topics must be demonstrated by the most senior staff so as to empower all employees to act by them. If messaging vs action mismatch becomes common practice, this can then introduce mistrust among employees across seemingly unrelated topics.


This highlights the importance of ensuring a coherent strategy with targets and goals that are personal to the company leaders / founders to make it easier to embed them into day-to-day business and develop the type of company culture where ESG forms part of the normal language, behaviour and decisions.


Engage people with diverse backgrounds and experiences:

Employees are more engaged when they are endowed with the knowledge and ability to make decisions when they feel they have influence and when they see that they can make a difference [3].


Ensuring employees are aware of how they can specifically contribute, and providing different ways to get involved in ESG initiatives, will encourage and engage more people with diverse backgrounds and experiences.


In larger companies with offices in multiple locations, engaging at a local level is just as important as large-scale, company-wide initiatives. Local employees know how to serve their communities and best integrate activity so that actions on ESG topics also deliver wider benefits. There won’t be a one-size fits all answer to things, so local engagement will be ever-more important.


Develop a sense of community:

Creating a sense of community among employees has become even more important since the COVID pandemic. This sense of working in a good place, starts with benefits; including work-life balance programs that support and uplift employees, improve the team collaboration and reduce staff turnover.


It is often the intangible aspects of a job that encourages an employee to stay with a company, and salary alone is usually not a strong enough reason to stay if other aspects of the job are not enjoyable or satisfying.


Placing value on, and recognising the importance of staff taking breaks and using their leave as they see fit, enables employees to improve physical and mental health, mental motivation, personal relationships and ultimately, decreases the rate of burnout.


 

Sources:

[1] https://traverse.ltd/recent-work/blogs/how-can-better-engagement-support-just-transition-net-zero (accessed 27/06/2022)

[2] https://hbr.org/2021/06/research-what-inclusive-companies-have-in-common (accessed 01/07/2022)

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2021/04/28/its-more-than-the-numbers-organizational-culture-and-diversity-equity-and-inclusion/ (accessed 01/07/2022)


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