Sustainability, corporate citizenship and ESG (environmental, social and governance) integration have become business necessities in our rapidly-changing world. Purpose-driven companies recognize that focusing on sustainability and ESG manages risk, maximizes opportunity, and drives long-term value.
From my work advising global corporations, financial institutions, asset managers and start-ups on ESG, sustainability and CSR, I’ve developed ten important tips to build and integrate ESG practices into your business model and drive sustainable business growth. These tips provide a roadmap to help your corporation contribute to the goal of achieving a net zero economy and meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Building best practices requires a “top down – bottom up – trickle out” approach with CEO and Board support as the foundation, thoughtful, effective policies, grass-roots employee engagement programs, and collaboration across supply chains and industry sectors.
10 Tips to Drive Sustainable Business Growth:
1. Integrate purpose into your core business strategy to make a positive impact on society and our planet.
2. Apply a purpose-driven mindset to achieve measurable goals and transparently report on progress. Develop best practices in data collection and create a comprehensive report based on clear metrics that tells your story in a compelling, authentic way.
3. Harness the power of purpose to innovate and leverage disruptive innovation to drive sustainable growth.
4. Develop strong ESG policies and practices and integrate them into your business model, governance structure and corporate reporting. Embed sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and diversity, equity & inclusion into your corporation’s DNA.
5. Walk the talk—live your values by linking employees’ day-to-day work to a larger, shared purpose and encouraging employee engagement around climate and social issues.
6. Engage and mobilize stakeholders across the entire value chain around purpose and collective action including suppliers, distributors, employees, consumers, investors, and communities in which you operate. Create policies and programs for ESG management for your corporation and engage your supply chain.
7. Take a stand with policymakers—lend your voice for human rights stewardship and environmental sustainability and use your proxy power as an investor to drive positive change.
8. Leverage technology and innovation and foster creativity and an intrapreneurial mindset to lower your carbon footprint, recycle as much raw material as possible, steadily increase the efficiency of manufacturing processes, and continue to reduce waste and consumption of energy and water.
9. Collaborate across companies, stakeholders, and industry sectors to make a difference and drive positive change.
10. Create circular business models, including circular supply chains, circular products, and circular customer journeys.
Wendy Gerber, CEO, International Consulting Group