Earlier this month, Financial Narrative held a panel discussion with industry leaders who are focused on the ESG strategies in their own companies. The conversation surrounds the importance of marketers knowing how to navigate this space. 

Based on topics presented by the panel and the constant evolution of the ESG strategies that many companies have implemented, here are 5 things to consider when developing your company’s ESG strategy.

1. Establish How You Want Your Framework to Be Built for Reporting

Jeso O’Neill from WaterEquity called out the importance of having the data and statistics to reinforce your company’s ESG efforts and how you frame that information. It’s crucial to have a solid foundation for why your company is enforcing new policies and making changes. Clients and investors who are seeking to mitigate risks want to know exactly what they’re supporting and how it’s being done.

O’Neill advises companies to pay attention to how they articulate the data and research behind what they’re doing in the ESG or impact investing space so that it does not come across as greenwashing or lip service. 

2. Define the Specific ESG Goals and Values You Want to Focus On: 

Sustainability and viability are two ideals that need to be upheld throughout the process of selecting your company’s ESG goals and values. You will need to ask yourself if your company is capable of supporting and maintaining your goals, if your company can afford to make any necessary adjustments to policies, and what practices need to take place to uphold your chosen ESG goals.

Panelist Leeya Hendricks, CMO of Delta Capita & Prytek Group, mentioned several times the importance of finding and honing in on values that your clients and stakeholders resonate with. The objectives that your company lands on will set the tone for the type of work you take on and the climate for your clients and investors.

Fine-tuning your goals is critical to avoid being  “too broad and…too difficult to mark.” (Henry Adams, 2022)

3. Assess the Current Environment for Your Values: 

Pinpoint the existing policies, practices, statements, and clients that might benefit from the values you want to promote. Throughout the panel discussion, a key topic was promoting the ESG maturity of your company. 

One quick way to accelerate the process is starting where you’re already ahead. If you want to implement a new strategy or reevaluate an existing model, it is crucial that you find existing materials, policies and engagement to build off of that will stabilize your goals, thus creating a solid foundation.

It is also vital that you identify what internal hurdles your company might encounter that will inhibit progress toward your goals. Observe the current presence and standing of your company in the media, society, etc. to determine if your company needs to shift the public’s view or confront potential issues head on. 

4. Discover How Your Company’s Financial Standing and Goals Will Affect Your ESG Goals:

Claire Burns with The Hartford referenced the importance of integrating your finances into your ESG strategy and highlighting certain budgetary restrictions you might encounter. 

As finance folks, we understand the importance of maintaining defensible decisions. Define your budget, see where there is wiggle room for you to expand on your goals and make the extra progress you need.

5. Arrange Your Communication Efforts Around Transparency and Clarity:

To avoid being accused of greenwashing or having your angles be misconstrued, be clear about your intentions and actions and write in plain speak so that your content is digestible for all. 

Henry Adams wrote in a Vested article on ESG that points to these common miscommunications that the public makes about ESG’s effectiveness due to a lack of information and communication from company to client/public. 

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