What are people doing on ESG?

Many businesses are starting to figure out their ESG strategies. It’s not always easy to start, or know what the business is ready to do. Taking on an ESG programme can seem like a big challenge, but actually many businesses are already doing a lot on ESG already, and a big part of getting started is pulling together existing data.

On our recent webinar on How to Implement an ESG programme, we surveyed over a hundred leading businesses and law firms on what they are doing around ESG.

What is driving your ESG initiatives?

As the key driver of ESG, respondents were evenly split between their key driver for implementing an ESG initiative. Improving brand image and reputation was the key driver for 30% of companies, as was managing risk and reputation.

Pressure from customers, achieving cost effectiveness and attracting and retaining employees was the key driver of 10% of other companies respectively, while pressure from investors was the key driver for only 2% of companies.

Which element of ESG are you most concerned about?

Half of companies were most concerned about the environmental side of ESG, with the others evenly divided between social and governance. This is consistent with what we are hearing from companies, particularly professional services firms, who haven’t perhaps considered environmental tracking before. 

Use of ESG reporting frameworks

Only 20% of companies had so far signed up to a particular ESG framework. Around a quarter were using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals framework, another quarter were using the Carbon Disclosure Project. TCFD, GRI and SASB were used by around 15% each.

Business commitments to ESG

Key to getting an ESG programme moving is board and senior management buy in. Over 65% of companies have senior management responsibilities for ESG, while 60% have assigned a designated reference person for day-to-day ESG matters.

Our first recommended step when it comes to implementing an ESG programme is establishing a committee. Exactly half of respondents have done so, and half have not.

Use of ESG software

ESG software solutions can help to track different strands of ESG and bring them into one place. One of the hardest parts of an ESG software solution having it able to track carbon data alongside diversity information and bribery training. Systems might be able to get very detailed on tracking environmental aspects, but ESG is of course broader than only that. Unsurprisingly, 90% of companies we spoke with are not using an ESG software solution.

When it comes to measuring carbon within the business, nearly half of companies we asked were doing manual calculations, while 30% had outsourced this to an external consultant.

Carbon neutral commitments

This is where a company says it wants to achieve net zero emissions by a certain date, often by 2030. To get there, a company must be able to measure, and track, its emissions. We were surprised to see that 30% of companies we asked had already made a net zero commitment, given so few were using any kind of software to track their overall ESG commitments.

This could mean some companies have made a net zero commitment and aren’t yet sure how they are going to achieve it. 60% of companies had not made such a commitment yet.

Over half of companies are not tracking the carbon emissions of travel, while the same 30% who had made the net zero commitment were. This is another critical element of getting to net zero, tracking carbon from travel.

Implementing an ESG programme

For more on getting started with ESG, download our guide to implementing an ESG programme.