Environmental Social Governance (ESG) poses a massive challenge for organisations, their boards and their leaders. It’s a complex, interconnected network of issues and there is currently little legislation to guide businesses on what they need to be doing.
To complicate things even further, leaders must also find a way to balance the ESG agenda with their responsibility to performance and profits. Where do you even start?
In a recent CMI Companions peer learning session, Cindy Rampersaud CMgr CCMI, non-executive director at Sage Homes, raised the question of the role of leaders in pushing the sustainability agenda amid this challenging context. It was clear to all that business leaders have a huge part to play on a global scale in driving policy and best practice – as well as managing the conflicts between investing into ESG and meeting financial obligations to stakeholders within their organisations.
“We have lots of world leaders committed to the political soundbite, but not to the implementation,” said Brian Rowntree CBE CMgr CCMI, principal of specialist housing, improvement and governance consultancy Business Improvement Services. “That’s where business comes in: you don’t need political will in the sustainability agenda, you do it yourself; you throw your examples of best practice on the table in front of those that set policy and say ‘we can drive policy because we’re all doing it; this is how and these are the measurements that inform the effect of those implementations’.”
Though, many leaders are still in the process of understanding what this sort of best practice that balances the needs of sustainability with a business’ financial health looks like.
The Companions’ expertise drew out six vital approaches for leaders of any organisation to add to their toolkit if we are to achieve any hope of reaching net zero by 2050 – and avoid negative impacts to businesses while doing it.
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