Enhancing the “S” in ESG
Getting people Engaged
We all know that companies that prioritize Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) sustainability not only recognize the long-term benefits but also see the competitive advantage. More and more companies are not only requiring their partners to enhance ESG efforts but also report on their progress on a regular basis. In some cases, reaching defined ESG compliance thresholds is a prerequisite to doing business together. Allthough Environmental and Governance Sustainability seem to get a great deal of exposure these days, Social Sustainability may not get as much attention. However, to be truly sustainable there must be effort applied to all three.
Below are some initiatives that are characteristic of organizations that are not only Socially focused, but very effective at it.
Developing and implementing policies and procedures that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and in the communities in which the company operates.
Ensuring that the company’s operations and supply chain do not contribute to human rights abuses, forced labor, or other forms of exploitation.
Engaging with stakeholders, including employees, customers, and community members, to understand their concerns and take steps to address them.
Measuring and reporting on the company’s social impact, including its progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and its impact on the communities in which it operates.
Continuously evaluating and improving the company’s social performance and practices.
Collaborating with other companies, organizations, and stakeholders to promote sustainable and responsible business practices.
As we talk to clients about their sustainability goals and programs, it seems that many are aware of the first two items on this list and are making concerted efforts to improve. They have processes and reporting to provide ongoing updates of progress in these areas. But they seem to lose momentum when it comes to stakeholder engagement, measuring social impact, evaluating, improving, and collaboration. Companies that have difficulty in these areas are losing a key opportunity to not only keep their employees engaged and strengthen their own organizations, but also to strengthen the relationships with their customers, business partners and community. A great step in the right direction is getting the internal team engaged, aligned and activated.
There can be challenges to getting employees engaged and to contribute to community service initiatives, including:
Time constraints: Many employees may feel that they do not have enough free time to participate in community service initiatives, due to work and family responsibilities.
Lack of awareness: Some employees may be unaware of the community service initiatives available to them or may not know how to get involved.
Lack of motivation: Some employees may not feel personally invested in community service initiatives and may not see the value in participating.
Limited resources: Community service initiatives can require a significant investment of time, money, and other resources, which may not be available to all employees.
Resistance to change: Some employees may be resistant to participating in community service initiatives because they are unfamiliar with the concept or because it is not part of their usual work routine.
Discomfort or lack of skills: Some employees may not feel comfortable participating in certain types of community service initiatives or may not have the necessary skills or experience.
Limited support from Leadership: If employees don’t see the leadership engaging or supporting such initiatives, they might not feel encouraged to participate.
Here are several steps that can be taken to minimize or eliminate the hesitancy of employees to get involved with community service initiatives:
Recognize & reward
Provide clear info
Lead by example
To be engaged there must be participation from all levels of the organization. To be effective there must be consistent measurement and reporting. To continually improve, collaboration with outside organizations is important and necessary. Very often the biggest challenge is getting started.