Written by Emily Gent | 23rd June 2022

ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance – but until recently ‘Social’ has often been left behind.

The last few years have seen issues such as wellbeing, mental health and company culture shift into focus, and now there is increasing pressure for employers to engage with the ‘S’.

Here’s why it’s important for businesses to invest in ESG as a whole…

ESG links to company culture

When planning an ESG strategy, there’s one area that’s often overlooked – culture. If you say you care about ESG then you need to show it. Your internal policies, processes and culture must align with what you say and how you support customers.

Think about ‘Social’ factors – for example  Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are most effective when embedded within the culture of your business. Your focus here should be on creating a welcoming work environment for employees and ensures every individual is heard, represented, and has the same opportunities.

Employees and job seekers increasingly view Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) as a key indicator of a good company culture, according to recent reports.

When it comes to the ‘Environment’, you need to embed sustainable working behaviours within your company culture. What good are these policies and initiatives if no one follows them?

Talking to your team to gather ideas for how your business can become more inclusive and sustainable, and getting input from your employees, will help them feel part of the team and engaged with the business values. This is likely to improve their job satisfaction and make them more driven at work.

Purpose in the workplace drives performance

A focus on ESG means your business can focus on doing its part for the planet while also improving employee engagement and productivity.

Giving employees a clear connection to something is important – a purpose bigger than their job role. The sense of inclusion and community makes people feel valued for their contribution to the overall goals of your business.

Having employees that are proud of where they work can have a positive impact on productivity, engagement and retention. 61% of millennials in the UK are more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues, and it’s important to them that companies take a stance on issues that matter to them.

Wellbeing

Already of growing importance before the pandemic, wellbeing is now top of the agenda. It starts with giving people the autonomy to choose where and how they want to work and support when they need it.

Your investment in your people as part of the ‘S’ in ESG has a direct impact on health and wellbeing and we all know that a happy, healthy, engaged workforce can have a positive impact on a company.

Do you offer Employee Assistance Programmes? How supportive are your managers of employee health and work/life balance?

Does your workplace support a healthy and safe work environment? Do employees feel a sense of job security? Is pay fair? Are there fair opportunities?

Do employees feel a sense of belonging? This all needs to be embedded into your company culture.

Sustainability and engagement

More and more businesses are looking to include sustainability in their practices, knowing it will help to attract top employees. But this needs to be a part of your culture before you can expect everyone to be on board with the company efforts.

Ensure employees can openly discuss their sustainability concerns and ideas, highlight what your focus means to your business and how staff play a role in achieving goals.

As well as initiatives like cycling to work schemes and subsidised train or bus travel, you might want to roll out enhanced hybrid working so employees can work half or more of their hours at home without formal request.

Though many businesses have decided to ramp up efforts around environmental, social and governance issues, just checking the boxes of employee benefits, EDI or corporate social responsibility isn’t enough. Your employees must believe in it and engage with the values of your company.

If you have any questions about ESG and how you can embed this in your company culture, please get in touch with our team at [email protected].