By Leighton Barnish on 10/02/2022

ESG Update by Powerscourt’s Leighton Barnish

The environment was one of the big winners of the pandemic with a lack of commuting, school runs and holidays contributing to a drastic reduction of CO2 emissions. From a social perspective, while many of us have enjoyed spending time at home with family, others have struggled with feelings of isolation and loneliness. How companies have responded is likely to have had a significant impact on their employer brand.

Regardless of how Covid has impacted your company, ESG issues will continue to be a core focus for corporates and their stakeholders. BlackRock’s Larry Fink and ex-Unilever CEO Paul Polman both published their missives last month, giving deeper insights into their expectations for 2022.

Climate change remains high on the corporate agenda

COP26 raised the profile of climate change, alongside a raft of new legislation coming into force across the world for investors, corporates and states to grapple with. It is being joined at the top table by nature and its biodiversity: the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) has been fully initiated and is supported by governments and business leaders. COP26 saw over 100 nations agree to end deforestation by 2030. Expect to see companies adapting their processes and publishing additional information, especially relating to the supply chain.

The employer brand is more important than ever

With workers quitting their jobs at historic rates in what has been termed The Great Resignation, competition for talent has been fierce. While wages are an important factor for many considering a job change, the last two years have elevated purpose and corporate culture in the decision-making process, especially among millennials and Generation Z. They are now significant differentiators in employment choice alongside flexibility, remuneration and progression. Employers who convey a clear identity that aligns with the values of those they are seeking to hire are more likely to win the battle to attract and retain talent.

Businesses are being held to account for greenwashing

Communicating on ESG is not as straight-forward as it used to be. The list of parties fastidiously reading every word published is growing as fast as the media platforms sharing their greenwashing condemnations. What was once a useful marketing technique employed by companies to tout their sustainability credentials has now become a sure-fire way to be maligned by the public, the media and other stakeholders. Many companies have felt the public backlash of ill-advised sustainability communications with nowhere to hide as ESG continues its ascent on the corporate agenda. It is important that sustainability narratives and messages are engaging, thought-provoking and potentially disruptive. But it is essential that they are true, used in an appropriate way and backed by proof points.

To discuss any of these issues in more detail or to find out how Powerscourt can support your ESG communications, contact leighton.barnish@powerscourt-group.com.