Amy Brachio, global business consulting leader with EY, explains why companies must move forward now with policies to ensure compliance with environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements.
This is the time for action on the ESG front, Brachio says. New regulations and growing awareness by employees and customers are combining to make sustainability a priority with global businesses. In particular, the executive suite is realizing the importance of the supply chain in achieving this goal. “Heads of supply chain have such an important role to play in bringing that to life and driving meaningful change,” she says.
The effort can’t be limited to within the four walls of a company. Suppliers and vendors also must participate in the effort, demonstrating that they’re adhering to the same ESG standards of behavior.
Businesses might be daunted by the sweeping nature of the term “ESG,” which incorporates efforts to achieve environmental sustainability as well as to ensure workers’ rights around the world. The United Nations has developed 17 sustainable development goals, including an end to poverty and hunger while ensuring education, gender equality, clean water and sustainable communities on a global scale. “Organizations need to grapple with the fact that it’s broad and goes beyond any one function,” says Brachio. “It requires the organization as a whole to be committed.”
At the same time, she says, that commitment must be backed up by clear metrics for measuring progress toward ESG goals. There’s a growing number of frameworks from which companies can draw to assess such practices as decarbonization, reduction of one’s carbon footprint and progress toward social goals. Brachio says managers and employees should be praised for bringing forth problems in performance, and that high marks on the report card should be closely examined for their veracity.
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