Events

Driving ESG Success: Insights from Industry Leaders

ESG Communications Summit April 26, 2024

Shelley Mayer

Categories: Events

May 4, 2024

In April, I was fortunate to attend the second annual ESG Communications Summit hosted by P World. This event was valuable for professionals in sustainability and corporate communication, offering a deep dive into the pressing ESG trends shaping today’s business landscape. Speakers and panelists included ESG leaders and communications experts from L’Oreal, tentree, TELUS Health, Manulife, PwC, Raymond James, West Fraser, LCBO, Life Labs, and many others.

panel of people speaking at ESG Communications Summit

Key Learnings and Insights

Collaboration is Key

L’Oreal, with its rigorous sustainability plan, acknowledges that 94% of their impact lies outside their direct control, involving retailers, consumers, and suppliers. Success demands cooperation and partnerships across their entire ecosystem, from Canada Post to pallet wrapping to transcontinental shipping partners, inclusive sourcing, and a recycling program with retailers.

Strategic Perspective on ESG

Emrul Hasan, Chief Programs Officer at CARE Canada, emphasized the need for organizations to shift from viewing ESG merely as a compliance and reporting issue to a strategic one. ESG efforts should align with the organization’s mission, clearly articulating goals and timelines. Paul Anthony Hamilton from LCBO reiterated this suggesting that all DEI efforts must be tied to business objectives such as sales goals, basket size, or operational efficiencies.

Innovative Accountability

tentree, which plants trees for each apparel item sold, created veritree, an open-source digital impact reporting platform. This tool allows tentree to live up to customers’ accountability expectations by tracking the survivability of plantings, forest health, and other community outcomes, including soil health, water quality, and biodiversity.

Avoiding Greenwashing

Eric Saarvala of Raymond James highlighted the need to “de-risk” communications, warning against greenwashing by ensuring all claims can be substantiated across the organization. Shenandoah Johns of West Fraser echoed this, stressing the importance of having a clear plan before adopting industry trends and setting arbitrary targets.

Engaging Employees

Brooke Tucker-Reid from Manulife shared her approach of “beating the drum on the impact agenda” throughout the year, featuring stories of employees who have contributed to specific results or data trends. Shristi Ella of Husky Technologies suggested using internal communications to visualize goals and solutions simply and effectively, leveraging storytelling techniques like Apple has done successfully here.

Transparency and Learning

Speakers underscored the importance of transparency, advocating for reporting results even when they fall short of expectations. Jessie Sitnick of The Natural Step Canada suggested that being open about data confidence and struggles can draw in external assistance for solutions.

Conclusion

The Summit underscored that ESG success hinges on strategic alignment, genuine partnerships, innovative accountability, and transparent communication. By engaging the entire organization and community, businesses can advance their ESG goals effectively and authentically.

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