Demonstrating progress against your ESG initiatives – with clear evidence to ‘back-up’ the claims – builds trust in your organisation, supports your overall corporate reputation, and enhances your relationship with your employees and customers. So how do you tell your ESG story to stakeholders?
To be able to tell a credible ESG story you first need to work out where you are and where you want to be in the context of ESG – and then define which initiatives will help you achieve the desired results.
The main goal of ESG reporting is to provide investors, customers, and other stakeholders with a clear & transparent picture of a business’s overall sustainability goals and its current performance. It’s an essential way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to responsible, environmentally sound business practices.
This blog explains how to build a robust ESG programme, how to collect the right data to substantiate ESG claims, and how ESG software can be leveraged to tell an authentic and cohesive ESG story that goes beyond numbers.
Why is ESG reporting Important
As the importance of ESG reporting grows, organisations that tell a clear & credible ESG story will progress faster than others. By leveraging ESG data in the form of reporting & analytics, organisations can inform their strategic decisions, provide deeper insights into potential risks & opportunities, measure performance against goals, and take the right course of action to get ahead.
Data is powerful, but context is critical! The data you aggregate from across the organisation provides ‘evidence’ that your ESG story is true. This is why accurate data is critical – without it your ESG claims remain unsubstantiated. To abolish greenwashing claims organisations must have clear data to back up any bold green claims they make.
According to a recent PWC survey:
|of investors surveyed say they think corporate reporting contains unsupported sustainability claims (i.e., greenwashing)|
In the right context, your ESG data should provide a narrative to reveal progress against your ESG goals & initiatives – adding a human element. Without adequate reporting, the numbers mean little and will not reveal progress, mistakes or shortfalls – leaving companies unable to visualise where their organisation is, where it’s going, and how it will get there. Establishing a robust reporting framework not only produces investor-grade ESG data, but it makes comparisons & progress tracking simple. Data visualisations – in the form of dashboards & reports – will make your ESG data accessible to a broader audience.
Awareness of ESG issues has become mainstream and attitudes towards it are changing fast. An ESG review conducted by OnePoll in 2020 revealed that while 81% of companies surveyed had a formal ESG programme in place but only 50% believed their organisation performed effectively against environment metrics.
Establishing an ESG framework
Many companies who are still in the early stages of building out their ESG plans might be wondering how to collect the right data to ensure they can run sufficient reports to substantiate any ESG claims. To ensure they understand what data they need to collect, organisations must:
- Define ESG goals & objectives – This involves defining topline ESG goals like, adopting certain regulations & standards, reducing waste, energy consumption, and carbon emissions, or creating a more ethical and diverse operating model.
- Map data to each goal – Decide which data will indicate your progression against your goals & objectives. This could include metrics like energy usage, waste, CO2 emissions, sustainable raw materials, green supply chains, alongside data relating to social issues like ethical operations, diversity, bribery & corruption, money laundering & compliance.
- Establish a baseline for ESG performance – Understanding your current performance levels and statistics on ESG metrics is a key part of your ESG strategy. Doing so provides a starting point so you can establish realistic targets of where the organisation wants to be in the future. This baseline will help the organisation to evaluate the progress of ESG efforts.
- Set Performance Targets – Your performance targets might include desired improvements on KPIs, while others might call for maintaining current performance and practices that already meet requirements. Defining objectives that are measurable and aligned with your organisation’s purpose is crucial for assuring progress and giving evidence of success or failure.
- Establish key ESG initiatives – Your ESG metrics won’t just improve on their own. Organisations must undertake a series of key initiatives and programmes that will help them to achieve their ESG objectives. These can range from small initiatives like using more sustainable packaging & raw materials and reducing energy usage & waste, or it might mean broader initiatives like diversity & inclusion programmes, opening eco-friendly premises or improving board transparency and employee wellbeing. These initiatives must be planned out with timelines, schedules, budgets, and project owners – potential risks must be identified and monitored to ensure success.
- Set clear policies – Incorporating core business values into all levels of operations is a crucial hallmark of an effective ESG programme. Implementing sufficient policies improves governance procedures & controls and ensures that the business is operating in line with corporate requirements and company values. This approach encourages employees and stakeholders to buy into and comply with a company’s chosen ESG policies. Additionally, businesses should develop clear rules for how decisions are made at every level so that everyone knows what is expected of them in terms of maintaining the company’s commitment to sustainable practices.
Leveraging ESG Software to Deliver Your ESG Strategy
Delivering a successful ESG programme, requires, meticulous planning, the collation of data from across the organisation, clear policies & procedures, comprehensive risk management, and compliance with standards and regulations. With so much data & planning – and so many teams involved – many organisations are investing in ESG software to simplify the process and generate the reporting they need.
ESG software can support organisations to gather their all-important ESG data to demonstrate their progression against ESG initiatives in several ways:
- ESG Data Collection – Collect ESG data from across your organisation by rolling out online forms, questionnaires, and surveys or by integrating the platform with other systems & data sources via API integrations.
- Strategy Planning – Map out an ESG strategy with clear goals & objectives and define the tasks, projects, and actions that will help you to achieve them – and monitor progress.
- Risk Management – Monitor ESG related risks and implement controls and corrective actions.
- Compliance – Set up an obligations library to monitor compliance with regulations, policies, and standards.
- Incident Management – Log ESG related incidents and manage cases through to resolution.
- ESG process workflows – Set up online processes & logs for, emerging risks, opportunities, asset management, feedback & complaints, audits & inspections, conflicts of interest & disclosures, dangerous goods register, health & safety checks, and much more.
Businesses seem to be facing a growing list of challenges when it comes to ensuring their ESG data is accurate, consistent, and comparable. Leveraging ESG software provides a clear line of sight by linking each ESG goal or objective to key ESG metrics. Organisations can aggregate data from systems & people across the enterprise via APIs, forms, and questionnaires to collect ESG data in a consistent manner to track and monitor key ESG metrics, creating a single source of truth that enables ESG teams to understand their current position and track progress. ESG software offers a wealth of different reports that enable ESG teams to visualise the data and communicate progress to stakeholders.
How Can Automated ESG Reporting Help?
There are many ESG related reporting requirements emerging from regulators including the GRI, the CSRD, and the proposed climate disclosure rules that will require companies to report on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change disclosures.
As these mandates continue to emerge, organisations need to start thinking now about the processes of ESG data collection, data quality, data transformation, and their reporting strategy – so they can provide stakeholders with reliable ESG data that has been independently audited using approved procedures.
When using ESG software:
- Live dashboards can help ESG teams to visualise the progression of their ESG strategy – and the related projects and initiatives.
- Reports can be run at the touch of a button and some solutions offer interactive reports using Microsoft Power BI. This means ESG teams can drill into the detail, address problems, and identify efficiencies that will make positive operational changes to improve ESG credentials and save money, time, and resources.
- Instant reporting makes it easy to communicate progress on initiatives to the organisation without the need for constant status updates and meetings.
- Reporting can be structured to meet specific regulatory reporting requirements and the growing list of global ESG-related legislation and regulations such as data privacy, modern slavery, and climate reporting mandated under international independent standards organisations such as GRI and CSRD.
- Teams can run reports on ESG-related incidents to gain immediate insights & prevent future occurrences.
Tell an Authentic and Cohesive Story with Camms
An ESG platform like Camms can help organisations – both big and small – to work towards a greener, more efficient and ethically sound operating model by facilitating their ESG-related projects and tasks – helping to visualise progress, identify efficiencies, and make cost savings.
The Camms platform offers a range of different reporting and dashboard options to meet a wide variety of reporting requirements across all levels of the organisation including:
SSRS Reports & Dashboards – A variety of static SSRS reports & dashboards are available out-of-the-box to get you up and running quickly. Clients also have the option to create their own bespoke reports & dashboards in this format to meet any specific reporting requirements.
Power BI Reports – PowerBI reports generated from the Microsoft platform enable clients to click on different areas of the dashboard and drill down into specific details providing a more interactive style of reporting.
Camms.Engage Executive Reporting – This professional-looking branded reporting tool is ideal for displaying information from the system to an audience outside of the Camms platform. It’s often used for executive-level reports and external reporting.
ESG data comes in various formats from multiple departments within an organisation – collecting and collating it can seem like a formidable task.
Using the right technology to aggregate data at scale ensures transparency, audibility and makes ESG investor grade reporting a less daunting prospect. It frees organisations from the arduous task of collecting data and ensuring its accuracy, leaving teams to focus on tactics and initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, uncover efficiencies & implement ethical programmes to improve ESG metrics ensuring the numbers tell a positive story.
As the importance of ESG grows steadily, each organisation that aspires to create a sustainable future must implement an effective ESG strategy. ESG reporting will soon become necessary to remain compliant and competitive and will need to be treated with the same rigour as financial reporting.
Camms can help you tell a credible ESG story that meets your reporting goals. To discuss the possibilities reach out to us for a demo today!