Is mandatory sustainability a distant concept?
‘Yes and no’, Tristan Dhondt replies. ‘Reporting is mandatory, covering all companies. They need to look at what all the different aspects mean for them, in euros as well. Many are still quite unclear. But that’s not really the point for me. More important is the question of business strategy. What culture, what mindset does the organization have?’
‘Most companies are aware of the timeline, they know what to expect’, agrees Sophie Chirez. ‘Many will have to be ready by 2025, others a bit later, but what exactly the reporting entails is not fully clear to many of them. Some underestimate what they will be up against. What Europe is demanding is completely different. It’s a big step, that’s for sure. The focus of the ESG – environmental, social, governance – criteria is on climate change, CO2 emissions, pollution, etc. The social aspect is also touched upon. But the policy-related side is often sidelined.’
We’ve seen many scandals in the past, with ‘dieselgate’ one of the most famous. Many companies do not realize that they also need to address their governance upfront. In many cases they only take action after something goes wrong. Accountability should fall to the board. That’s why we are working hard to raise awareness there. While it is often already high on the agenda of management, the CEO and the chief financial officer, board support is also needed. Board accountability could be a lot better.’ According to Chirez, the decision makers often lack knowledge of ESG.