Five key steps to create and execute a sustainability and ESG strategy
1. Define stakeholder expectations
To deliver long-term value to shareholders, companies need to understand and respond to the needs of all the communities they serve. By aligning the board, management and employees, partners and suppliers in a common goal and ambition, companies can embed sustainability as a way to generate significant environmental, social and financial value for all. Shared goals are critical to a sustainability strategy, but so is shared accountability.
2. Establish commitments and ambitions
Ambitious, measurable goals and aspirations need to reflect a broader purpose and vision that the whole company can get behind. A strong unifying culture that is inclusive and inspiring can catalyze change across an organization, creating its own dynamic. By describing broad ambitions for addressing impacts on climate and the environment, improving DEI in all company relationships and strengthening governance measures to drive accountability, companies can unite their stakeholders in a common purpose. Setting tangible commitments, and reporting on them, helps organizations keep that purpose authentic and real.
3. Infuse ESG into organizational strategy
To bring sustainability and ESG programs to life, a “whole of business” perspective is needed. Every function within the business has a part to play, from upstream and downstream operations across an organization’s value chain to product and service development, talent management, customer experience and supplier relations. Embedding sustainability into a whole-organization integrated strategy should inform the decisions, investments and actions the company undertakes. Leaders need to demonstrate their commitment through accountable and transparent processes, policies, controls and reporting mechanisms. Every function has a role: strategy and operations, talent, communications, supply chain management, tax and finance, sales and marketing.