The increased politicization of ESG has left many wondering how to adapt to an increasingly hostile environment for ESG programs. A recent article from wtw (formerly WillisTowersWatson) lays out practical tips and guidance on how to keep your ESG program above politics and focused on business imperatives. The article lays out seven tips for avoiding polarization and keeping focus amidst turbulent cultural cross currents. In sum:
Effective leaders focus ESG actions on both short- and long-term value creation, viability, stability, financial performance and growth. Pushback on ESG is a sign that it is evolving, with stakeholders taking steps to make climate, social responsibility, employee wellbeing and corporate governance efforts more consistently tangible, meaningful and measurable – regardless of what they are called.
The article couches the current ESG backlash as growing pains. To grow through this process and make ESG a credible staple of modern business, we must acknowledge ESG’s shortcomings and focus on the outcomes. Ideological arguments may drive our personal motivations for working in ESG, but those are less useful when communicating the value of ESG to the rest of your company.
Keeping the focus on the compliance and strategy elements of ESG helps better communicate the value of your program to management and others within your company. Whether the ESG moniker sticks around or not, ESG issues relate to business fundamentals and those business imperatives aren’t going anywhere.