Anti-ESG and ESG backlash are a rising concern and many are looking for guidance on navigating these political headwinds. A recent article from The Conference Board discusses challenges presented by ESG backlash and provides practical guidance on how your company can navigate these politically charged waters.
One salient point the authors make is that companies can use ESG backlash as an opportunity to ground ESG in business imperatives. The authors state:
“The most effective response to backlash is to ensure the company’s ESG and sustainability goals align with core business strategy, are supported by empirical evidence, and serve the long-term welfare of the company itself as well as those of stakeholders and society. Sixty-three percent of companies that reported experiencing backlash in our survey are increasing focus on how ESG connects with shareholder value. In addition to tying ESG initiatives to business strategy, companies should explain how they are a natural extension of a historic commitment to corporate responsibility.”
This is a great way to combat the ongoing erosion of the meaning of ESG which we wrote about recently here. By defining ESG and clarifying how ESG moves your company towards concrete goals, you can frame the ESG debate in terms of real impacts. Approaching ESG in this way can help you stay above politics and focus on what matters – Lawrence previously provided an in-depth discussion of ways to think about doing this.