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Dec 5, 2022
Academy of Givers

Why is ESG important and why should companies be approaching it? Find out what was discussed during the Academy's members meeting held on the 22nd November with Dr Roberta Lepre

The 22nd of November saw another Academy of Givers members’ meeting where the topic of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) was discussed, led by Dr Roberta Lepre from Weave Consulting. Below are the main outcomes and discussions that took place during the meeting.

Up until a few years ago, the concept of sustainability was something which was practically never discussed in a corporate setting and was rather discussed in the remit of non-governmental organisations and at times even government. Although, we’ve noticed that this has begun to change, with ESG becoming a popular topic for discussion amongst companies.

This change came about with realising there was an opportunity to change. Especially with climate change and the issues in relation to the environment, the Paris agreement, and the focus on green growth. Companies and people started to acknowledge that the way in which we are operating is unsustainable and in order to stop causing harm, need to change the way we are doing things.

The question arose as to whether development can be sustainable, which brought in the concept of sustainable development; development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Such development acknowledges the fact that intentionally or unintentionally, at times we are having a negative impact, by identifying this, we can address it, and improve the way we operate and do things.

The conversation moved to the role of business within all this. Can we have progress without the engagement and involvement of the business community? Simply put, no we can’t. All companies play a role, and without their involvement we are not going to have the progress at the rate which we want and need to achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

It is a common myth that sustainability or ESG is just for the big corporates, and not for the small ones. If we look at figures, we see that the vast majority of businesses across the European Union are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),especially in terms of the value added. Without the involvement of the SMEs, progress will be stalled. With this, no matter the size of the company, the three P’s must be kept in mind, these being people, planet, profit.

As mentioned, there has been a shift, with companies now focussing more on ESG and also on corporate social responsibility (CSR). A lot of capital is also being allocated towards companies that tend to drive ESG.

ESG can be seen as an evolution, the criteria we are using to assess the progress towards the achievement of the intended outcome. ESG has three central factors: Environmental, Social, and Governance. The first two tend to be a bit more well-known, with Environmental focusing on climate change, energy and fuel, pollution control, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and recycling, and Social focussing on diversity and equality, employee relations, human rights, training and education, community development, amongst others. Although, the third factor, Governance, tends to be the least popular amongst the three. This factor focuses on the company’s internal rules and practices, on transparency, resilience, risk management, ethics and accountability. Although you may be more in control of this when compared to the previous two factors, unfortunately this tends to be the least attractive but not the least important.

Studies have shown that people are generally not trusting institutions such as the government and the media, yet still trust businesses the most, primarily their employees. Due to this, people are expecting companies to step in and take on a societal leadership role to come up with solutions to global problems.

Many want to understand more about ESG, how they can do it and what are its benefits. A tip for this is the EASI process introduced by Weave Consulting:

  1. Educate
  2. Assess
  3. Strategize
  4. Implement

It is important to keep in mind that ESG is an ongoing process and cannot happen once; it is up to you to keep it ongoing. Apart from this, one must also acknowledge how ideally, ESG must occur top down but must include all stakeholders of your company. You need to walk the talk, integrate your ESG strategy in all processes of your company, and inform your employees of what you are doing as a company, with this in turn motivating your employees to engage more in your activities.  

 The Academy will continue to discuss the topic of ESG and how this can move towards impact and more tangible outcomes that are in line with a company's purpose. We shouldn’t be doing it to tick boxes or for investment purposes only but because we believe we have the responsibility to mitigate our negative impact, use our companies, resources, and strengths for good and to positively impact society and the environment. In the end our companies will strive if we contribute and operate in a more sustainable way.

The reality is that you are most likely never going to have a 100% success rate, but companies need to start from somewhere. In the end as Anita Roddick, Business as Usual (2000) said;

“There is no more powerful institution in society than business…the business of business should not be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good not private greed.” 

A hug thank you to Dr Roberta Lepre, from Weave Consulting for sharing all these points and discussing among the Academy members. In case you wish to learn more about the EASI process or about the services she offers contact her on: or +356 9983 5301