The time is now for organizations to embed robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. Although benefits to the environment are perhaps clearer for organizations to see, that alone isn’t enough. ESG policies shouldn’t neglect key social and governance issues. The problem is, many corporations and institutions don’t know tactically what to do, given the massive change and complexity involved. That’s where Buro Happold can help.
ESG is about a company’s business model: How its products and services contribute to sustainable growth and how a company manages risk and its own operations to minimize negative impact. Broadly, ESG can be broken down and defined as follows:
- Environmental: Assesses if a company is reducing its use of natural resources and maximizing the health of ecosystems.
- Social: Examines the strengths and weaknesses of how a company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers and the communities where it operates.
- Governance: Deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal control, transparency and shareholder rights.
Traditionally, ESG has revolved around larger companies reporting sustainability progress and sharing their positive stories with the world. Now, however, there’s much more emphasis on taking hard action and measuring the good that is supposedly occurring. Stakeholders are rightly demanding the honest story, warts and all. Quality ESG work is less about reporting and accounting and more about implementing real, challenging actions to help companies achieve their goals.
It’s easy to set “zero carbon” targets, but realizing those targets is so challenging. Fortunately, Buro Happold has an engineering DNA and ethos with our experience and approach being focused on implementable, measurable solutions. Achieving ESG goals can include many things.
- Technical and engineering-based solutions that help companies make their facilities, operations and supply chain more sustainable: This might include shifting to an all-electric infrastructure, reducing waste, renewable energy purchasing and much more.
- Change-management consulting: Buro Happold can assess whether a company’s staff are on board with improving ESG, and analyze if the right staff and skill-set in place. Then, enabling learning through training and awareness programs.
- Governance consulting: Putting in place a clear, robust internal ESG accountability, reporting and budgeting structure is essential to succeeding.
- Serving as on-call owners’ representatives and advisors to triage issues real-time, as they arise: This can include project management, writing corporate policy, RFPs and designing internal sustainability programs.
The pressing need to mitigate climate impact is clear. At the COP26 climate summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the world was “at one minute to midnight” in its fight against climate change. This urgency, combined with a growing wave of more socially and environmentally conscious leaders, employees and investors, means ESG action has never been more important.
Then there are the wider business benefits of robust ESG policies that should not be underestimated. Those include reduced supply chain vulnerability, stronger talent acquisition, happier employees, access to sustainability-oriented funding and customers, healthier facilities, operational cost savings, branding, reduced regulatory compliance risk and investor relations.
At Buro Happold, we pride ourselves on marrying the engineering, strategic and cultural aspects of ESG. We help people to adapt and get behind changes—and we’re able to help companies assess and understand where they are, put a strategy in place and chart a clear roadmap to the future.
ESG is not merely a framework that institutions and investors have to report on. It’s also firmly on the radar of employees, regulators and everyone else within an organization. Robust ESG policies and achievements are now a “must-have” to work toward positive climate action and build a more sustainable, resilient future. But only with the right mix of technical and change management solutions can organizations get there.