The situation: While the company had an Environmental, Health & Safety group, it didn’t have an ESG plan, Committee or dedicated role to oversee efforts more broadly. Internal constituents were addressing investor, customer and supplier requests on an ad-hoc basis with no coordination, creating the potential for inaccurate representations to the various audiences. This, in turn, could have affected the company’s credibility and created lost business opportunities.

The challenge: How should various audiences be approached with respect to communicating ESG initiatives? What affects will inaccurate factual representations have on a company’s business and/or reputation? What legal disclosure risks are in play with an ad-hoc approach to survey responses? What appetite and resources did the company have for advancement of ESG initiatives on a broader scale?

The result: Our approach was highly collaborative. Given the sparcity of company resources, we leveraged a grass-roots, internal appetite for ESG advancement without adding budget or human capital. We identified and engaged a cross-functional, senior-level team to create the company’s first-ever ESG Committee. We worked with in-house legal and audit teams to develop a controls framework for monitoring, recording and auditing information to ensure accuracy. We also created a reporting and tracking mechanism for such information. Periodic updates on survey work, progress and initiatives were provided to Board and C-level executives. New ESG-focused funds initiated ownership positions as a result of the company’s advancement of ESG initiatives, its increasing facility when speaking about ESG matters, and its membership on at least one well-known ESG-related stock index.