How to make sense of ESG goals?

8th of April 2024
How to make sense of ESG goals?

How can the cleaning sector unravel the ESG goals set by the UN? Lynn Webster takes a closer look.

The New Year started with impacts from COP26 for many organisations. Topics covering youth and public empowerment; nature and land use; transport the built environment; energy, science and innovation.

Unravelling of ESG goals for any cleaning company has its challenges and this is compounded for the smaller and medium size companies which do not have the resources to employ specialists.
When clients require a series of responses covering Scope reduction targets both for client sites and in overall business terms; improving ‘sustainability’, sustainability-focused interventions; business life cycle assessments along with using governmental GHG conversion tables for carbon emissions.

As a very generalist overview it could be said that sustainability is the broad holistic outlook encompassing many environmental (impact on the planet, our world’s natural resources), social (human rights; equity; impact on our people, staff, clients and the community) and economic (our business finance; prosperity, clear decision making & responsibility) areas. Then in turn ESG becomes the structured framework to assess all of those functions - the collective business impact on the environment and on society with robust and transparent governance.

In the UK recently the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA) held a workshop as part of its key objective to identify and raise ESG activities.

This included feedback on research on members’ websites, promotion and illustration of their ESG message covering management information; reporting policy statements; accreditations; Scope 1,2 & 3 carbon reduction; social commitments; fair pay; charitable activities training and wellbeing.

Some valuable insights were provided looking at leadership, culture and what clients are now expecting. Some website and company profile literature could be described as anything from ‘“acronym soup” to a plethora of ‘greenwashing’ statements so there was certainly learning to share and debate to be had.

Recommendations include

• Make statements that are relevant and make sense
• Describe real actions with concrete evidence
• Core principles with fundamental messages of what you do whilst being comfortable with what you know
• Consider ESG from all angles inclusively
• Don’t make pledges without the ‘how to’ being explained
• Question if social aspects are fully communicated to all stakeholders with clear evidence - infographics could tell the story much better than text.

Then overall define what peg to hang your business on with understanding of what is relevant and matters to you. Many companies are doing some really great activities but not reporting them.

Taking this feedback alongside some general outcomes from COP26 this can focus on:

• The growing trends for more purposeful business practices
• Increased reporting of positive initiatives with detail and supported data;
• Review of ill-defined words and irrelevant statements
• Take a new look at the value of employment where the next generation will want wellbeing, personal development, diversity, civic responsibility as prized values.

 

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