Developments in ESG continue to have a significant impact on corporate behaviour and policies as companies strive to improve their approach. But change is not always brought about from the top and can be influenced at many levels within an organisation and across its stakeholder groups. So what can different areas and teams within a business do to take on their own ESG mission?
As part of our ESG summer school series, our specialist team is sharing a range of ideas to help you take stock of your organisation’s ESG activities and policies. Covering a range of topics, each blog sets out key points to consider that will help to improve your ESG credentials. Here, we look at areas where you might set ESG objectives as a team. While you might not (yet) have the ability to influence things at a corporate policy level, there’s nothing stopping you setting yourself and your team some targeted ESG objectives. Our top ten suggestions are:
- Away day challenge – volunteer your time for an organisation which promotes environmental or social change. Set yourself a minimum number of volunteering hours, or organise an away day for your colleagues to put those collective hours behind a larger project – an approach many businesses will encourage. And if you can use your professional skills as part of the process, then all the better.
- Blind recruitment – when you’re recruiting for a vacancy in your team, insist that your recruiter (internal or external agent) sends you a diverse range of candidates (consider adopting Mansfield Rule principles in your team). Maybe even ask the recruiters to anonymise the CVs.
- Divide and conquer – professional development is easy to overlook when you’re busy and ESG covers a lot of ground – why not allocate your team members ESG topics for them to track over the next year, encouraging them to share briefings and articles on that topic once a month.
- ESG training rota – put together a training programme on the ESG topics that are most likely to come across your desk and divide these between team members, so that one person leads a session on each. Get the dates in the diary now and volunteer for the first one to set the pace!
- Pass the baton – it’s tricky for managers to introduce new governance principles, but why not let your more junior colleagues set the agenda and run team meetings – flatten your hierarchy! Think about instituting reverse mentoring for your more senior colleagues.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle – your organisation likely has various goals and targets for waste. Why not encourage your team to do their bit by encouraging default black and white printing; double-sided; two sheets per page; with no printing on Fridays. Save a ream of paper per month and you’ll save one and a half trees!
- Inspire the next generation – you and your team are brilliant and could inspire people wanting to join your profession. Sign up to be mentors, or even better organise a paid internship and bring someone into your team for a week to gain experience – show them what you did to work in your role today and demystify your career path.
- Who’s counting? – how about setting a carbon budget for your team’s annual travel? You will probably need some technical support to work that out, so while you’re investigating that, consider setting some rules for team travel – walk journeys that are under a mile, take electric cabs only, opt for trains over planes etc.
- Veg in not veg out – instead of no-meat Monday, go fully vegetarian or plant-based for your catered events – and go for local wines and beers if you’re celebrating a success (or the end of a stressful week!).
- Write it all up – be an advocate for positive change and after three or six months of implementing a programme of work, write a short post for your organisation’s intranet, or internal magazine. Talk about what worked and what failed, and encourage your colleagues in other groups to follow suit.
For more ideas from this series, check out our other blogs on assessing whether your ESG and business policies are fit-for-purpose and the benefits of setting up internal networks.
Many factors have converged to propel ESG issues to the forefront of the corporate and investment world. Our specialist team is fully engaged in developments in this area and is working with a wide range of businesses and other organisations to support their approach to ESG. Comprising of lawyers working across practice areas in our international offices, the team provides a wide spectrum of advice – helping clients to understand their responsibilities and identify where risks and opportunities may lie. Find out more about the team and where it can support on our ESG page.
About the author(s)
Ben Stansfield is one the UK's leading lawyers practising planning and environmental law. Ben is based in Gowling WLG's London office and brings with him a wealth of experience advising clients on the consenting and regulation of their projects and their compliance with environmental regulations and reporting standards.
Samantha is a partner in the corporate group, sitting in the firm's Public Companies and Capital Markets Team, specialising in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and equity capital markets.
Samantha has extensive experience of acting for companies, or their advisers, on IPOs and secondary transactions both on AIM and on the main market of the London Stock Exchange plc, and on transactions involving the Toronto and Australian exchanges. She regularly advises on a range of domestic and cross border M&A transactions, including joint-ventures, private M&A and public takeovers. Samantha has experience in a range of sectors including retail and consumer, gaming, life sciences, healthcare, cannabis and mining.