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As a society, we are beginning to focus on sustainability, even in the corporate world. Since the famous tomato soup in a gallery incident and climate action strikes and protests, companies are making a distinctive effort to lower their carbon footprint and improve their sustainability.
Charlie Harris image Charlie Harris

Health & Environment

5 Ways to Develop an ESG Strategy

As a society, we are beginning to focus on sustainability, even in the corporate world. Since the famous tomato soup in a gallery incident and climate action strikes and protests, companies are making a distinctive effort to lower their carbon footprint and improve their sustainability. Companies like McDonalds and Starbucks are rolling out paper straws and Innocent making their bottles more eco-friendly with recycled plastics, companies are beginning to understand how much sustainability plays into consumers’ buying decisions, which is especially the case with newer generations.

With all of this in mind, it might be time to join in the climate action movement by making your company more sustainable and reducing your carbon footprint. 

In this article, we’re going to talk you through how you can do exactly that, by developing a solid ESG Strategy. 

What is ESG?

ESG is all about the influence your company has on the environment and society. It is also about being transparent about the inner workings of your company, from audits to company leadership.

The acronym ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. 


This part of ESG focuses on the impact your business has on the environment. 

For example, your business’ products and their packaging and presentation should be sustainable - such as McDonalds’ paper straws. In addition, your supply chain and operations should ideally be as sustainable as possible, which can mean using renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. 


The social part of ESG is about how your products, services or operations impact wider society, as well as your workplace. 

This can include things like making sure you adhere to GDPR and keeping customers’ personal data secure, as well as giving your consumers benefits which promote good mental and physical health and wellbeing. 


This is the section of ESG which focuses on your company’s transparency and ethics in terms of the way it’s run.

The ethics section of ESG can include being transparent with your stakeholders about your business’ financial progress, as well as your company’s operations. Governance is also about doing business as ethically as possible. 

What is an ESG Strategy?

Essentially, an ESG strategy is a plan which details how your company is going to adhere to and prioritise the above guidelines. 

As we’ll explain in further detail, when creating your ESG strategy, you should consider the changes you can implement, your goals in doing so, and what they’ll look like in the form of KPIs. 

The Benefits of Having an ESG Strategy

There are several benefits of creating an ESG strategy. 

Firstly - the most important benefit - having an ESG strategy can help you plan out how to have a less negative impact on the world. Being more sustainable can help you contribute to a wider movement which many companies are also joining in with - so it may be time to join in. 

Secondly, by having a clear and simple ESG strategy, you can give your business a significant edge over your competitors. This is because your ESG strategy shows consumers that you’re committed to being as sustainable and environmentally-friendly as possible. 

Finally, stakeholders and investors are beginning to prioritise companies with an ESG strategy in place, so creating one can help you find people to join and invest in your business. 

So, now that we’ve established the benefits of having an ESG strategy, we’re going to explore how to develop one.

1 - Understanding your Level of Commitment

When creating an ESG strategy, it’s important to plan out which areas of your business you’ll focus on and prioritise. Doing this means you’ll be able to maintain a realistic idea of the changes and improvements you’re able to implement at the different levels and departments in your company. 

For example, this could mean focussing on keeping your supply chain as sustainable, socially responsible and transparent as possible. When deciding which part of your business and processes you decide to prioritise for your ESG strategy, it’s a good idea to make sure that the changes you want to make are achievable and allow you to still prioritise profit and perform as a business. 

Once you’ve decided which areas and departments to focus on, you’ll be able to create a plan of what you want these improvements to look like. 

2 - Establishing your Goals

When planning your improvements, it’s a good idea to think in terms of tangible goals. This could mean switching to recyclable packaging for your product, or reducing your emissions during the supply chain process by a certain amount or percentage. 

Setting up achievable goals means you have ways of measuring your ESG strategy’s success. 

It’s also important to lay out how exactly you plan to achieve these goals in your ESG strategy, as this can help break down your goals and make them feel within reach. 

An example of a good ESG goal could be using recycled plastic when packaging your product. It’s also a good idea to add numbers to these goals, which is where KPIs come in.

3 - Setting Up KPIs

It can really help to add numbers to your ESG strategy, helping you measure its success. 

For example, if you aim to reduce emissions by a certain percentage in a specific number of years, it’ll be easy to measure your success - as the numbers will speak for themselves once you’ve achieved them. 

In addition, having KPIs can give employees a very specific goal to work towards, helping boost productivity and motivation.

This is another important point to remember - it’s essential for your team to understand and agree with your ESG strategy. 

4 - Getting Everyone On-Board

It’s essential that your employees know about the ESG strategy you’re putting in place for your business, because it can have an impact on the way they work and the goals they’re aiming for. 

An increasing number of people want to work for a company which is ethical and sustainable - this is another reason to create an ESG strategy, as it can be another reason for people to join your company and - once they’ve been recruited - to stay. As you’d imagine, having an ESG strategy attracts both consumers and potential employees, which is another benefit to creating and implementing this type of strategy for your business. 

5 - Setting up your ESG Strategy

Once you’ve established your goals and KPIs and how you plan to achieve them, it’s time to formalise your thoughts and put them together in an ESG strategy document. 

There are several ways you could do this, from using suggested templates to planning each section of the document and separating it out by department, or by each letter of the ESG acronym.

Whichever way you decide to create your ESG strategy document, the most important thing is that it makes sense to you and is simple and easy to follow for employees, consumers and stakeholders alike. 

This way, everyone who’s involved in your business - as well as potential customers and investors or other stakeholders - are able to understand your commitment to sustainability, social impact and transparency. 

Making your ESG Strategy Public

The final thing to consider when you’re creating an ESG strategy for your business is making it public. 

Once you’ve put in all the hard work, it’s essential to make sure people know about your commitment to sustainability and the other branches of your strategy. 

When this process is complete, you’ll be able to prove to consumers, employees and investors alike that you have a strategy and plan in place to help you become an ethical, transparent and sustainable company, which has a wide range of benefits, both to your company and to the world around it. 

As sustainability continues to become a focal point of many companies, it might be time to join in and make your business as future-proof, sustainable and ethical as possible.

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