Written by Ged Cosgrove, group managing partner
We join our great nation in mourning the sad loss of Her Majesty The Queen. Over her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II has been such a beloved and ubiquitous figure, having navigated all that is ‘great’ about Great Britain and her legacy will provide inspiration to so many around globe. May she rest in peace.
As we also celebrate our new King, let’s too reflect on the Former Prince of Wales’ immense passion for ESG and tackling climate change. Whilst the King has signalled that he could now step back from much of the campaigning and charitable work that he’d become so well known for, it is crucial that we continue to prioritise such matters.
Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a marked rise in the importance of a business’s ESG strategy, or Environmental, Social and Governance as it’s more formally known. Being able to supply details and evidence of the policies, practices and values that ensure you trade responsibly is becoming increasingly critical for winning business and attracting and retaining talent.
ESG has been around for a long time, and this particular acronym has its roots in the language of finance and investment. You might know it better by another name, perhaps Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development or Social Value. These descriptors and their history can give the impression that ESG only applies to big business, but that’s not the case.
In a candidate’s job market, with a pandemic fresh in our minds and a cost of living crisis underway, proving that you care, are a responsible business and operate ethically is just as important for SMEs as it is for global organisations. Investors, for example, are now analysing the ESG credentials of smaller businesses, not just large players, utilising these financial factors to identify risk and growth opportunities during their due diligence. The use of ESG criteria in tenders is also on the rise as more organisations take social value seriously and vet perspective suppliers during the procurement process.
Most businesses already trade with an ethical mindset. Many find that employees lead the way when it comes to charitable initiatives, whilst others prioritise staff development as part of their people strategy. If you interrogate your own practices, you are likely to find that you have the basics of an ESG framework already in place and could unearth some impressive targets and data.
It’s time to formalise your ESG strategy and put any success, initiatives or rolling figures in writing. The United Nations asserted in 2004 that ‘Who Cares Wins’, and while it’s been a driving consideration for global brands ever since, it’s never been truer for SMEs. For a little inspiration, take a look at our own policy here.
Meanwhile, and not unrelated, the cost of living crisis is hitting hard for many clients. Clients continue to inform us of astronomical energy price rises, with one organisation’s standing daily energy charge rising six-fold, which comes at a time when staff salaries and other costs are also rising.
Be warned: these price hikes are coming. The question is, are you prepared? Could you absorb such a profit loss? Most likely, you need to take stock and scrutinise your finances for areas that could be streamlined or paired back.
Don’t delay and speak to your Champion advisor for support.