Other Family Business Philanthropy

Who Cares, Wins

Steps for any budget – Why purpose principles, corporate social and climate responsibility, has become more important than ever

Corporate social responsibility and ESG have been on everyone’s minds recently, as 2020 presented employers with new challenges towards supporting their communities, supply lines, staff and principles of a business.

As the world watched, a patchwork emerged of industry disparities. Some businesses clearly prioritised the safety of their staff, went out of their way to keep people employed, and went above and beyond to adapt to the situation. In this category are large companies like Tesco, who gave 12 weeks paid leave to their vulnerable staff, and Timpson, who paid employees 100% of their wages throughout furlough.

Conversely, we also saw which businesses that did not show a duty of care towards the wellbeing of their staff. Wetherspoons, Sports Direct and Dexter’s Estate Agent are just a few that used questionable tactics throughout COVID-19, including significant pay cuts and forcing staff into work throughout lockdown.

With hundreds of thousands of social media posts from appalled customers vowing to boycott these companies in a post COVID world, the next year will be a significant one in the world of ESG. We will see how businesses suffer for not prioritising ethics.

Against this backdrop, companies from every industry are beginning to look more closely at ESG, and many are making significant steps. Apple recently committed $4.7 billion to projects that seek to create renewable energy. Asda is trialling a ‘sustainability store’ which will stock loose and unpackaged food for the same price as packaged goods. And Sky launched a diversity placement scheme and has invested £2 million in cutting carbon emissions.

As you can see, there is a huge amount of valuable progress being made by large corporations. But what about businesses who don’t have millions of pounds to invest in ESG? Often, we become so focussed on these giant, expensive initiatives that we overlook opportunities to contribute on a small budget. But committing to purpose-led business starts with small steps and is within the reach of anyone.

To help inspire you, here are just a few ways you can contribute positively to ESG, whatever your budget:

  • Add a section to your website that explains any company views or objectives with regard to purpose principles, social impact, environmental goals and governance. Increasingly, especially when it comes to next gen or millennial customers, people do check to see if the places they buy from demonstrate commitment to ethics. If you don’t have anything on your website at all about it, it suggests that it may not something that has crossed your mind, or is unimportant to you.
  • Discourage staff from sending short or unnecessary emails. Most people don’t know that every email they send has a carbon footprint and uses energy, so short emails just saying ‘thank you’ are actually needlessly damaging to the environment. It is estimated that if everyone in the UK sent just one less email per day, we would save over 16,000 tonnes of carbon per year.
  • Stop serving red meat and dairy at your events. These have the highest carbon footprint of any food, and when you are serving them in bulk that is not particularly sustainable. Instead consider serving poultry or vegetables and, if possible, donate leftover food after events.
  • Partner with sustainable suppliers. Start buying office supplies that are made of recycled or biodegradable materials. There are plenty of suppliers that provide everything you could need, for a low price and make you instantly more carbon neutral. Plus, if you have biodegradable business cards then that demonstrates upon meeting anyone new that your company cares about sustainability.

To find out more about improving your company’s ESG, please contact our Ethical and Social Impact Business team which eases the way for our advisory services partners to improve their impact on climate and communities. Please email Ally at ally.goldberg@beacongainer.com to arrange a time to speak.

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