AB Thinks  →  5th July 2023

“This is big”: Internal comms professionals should be driving the ESG agenda

How would you measure the productivity of your team based on its diversity?

It’s a mammoth question and one IC practitioners need to pay attention to as the ESG agenda advances, says Gihan Hyde, the latest guest on the Internal Comms Podcast.

ESG, after all, is not simply a tick-box exercise of embedding ‘sustainable practice.’ It’s far more complex, touching the very far reaches of an organisation and its partners, supply chain, colleagues and customers.

And when it comes to measuring its success and driving it forward, internal comms teams will be integral if we can establish what role we should play.

So, what is ESG?
Environmental, Social, Governance.

At its most basic, the ‘E’ is all the initiatives that a company undertakes to protect people and planet. The ‘S’ is all about the relationships an organisation has with the humans they interact with, it’s social impact initiatives. The ‘G’ is the way a company is run, taking into account everything from  the way the company reports on its environmental impact to the degree of power held by board members and how representative that board room is of the organisational and customer communities it serves.

How does internal comms come into play with ESG?
“In my opinion, internal comms is all about ensuring that an organisation operates in a transparent, honest and ethical [way],” says Gihan. “So, if we do not understand what ESG is, and if we do not understand how to communicate it, we lose our power.”

Established by the top, led by the bottom
Embedding ESG means changing the ways things fundamentally operate and internal comms teams are responsible for galvanising the frontline behind any change in behaviour.

“ESG is a mindset change,” says Gihan. “Sustainability in general is a mindset change – it’s a behavioural change. And it’s not a change that will happen overnight.

“This is not a digital transformation. This is not a workflow or a ‘ways of working’ transformation. This is a ‘ways of living’ transformation. This is big.”

This could be a critical juncture for internal comms, a means of establishing its seat at the top table. ESG legislation is becoming more stringent; organisations around the world have no option to take notice.

And as Gihan says, it must be led by the top, and enacted by the bottom of an organisation. Who is well placed to communicate with both of these key groups? Internal communications.

The message? Be bold. Have conversations with stakeholders about how ESG strategies are being crafted, monitored, actioned, measured. Keep your ear to the ground, and be ready to play your part.

Listen to the full conversation here.