With so many different ESG standards, ratings and guidelines to contend with, many organisations run the risk of drowning in a confusing mix of acronyms and frameworks before they have even started.
ESG is a wide and evolving space and although frameworks are designed to help organisations on their sustainability journey, it can be overwhelming when starting out. Even for those further down the line, there are a host of operational challenges that can derail even the best-laid plans.
Knowing where to start, where to focus, how to consistently collect accurate data (and interpret it) is crucial to any successful strategy. Below we explore three of the main operational challenges organisations face when it comes to ESG data and some ways to overcome them.
1. Understanding and knowledge
Globally, knowledge and understanding of ESG is steadily improving. The business benefits of upskilling staff and investing time and resources toward ESG strategies is driving more and more businesses to do just that – but undoubtedly a wide knowledge gap still exists in many organisations. And it’s not simply a case of throwing money at an ESG strategy and hoping something sticks; a proper strategy that will benefit an organisation’s long-term goals must be properly thought out, planned, and backed by expertise, understanding and knowledge of ESG (and how to get the most from it).
How to get started:
The starting point on any ESG journey should be identifying exactly which ESG factors are most important to your business via a thorough materiality assessment. A materiality assessment is the process of identifying, refining, and then assessing a broad range of ESG factors that matter most to your business and to your stakeholders. This will give you the understanding and knowledge of where to focus your efforts and highlight ESG weaknesses within your business.
At Turnkey, our expert advisory team can assist you with your materiality assessment and with staff training along the way so that you are always in safe hands. Once you have identified the areas to focus on, you then need an ESG framework in place to work towards – these are varied and are made up of a number of ESG standards. What is best suited to your organisation will depend on your specific sector, location and company size. ESG frameworks and the standards within them are particularly important in goal setting, tracking data, spotting future trends and improving business efficiency. They will help you understand your progress against your business goals and wider industry trends. We can help you understand which frameworks and standards are relevant for your business, knowledge that is key to your long-term strategy.
2. Data quality and availability
Once you have carried out your materiality assessment and know which framework and standards you are working within, you need to ensure the data you are recording is accurate. For some large businesses with multiple sites across multiple locations, making sure that everything that falls within organisational boundaries is being reported on can be a challenge.
If data is being missed then the figures will be skewed and your output won’t be reflective of where your business is truly at. Many organisations can also face an issue with data quality – perhaps certain ESG factors simply aren’t being reported on in every location, or they’re being recorded on outdated IT systems. There could even be a lack of an effective database, handwritten or poorly recorded notes stored in Excel. Data quality and availability is key to an effective ESG strategy – effectively what you get out is only as good as what you are putting in.
How can I ensure data quality and availability?
One of the best ways to ensure data quality is to use a robust reporting platform, like Sustainion, as a central database. How this is set up will be informed by your long-term goals, your materiality assessment (which we can assist with) and the frameworks and standards you are working within. Once you know what data needs reporting on and have a system in place, you can assign individual responsibility for the data being recorded at each location. Login verification and KPI’s will ensure data is logged on time and can be consistently tracked. Sustainion has no limits on the number of users or locations, meaning it is a truly scalable global solution that’s just as effective for companies with one location as it is for those with multiple buildings and locations. Tracking and reporting in real-time in a centralised system helps simplify data consolidation and adds transparency and accountability around the data that is being recorded, resulting in less errors and easier validation.
3. Knowing the solution you need
It can be a headache to know which solution will best suit your needs and requirements. Knowing which data to focus on, what standards and frameworks to report to and how to interpret that data will give you the building blocks to make the most out of ESG. And ESG has a host of benefits – from improving operational efficiency and bottom line profitability to company valuation and risk reduction (and so much more).
What’s the next step?
Our expert advisory team is here to help. We can work with you on an ESG baseline assessment to identify any gaps, talk you through how to start your materiality assessment and guide you through the relevant frameworks and standards to ensure you have the best solution for capturing the data your business needs.
Our process is tailored to each individual company’s needs. No matter the size, sector or location of your organisation; we can help. What’s more, Sustainion is designed to be sector agnostic, so regardless of the industry you’re in we can configure the platform to meet your specific needs and requirements.