October 11, 2023

The role of ESG communications and marketing

What is the role of communications in ESG and how to create an ESG communications plan to engage all stakeholders.

The role of ESG communications and marketing

Perhaps putting the words ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), communications, and engagement smacks of greenwash, suggests the promotion of empty promises, and raises some eyebrows.

Rest assured. This blog post is absolutely not an instruction manual for writing press releases about the latest tree you’ve planted. Instead, we look at the critical role of ESG communications when engaging with your leadership teams and people internally about the positive steps your business is taking, or hoping to take. We’ll also look at ESG communications from an external perspective — for example, how can you support and align the varied needs of your suppliers, community and customers with your ESG strategy and action plan?

At the heart of an ESG strategy is changing the actions and behaviours of people. This is what will cause the greatest impact. And behaviour change will only come when people have faith and belief in what you do. That’s why we believe ESG communications is not a promotional tool. It’s about engaging all your stakeholders from the start of, and throughout, your journey for the sake of the values your business now holds.

ESG communications to engage with your leadership team

In many organisations we’ve worked with, ESG planning and actions are often handed to internal teams — which may, or may not, have a board representative — to tick the ESG box. However, this doesn’t mean principles, policies, and practical application will become embedded as part of their business strategy.

For your business to create an ESG strategy that delivers, you need the complete buy-in and engagement from your leadership team. Equally, you will need to prioritise your short-, medium- and long-term goals, all of which will need to have been written with alignment alongside larger, overall business goals.

Transform ESG starts here: with the engagement of your leadership team. We dive deep to understand what drives them personally and professionally, where they see opportunities (and risks), as well as where they’re motivated to take the lead on formulation, implementation, and reporting of ESG.

ESG communications to engage with your people

ESG is not something that can be driven solely from the top down. You also need to engage your whole organisation on your ESG journey — fortunately, this is often where you’ll find the most passion and innovative ideas about what your business could achieve, on a small and grand scale.

Capturing and harnessing these ideas will give your ESG strategy the impetus and momentum required. And, when your employees feel their work is contributing to a greater good, they’ll be more engaged and motivated with their day-to-day work, too — this 2020 study from Marsh McLennan showed top employers have significantly higher ESG scores than their industry peers.

ESG communications to engage with your suppliers

With the growth of climate-related regulations and legislation, large organisations are increasingly having to report on their Scope 1 & 2 emissions. Scope 3 emissions are the indirect emissions from a company’s value-chain — large organisations are looking at how to measure and report on these, too.

Whatever the size of your organisation, any business with larger companies will soon require the provision of your own ESG strategy and action plan.

Transform ESG, while working with a global publisher, engaged with suppliers at an early stage. During these discussions, we looked at how printers could facilitate collaboration to reduce emissions and costs of transport. Competitive companies worked together to reduce packing, freight and, ultimately, emissions — they all saw the value of collaboration.

By engaging your supply chain, not only can you help spread best practice and provide valuable guidance and advice, but there may also be beneficial actions you could implement yourself. It’s what we look for and call win-win-win scenarios.

ESG communications to engage with your community

Every business operates within communities. These might be local communities, or perhaps the industry you work in and any peer networks. Successful ESG strategies rest on collaboration and group learning. By engaging your community, you can share and learn best practice (not to mention the inevitable mistakes made).

At Transform ESG and Action Net Zero, we’ve partnered with the University of Bath to share regional expertise. We’ve set up the Green Employability Network to increase collaboration between large employers while offering access to young talent — to keep and develop skills in the South West region.

There are some great ideas out there. Our partner Action Net Zero is spearheading the adoption of community EV (electric vehicle) charging by working with organisations, schools, community sports grounds, and other civic centres to install community EV charging, ensuring everyone has access.

We’re here to help

Contact us at Transform ESG to find out more about how to embed ESG communications in your ESG strategy, in order to engage your leaders, people, suppliers, and community.